Coil’s ‘Love’s Secret Domain (30th Anniversary Edition)’ | Danny Hyde | Interview
In 1991 Coil released the third of their early classic full-length albums ‘Love’s Secret Domain’, seemingly casting aside the gloom and funereal beauty of its predecessors in favour of a painstakingly multi-layered hallucinogenic electronic beast.
To mark its 30 year anniversary Infinite Fog Productions released a fully remastered re-release of ‘Love’s Secret Domain’, available for the first time ever in its entirety on vinyl with 10 rare and mostly unreleased tracks and alternative versions from the period added as a bonus to a luxurious 3LP/2CD set.
‘Love’s Secret Domain’ contains among its many highlights the Lynchian William Blake tribute of its title track and the intoxicating single ‘Windowpane’, original versions of the later Coil live staple ‘Teenage Lightning’ and the majestically warped classicisms of ‘Chaostrophy’. Marc Almond guests on the typhonian ‘Titan Arch’ and This Heat’s Charles Hayward provides some amazing drum stylings.
The album was produced by Coil and Danny Hyde, pushing their sound ideas to their very limits. Beyond the iconic Steven Stapleton cover art here reproduced in unseen definition the doors of perception still open wide for both long-term Coil aficionados and new-comers to this supremely innovative release to explore unknown depths.
Are you excited about the reissue of Coil’s legendary album from 1991?
Am I excited about the release of ‘Love’s Secret Domain’? Yes, I am. It’s about time it got onto a bigger stage and Infinite Fog did such a fantastic job about it. There has been a little bit of bickering with some of the old fans but, we’re trying to get new fans to listen to this. You know, why should these things just die away in a few crumpled old copies in someone’s bedroom. So, yes, I am really excited about the re-release of ‘Love’s Secret Domain’.
“The mixing of the album was intense”
It is already the thirtieth anniversary. Time flies fast.
It’s thirtieth anniversary! Yes, time does fly. It flies far too fast, the bastard. Looking back on the album, well, I told the story many times, it was, err, we really killed ourselves, the mixing of the album. I mean, recording the album was fine, we moved in an out many studios but the mixing of the album was intense. I think four bodies, that’s Pete, Geoff, Stephen and me, put ourselves through hell mixing that to get it done in a certain amount of time, in that we…I can’t remember us actually going home in between mixing songs it seems like we slept in the place, seems like we were there for the week. That’s my memories of the album, funny enough.
This special edition includes many rare and unreleased tracks plus alternative versions.
Well, all the tracks we did around that time have historic significance, so it is good they are now included. That is all I can say on that, really.
Where did you meet John Balance and Peter Christopherson?
Where did I meet them? Well, I met them in a studio called Paradise Studio, I told this story a few times, but I will cut it short. I’d had a horrendous my first, funny enough, LSD, my first LSD trip in Amsterdam, which was accidental, believe it or not, it turned into a quite horrendous evening. Quite a few months later, I was in the studio, Paradise Studio, as a freelance house engineer and the band Coil came in. And for some reason within Pete and Geoff I could see they’ll understand my, my torment and not very professionally I might add, I decided to bring out the trip in Amsterdam, the LSD trip and funny enough, as I kind of expected or as I hoped they were very understanding and we chatted about it and then we got on with work and I felt much better having people around that seemed to know what hell I carried for these months. After that, we just worked professionally, we never talked about that again. But I got a feeling it bonded us, it certainly bonded me to them. But I feel that maybe they considered instead of working with white coats and microscopes, they considered they were working with a human. And that bonded them kind of to me.
Coil was originally a side project to Psychic TV?
I have no idea, no idea about the history of Coil. Never looked into it. Pete and Geoff became friends and that was good enough for me. I had no intention to go into searching what they’ve done before. We were moving forward.
Peter Christopherson had been a founder of Psychic TV and member of Throbbing Gristle. How would you describe in your own words the music of Coil?
Impossible to describe but I describe it like that, let’s see what will happen. It’s totally free and today if it’s going to be jazz it’s going to be jazz, tomorrow if it’s going to be dance, it’s going to be dance, on the third day if it’s going to be drones, it’ll be drones. So let’s just see what happens, it’s the journey that’s fun. Once we’re there, we move on and we do something else.
You weren’t just a musician on ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ but also (co)produced the album. The core of the band Coil always consisted of John Balance and Peter Christopherson. All other musicians were part-time members. However, some of the music on ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ was written by you.
I’d say it came the other way round. I was co-producing the album because I had a bunch of machines I was very au fait with. It was natural that you would write parts. If there was a gap and someone was a bit stuck with something to do you would come up with something. That’s the way it developed. So, yes, I was engineer and co-producer but everybody… I mean if it so happened, it didn’t… if the coffee man walked in and came up with a great trumpet line we would have used him. It was that sort of environment, it was free.
Infinite Fog Productions mentioned that they have officially licensed the iconic cover painting by Steven Stapleton. His art is an essential part of the album.
