[sic] Magazine

Interview. Klammer, by Beauty In Chaos.

Leeds band Klammer and Los Angeles outfit Beauty in Chaos have more links and common ground than most golf courses. They also happen to know each other. As part of a unique and exciting feature idea the two bands have agreed to interview one another.

This is the second of two featurette interviews. Completing the circle, here Klammer’s Steve Whitfield is interviewed by Beauty In Chaos’s Michael Ciravolo. Steve from Klammer has produced The Cure and The Mission while Beauty In Chaos comprises members of both bands as well as and Ministry and many more. A darkwave supergroup, essentially!

The following interview touches upon the wider post-punk scene as well as the two respective bands and will likely thrill fans of all the aforementioned acts.

Please find the link to part one at the foot of the article.

Enjoy the interview.

Hey man … I enjoy the new record quite a bit. Takes me ‘back’ .
LOVE hearing guitars!!.. and great cover concept.

1. Speaking of guitars, I think you got some really great guitar sounds on the record. I’m going to venture to guess you miked up real amps as opposed to using plug-ins or other amp ‘modelers’?

Thanks Michael, coming from you that means a lot. You have some brilliant guitar sounds and songs on your album.
It’s a mixture of all of the above! Most of it is miked up, mainly through my Vox AC30. But there’s also some parts recorded through my Boss GT-6 straight in to the computer and also some DI’d guitars put through amp modeling in Pro Tools. I also used a few old stomp boxes too.

2. Since you have recorded and produced other bands before, do you approach that role differently when it is your band and your songs?

In some ways I find it easier, I just have to have an internal dialogue with myself instead of having to get into the head of another band/musician and scoop out what they’re after. In other ways it’s harder, I’m having to be a musician, engineer and producer all at the same time.
When I’m working with other bands I’m having to constantly be mindful of their vision of their songs. I’m never going to make other bands sound like Klammer, that’s only for this band.

3. In the past when I was producing other bands, I started to find myself listening to music differently, focusing more on the ‘production’ than the actual song… how do your separate being a producer and being a ‘listener’ ?

I think it tends to be influenced by where I’m listening to music. If it’s in a studio environment I’m constantly zoning in on the production and playing. But If it’s say on the radio, I can just listen to it as a song. Although I probably never quite switch that part of my brain off totally! I often wonder if authors, film directors have the same problem, can they ever read a book or watch a film without analyzing it? Of course in the studio you do you to have to move between listening to the song as a whole and zooming in on detail through the whole recording and mixing process.

4. Your album title ‘You Have Been Processed’ strikes me with some ‘Orwellian’ style social commentary; is there a common underlying lyrical thread throughout?

I asked the singer/lyricist Poss about his view and here’s his response
“Yes there is a theme to the lyrics, which only became obvious to me once we’d assembled all the tracks. It’s a comment on the modern way of living, isolation, depersonalisation and a lack of compassion to one’s fellow man.”

For me the title is just a statement on modern life in general. Just about everything we do or use now has been ‘processed’ in one way or another. Our identity with ID and passports, the food we eat, the medicine we take, even the music we listen to is processed (even if we went back 60 years and all crowded round one microphone it was still processed). We’re not at all hostile to this, I love being alive at this point in history.
The cover fits in with this as we used real ID photos of each member of the band and then chopped them up, and put them back together to form a new processed person. A fifth member of the band!

5. With so many great guitarists and bands coming out of the UK, who are some of your early influences and what made you pick up the guitar?

The first wave of punk had a massive influence on me, I started going to gigs and suddenly thought, hey! I could start a band. Even though at the time I couldn’t play an instrument!
The people who made me pick up a guitar in the beginning were Robert Smith and Bernard Sumner. So it was amazing to eventually work with Robert. My first guitar was so bad it would only stay in tune if I had 3 strings or less on it! So I learnt with just the E, A + D strings on it.

6. When the punk movement exploded, UK band’s certainly made a statement. The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and The Stranglers were a big part of my mid-teen record collection, What did you think of the punk bands from this side of the pond? Ie: The Ramones, The New Dolls, Dead Kennedys, Iggy, etc?

I loved The Ramones and Iggy straight away and still do. The Dolls took me a little longer to get into. I was just a little too young when they started, but I eventually backtracked and got into them and MC5.
I never really got in to the 2nd wave of punk bands that turned their amps up to 11 and just sounded like band rock bands, the hardcore scene also passed me by.
After the initial hit of punk I quickly got into the likes of Television, Pere Ubu and Talking Heads in the late 70’s. In later decades I really got into US bands liked Sonic Youth, Pixies, Nirvana, QOTSA and more recently LCD Sound System.
The day that Public Image released their first single ‘Public Image’, I knew we were moving onto something new and exciting! The Stranglers Black And White album was also a massive turning point for me. After getting into that I started to hear great new bands like Joy Division, The Cure and Gang Of Four coming through and pushing the boundries. These bands are very English in they’re attitude, playing and sound, in the same way that Kraftwerk had to come Germany. It’s something I’ve tried to do with Klammer and remain very English sounding.

7. Typical question, but what are your top-5 ‘desert island’ records. The ones you simply can’t do without?

Tough question to get it down to 5!
I’ll go with 5 that I feel changed my idea of music forever but tomorrow they’d probably be The Clash, Nirvana, Gang Of Four, Orbital and Wire tracks in there!

