Known for being part of This Mortal Coil and a producer for such artists as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Cocteau Twins, John Fryer has now launched his own musical project, DarkDriveClinic. For Fryer, the collaboration with vocalist Rebecca Coseboom (Halou/Stripmall Architecture) represents the the fruition of musical ideas going back many, many years. Their debut album “Noise In My Head” is out on Metropolis Records, and the group has been doing live shows in support of it. In an email interview, Fryer explained a bit about the project.
Could you describe the overall time frame of the project?
John Fryer: I guess the time frame is around 28 years in total. I started writing when I was working on the “This Mortal Coil” records. It started out of frustration as I wanted to play more on the “TMC” tracks, but that didn’t happen so after being in the studio all day I would go home and mess around making songs of my own and a couple of them have survived the test of time and made it to the album.
Was it always obvious to you that you wanted to collaborate with a particular vocalist on this material, as opposed to having different singers on different tracks?
John Fryer: Yeah, I always just wanted one singer, just one focal point, as I’ve seen over the years when you have a variety of singers it gets very messy when trying to do anything live. I’ve been to see bands play live who have used different singers and either they have playback with no one on stage singing or one of the other singers has to sing the songs and they are not always happy to be singing another singer’s vocals parts. So it’s much easier to have one singer. Plus I wanted the album to be taken seriously and not just a producer’s novelty record and getting all his mates to sing on it.
In terms of balancing it with other projects, how big of a focus do you see DarkDriveClinic being? Are you planning on doing more touring? Have you thought about when you might do another album?
John Fryer: Right now we are just proving to people we can do it live and can kick ass. So far the shows have gone really well and we have had a great response from the people who run the clubs and the audiences, so we are just waiting now for the phone to start ringing with people begging us to come and play at their clubs. I have already started writing the next album; I have got about 6 or 7 songs ready for Rebecca to put vocals on. I hope we can get it out early next year.
What effect do you think the initial long-distance collaboration had on the overall creative process? Do you think things might have turned out differently had you been working in the same location from the start?
John Fryer: I like the fact we are not in the same room; it’s the same with the recording of the guitars. It gives them more freedom to do and try different things out that maybe they wouldn’t have done if I had been in the same room with them. It takes the pressure off, they can do things over and over again till they are happy with the ideas and then send the parts to me. It can also be a nice surprise when I hear their ideas, it can be inspiring and I will change the arrangement to fit them in…
Are there any particular ways that you feel the project evolved from when you first started collaborating to the resulting album?
John Fryer: The project has never stopped evolving, it has been on a big learning and writing curve right from the offset. I think if I hadn’t said to myself “enough is enough, let’s just get the album finished and put it out” I would still be working on it.
What made you choose the name DarkDriveClinic?
John Fryer: Well, the name is kinda inspired by David Lynch, after watching several movies of his back to back my brain was spinning around in my cranium and out popped “DarkDriveClinic” it’s kind of a homage to him..
How does producing your own music compare to working with the music of other artists? When it’s your own music, do you find the line blurring between composition and production? Do you feel the need to impose limitations on yourself to avoid continually tweaking things?
John Fryer: When working on my own music, it’s totally about realizing my own dreams and when I’m working with bands it’s about realizing their dreams. When working on my music I only have myself to please. I will sit and write till I’m happy with it, but then listen to it after a couple of days as a producer and make changes if I think it needs it, but I do have to be strict with myself as I will keep changing things forever….
4AD has been a good example of a label itself having fans, who would check out new artists specifically because they were on the label. Do you think this concept of a label having dedicated fans can exist in the musical climate of today?
John Fryer: This is a very hard question to answer, as I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the music industry in the future, but people are still buying into the 4AD brand, apart from one guy on facebook the other day. Who has now had enough of the label after 30 years of buying records on 4AD. So it’s not been a bad run for them has it….