Steven Stapleton painting? I have no idea. I mean I assume Pete and Geoff picked that painting. I’m just glad that Infinite Fog got that painting, got the use from Steven for that, because that is an iconic part of this project. I mean, if we had released ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ 30th edition, and we used other artwork, like, maybe some other’s are doing, then to me that isn’t it. You know, this is ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ and that painting is a big part of it. I don’t have commentary on how Steven worked on it, I have never actually spoken to Stapleton. But that would be an interesting conversation on some future point hopefully.
“It was that being open to anything which created the environment that ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ blossomed from”
What kind of album did you want to make with ‘Love’s Secret Domain’? What was the creation process?
There was no motive to try and make a certain type of album. I think from the Coil point of view they just didn’t want to make ‘Horse Rotovator’ II, so they were open to anything. And it was that being open to anything which created the environment that ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ blossomed from. So there was no masterplan for it to be a certain way. We’d start with a track however that started and see where it went. And then we’d start with another track and see where that went and somehow when they’re all done you put them together and you got ‘Love’s Secret Domain’. Now you have to understand it was mixed in a really intense week, but it was actually recorded over the period of a couple of years. Over those years, you know, we bought new bits of toys, new bits of equipment, so when a song was started, these new pieces of equipment were used on that song. And so that would shape that song. But there was never a masterplan, never.
Do you think a concept plays a very important role in Coil’s music?
In the beginning, no, I think we just went whatever happened, but by the time they hit ‘Musick to Play in the Dark’, I think, they were really going for a tonal type approach. And then Geoff died and me and Pete worked again and again there was no masterplan, it was just let’s see what happens. So, no, but in terms of their shows I think there was concept. I wasn’t involved in their shows, I only did the sound for one at the Barbican. So I couldn’t comment on that.
How would you compare it to other work by Coil?
Totally different. I would imagine, I mean, it’s much more sort of “dancy” let’s say. And it was spread over a few years of recording, as we grew in years. Later on, things seemed to be done a lot faster and different, I know that might not make sense.
Do you think a musician is the best critic of it’s own work?
I’d say if you make a track and then you listen back years later, you will be the best critic of that work because suddenly you can see the glaring errors that occur to you and only you know what you were trying to achieve if you were trying to achieve anything at all. In terms of general criticism though, no, I suppose, objectively, someone outside has a better common view of what’s wrong with something. But if you’re down to the microscopic elements of a particular track only you know if it’s as you wanted it to be. Only you know that. But it often takes a couple of years or maybe months if you’re lucky of getting away from it and then listening again and it will become apparent what you wish you’d changed.
Looking back, what was the highlight of your time with the band?
Well, making ‘Love’s Secret Domain’, mixing ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ was a real highlight. Then obviously New Orleans, because of just being in New Orleans and being away a whole new freshness to working. And then, funny enough in Bangkok with Peter, working on ‘The New Backwards’, and The Threshold HouseBoys Choir et cetera, it was lovely just working in the wonderful country of Thailand and both of us relaxed and just getting on with something I believe was keeping us going to a certain degree because so much had changed.
How are you currently coping with the world pandemic and what are your predictions for the music industry?
I assume when it’s over I get this feeling like in 1989 / 1990 youngsters will love massive raves where they could just go wild. Me personally, being an old fart the pandemic hasn’t really affected me bar not allowing me to travel to countries I’d like to travel to. I be at home, I work in my studio, so it’s not really affecting me but it has certainly affected live bands.
You worked with many incredible artists, including Nine Inch Nails. Would it be possible for you choose a few collaborations that still warm your heart?
Well obviously I loved working on ‘Gave Up’, the first one we done for Nine Inch Nails because it was… the Coil boys who were not really remixers being thrown in with a world famous band. And we had good facilities, good studios and it was good fun. And obviously ‘Closer’ because by then we had refined it a little bit and we knew what we are doing and it was just great material to work on.
What else currently occupies your life?
Well, obviously, I have five children, one in Thailand, who requires financial help, and some of the kids here in the UK, obviously with Covid, they have needed a little bit financial help, so I need to do whatever I can to try and get money for them. But in terms of projects, well, when Covid kicked in, I said, at the very beginning, this is a great time for anybody who has ever wanted to write a book or compose a tune. Now, like most people, I didn’t realize it would drag on this long. But in the first few months I really used the time to dig out old songs from twenty, thirty years ago and finish them. The final project that I’ll put together I think will be ‘Aural Rage’ and ‘Electric Sewer Age’ combining for one final album which I hoped would be out now but obviously we’re trying to make money which when your writing songs you can’t do, has kept me busy and it delayed things. So, who knows, maybe 2022, we shall see.
Thank you for taking your time. Last word is yours
Any last words? Yeah, I hope a whole new generation buy and listen to ‘Love’s Secret Domain’ and without them being biased by any pre conceived ideas of Coil just listen to the album and some of the craziness within the tracks and I hope they appreciate it. It isn’t like a lot of tunes are now very formulaic and composed with the basic same principles. Then, to make samples work for you, you really have to work, you couldn’t just throw them into Ableton and it would put them in time for you. I mean, you really had the time stretch things and change the pitch for it to fit. So you really had to struggle to get anything to go. And I hope that a new generation will listen to this album and appreciate the work that went into it because a lot of it sounds simple but it wasn’t. And hopefully get real enjoyment from it. Danny Hyde