Kraftwerk – Autobahn
Bowie – Heroes
John Barry – The James Bond Theme
Joy Division – Transmission
The Cure – A Forest

8. What is your ‘go to’ set-up to get your sound? Guitar, amp and effects ?

Nothing out of the ordinary really. Fender Jaguar with a fixed bridge, into an old Boss GT-6 and then into my Vox AC30. The GT-6 is great but it took a long time to get into the depths of programming it, the presets were terrible. I made a conscious decision at the start of Klammer to get a multi effects pedal as I didn’t want to get in the nightmare of gigging with a massive pedal board.
On this album I also started using a Baritone guitar and I also used DADGAD tuning on a couple of songs on my Jag.

9. I’m going to venture to say you and I bought records the same as ‘teens’ … loving the vinyl, the packaging, the liner notes… everything. What do you think about the way most people ‘listen’ and consume music now?

Yeah I think you’re right. I bet they’ll be a lot of the same records in our collections. I did love reading the vinyl covers over and over again as I listened to new albums.
It’s a little sad that so many people listen to mp3’s on really bad speakers or earbuds. But at the same time it so amazing to have so much music with you on your phone when you’re on the move.
It’s sad about the demise of the album, so many people just cherry pick certain tracks off an album now and don’t listen to it from start to finish as the band artist had planned it.
But we have to realise people likes us are the freaks, most people have always just wanted to listen to songs and have never been bothered by the small details.

10. What are your thoughts on music streaming? And do you think Spotify, etc has hurt the ‘value’ that is placed on music?

They are great for hearing so much new music, but artists do get a terrible rate from streaming. When I was younger you had to really decide which records you were going to buy, now music is so easy to come by I think it has cheapened it a little. Easy come easy go!
Something I’ve noticed in the studio over the last decade, which didn’t happen so much before, is musicians are constantly referring to other bands and songs via streaming, rather than just getting their own sound. Especially through the mixing process.

Can’t let you off without asking these ??? 

11. So we both share a love for The Cure and The Mission … and ‘man crushes’ on Wayne and Simon! You had the pleasure of working with them in the studio from the other side the console! Can you give a quick story of memory of working with both these legendary bands?

So many stories I can’t share with you in print! Sorry!

The first time I worked with The Cure was for a Elecktra Records compilation, they recorded 3 different versions of The Doors ‘Hello I Love You’. The thing I was most nervous about was if I met them and they turned out to be total bastards! I was so happy when they turned out to be fantastic people.
A special memory for me is the recording of ‘Friday I’m In Love’. Robert had gone home on late on the Thursday night and came back to the studio Friday afternoon with a new idea for a song in his head. The band quickly rehearsed it that evening and recorded a demo of it. Then on the following Friday the record version of it was recorded. Then months later the video, which I was lucky to be invited to be in, was filmed on a Friday! So the day of Friday featured very heavily in the making of that song.
When Robert did his first vocal take, everyone in the studio instantly thought it was a hit. That’s the only time that ever happened to me in the studio.

Wayne had a certain reputation at the time for being difficult, but I found him to be a great guy and loved working with him. I don’t think he quite gets the recognition he deserves, a very talented guy.

Your relationship changes with a band quite quickly when you’re living and working with them. You all have a common bond of trying to get these songs recorded as best as you can. I’ve always felt that I’m one of the gang/family for the duration of the recording and sometimes longer.

12. How different was it working with Robert Smith and Wayne Hussey, as both are certainly ‘leaders’ of their respective bands?

Both are indeed their band’s leaders, and their records sound like they do because of them. Both are excellent in the studio, not just on the playing side but also their knowledge of the studio/engineering/production. And yet both still let the other band members do their thing.
I loved working with both of them, they’ve both very intelligent and fun guys to be around.

13. Simon Gallup and Craig Addams are certainly two of the most iconic bassists of the ‘Goth / Darkwave’ genre and I think both are massively underrated. What did you learn from watching these two guys approach their parts?

The two albums I did with The Mission, didn’t coincide with Craig being in the band (although Andy Cousins who was, is also an excellent bass player). I would have loved to worked with Craig.

Simon was brilliant to work with. His sound was easy to record, as it’s just there coming out of his fingers and his amp. The precision and feel of playing is amazing. I learned from Simon that basslines can be an important counter melody to what’s happening in the rest of the song and the way he drives the songs.

14. Finally, any chance of KLAMMER coming to the US or is it just too cost prohibitive?

We would fucking love to but unfortunately the US makes it very hard for us on this side of the pond to do so. There’s a massive difference in cost and problems for us to come to you, rather than you coming to us! But hey if you need a band to open for you, you know where we are! 😉

Thanks again for taking the time, and hopefully one day we can either work together or have a drink and swap Gallup stories!

I’d really like that


[sic] Magazine wishes to thank Klammer, Beauty In Chaos and Shameless Promotion for the interview. Photography with kind permission and not for re-use. Klammer Press shots by Steve Dutton and Lesley Whitfield. Breakfast selfie by…. well, take a wild guess!

Interview Part One

Beauty In Chaos website

Klammer website

Artists Picks of 2018 – BIC