WHAT DO you get when you cross Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, Grandpa Munster, Skinny Puppy, The Cramps, Batman, Tarzan, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and a beatbox? Well, it’s Alien Sex Fiend, of course! You silly thing, you! What do you mean you don’t know who Alien Sex Fiend is!?!?!? You call yourself being up on the music front? Give me a break…
Yes, kiddies, let me take you back to the sweet time of pre-Guns’N’Roses. Remember that? Yeah, I know, it’s ancient history to you, but just sit still for a damn minute. This is serious musical history. Okay, so you know who the Sex Pistols are, right? (Right!) Well, mutate that stuff as far as you can, add a good dose of humor and a whole lot of industrial noise via synthesizers, and you are well on your way to a rudimentary understanding of who Alien Sex Fiend are.
Now pay attention. There used to be this really cool club in England called the Batcave where all the little ghouls and vampires of the post-punk gothic scene could hang out and be seen (before they all took themselves so very seriously, that is). Nik Fiend and Mrs. Fiend made a lot of the festivities truly entertaining when they headlined at the Batcave. Their brain-contorting recording of ‘R.I.P.’, on the Batcave Young Limbs Numb Hymns compilation, and the release of their first single, ‘Ignore The Machine’ along with these many gigs rough this living nightmare out of the realm of REM sleep and into the realm of reality. Their initial full-length LP, Who’s Been Sleeping In My Brain, release in the U.S. with the addition of the ever-popular ‘Drive My Rocket (Up Uranus)’ in 1983 was a certain cause for alarm on their first American headlining tour. Guard your children, this is no ordinary band. (And just when you thought that Slash was the baddest boy around.)
Since 1983 they have released the Acid Bath LP, the Liquid Head in Tokyo LP, the Tokyo LP and video, A Purple Glistener – a U.K. video performance, the I’m Doing Time in a Maximum Security Twilight Home LP, It, The Album LP, the Here Cum Germs LP, and The Impossible Mission EP, not to mention their singles compilation All Our Yesterdays, and their video collections Edit and Overdose. What, you say? You don’t have any of these? You’re missing a whole chapter of rock history? Shame on you. Shame. Shame. Well, you can rectify all that by running out right now and buying the new Alien Sex Fiend album called Another Planet which contains 13 mind-splitting tracks.
Alien Sex Fiend are almost the undisputed originators of the fanzine, or as they call it, “Fiendzine,” and are quintessential independently produced and managed band. Okay, so they’re not Faster Pussycat or even Kip Winger, but they sure are fun. This is sonic industrial music with a dancefloor beat and grossly distorted guitar/keyboard feedback/overload that will rip your ears off. It may not be commercial, but you sure can dance to it.
Having been an underground Fiend-fan (along with the dubious likes of Iggy Pop, Bowie, and Alice Cooper), I had often wondered what sort of background would produce such a phenomenon – I mean, man. When he called me up from his studio in Wales, I had my chance to ask him the few questions that had been lurking the back of my mind.***
CHRISTINE NATANAEL: Nik, there tends to be a trend now towards more bands that are in your vein – things like Sigue Sigue Sputnik in ’84/’85 and now with Skinny Puppy. Do you think that they’ve been influenced by you or vice versa?
NIK FIEND: I don’t want to slag other bands off, like the Sputniks and all the other groups, but we have been doing it for a long time and we’re not part of that and they’re not part of us. We’re our own entity and we do our own thing. We don’t want to be conjured up or tied in with any of that sort of scene. Nothing against what they do, but we’re not influenced and we don’t care what they do. We do what we do and that’s it.
CN: A lot of people look at your band and they go, “God, it’s all a gimmick and this guy really truly thinks he’s Herman Munster…”
NF: Well, that’s not such a band thing, and they will see in the end and they’ll realize that they missed the joke. I thought you were gonna give me a really hard run and say “Fuck off. It just doesn’t fit with what we want.”
CN: So, my reputation precedes me? [Laughs.] What were you like as a child?
NF: As a child? Quite loveable, I reckon, but not really loved. I got in the way. I caused my parents to have to get married, and that was a bad thing. I stopped me mum from flighting around India, which she wanted to do, so that was a bad thing. On top of that, I wanted to be Batman, and I had a Batman outfit. I wanted to be a Man From U.N.C.L.E., and I had a gun. I wanted to be Tarzan. I used to wear a little pair of swimming trunks with fur stuck on the front and the back with a little snake belt around it. I used to be a football hooligan, then I got to about 17 and I thought, “Hold on a minute. I don’t really want to fight with anybody. I really love music.” I used to jump around on the bed miming to ‘You Drive Me Nervous’ and stuff like that. You know, the broom handle cliché in front of the mirror. Then what happened was, I used to hang out with a little group and they used to give me 10 minutes at the end of their 6 hour rehearsal session, and I had a song which I had written in the basic chords, and they enjoyed playing it so much that they had eventually become like a backing group for me. I managed to get some gigs around town at the Roxy thing in the punk days. I’ve always played music and spent all my money on music, and comics, which I see as music, at any rate, it’s all one or another. You read your comics waiting for the music, and vice versa. Eventually I set this band up by accident and just followed my nose and that and I made it here. That’s the truth. That’s how it happened. I had a leather jacket when I was 8 years old with a green dragon on the back, prior to anything punk and a pair of jeans with the knees ripped out, and a pair of horrible, sort of what you would call agro-boots, I suppose, but I could never wear them out and everybody used to laugh at me because they all had Dr. Maarten boots.
CN: So you were one of those oddball kids that got shit thrown at them when they came out of the house?
NF: Everyday. But I had really good friends on the outside as well, so I didn’t have it any harder than anybody else. But I did get beat up. I’ve just got one of those faces that, when I walk into a bar somebody wants to smack it.
CN: So you were a loner?
NF: Yeah, because what happened is that all my friends got into Alice Cooper, and then they said, “Well, we’ve all grown up.” And I was basically stuck with it. My old man still says to me all the time, “When are you gonna get a proper job?” He considers a proper job like window cleaning, bricklaying, or driving. And I’ve done all that. I’ve carried bricks. I was a window cleaner. I drove TV delivery vans. I got hi-jacked doing that so I lost my job. I’ve got put on Valium. I’ve had nervous breakdowns. I’ve done it all.
Most of these so-called normal people take far more drugs than anybody I know in the music business, and they really want to lose their head, and they can’t. They’re frustrated. They go home and they kick their wife’s head in and they kick the kids and they kick the cat and they break everything up. They drive like complete assholes. They’ve got no respect for anybody. They’re dangerous people because they are not doing what is really inside them and what they want and need to be doing. I was a very dangerous person. I could have definitely been in jail, several times, really, but somehow I’ve got a great skull and I managed to skid through it all. I met up with Mrs. Fiend, who hasn’t much steadied me, but she’s there to give me a kick up the pants when it’s all gone too far. If I was on my own, basically, I would have ended up dead or in prison, or in a nuthouse.
© Christine Natanael, Metal Mania, September 1989