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Interview: Attrition

Martin of Attrition joins us for a written interview as we were unable to squeeze a video on in during the weekend of Infest. So please join us as we discuss Infest and what makes Martin tick in the music world!


ATTRITION are pioneers in a darker electronica. Formed in 1980 in Coventry, England, influenced by a mix of punk ideology and experimental art aesthetics, they emerged as part of the early '80's UK Industrial scene alongside contemporaries Coil, Test Department, Legendary Pink Dots, In The Nursery, Portion Control et al.

Founder Martin Bowes has steered the band through an over 40 year career, fuelled by a succession of critically acclaimed albums...

The band has regularly toured Europe, North America, South America and Asia, appeared at major festivals and had their music included on a number of TV and film soundtracks....

Through their career Attrition have worked with musicians as diverse as Wolfgang Flur, psychedelic veterans The Legendary Pink Dot’s , punk legend TV Smith to Franck Dematteis of the Paris Opera.

Attrition’s music has featured on countless releases - from 1984’s “Bullshit detector 3” on Crass records to the hugely successful “Animal liberation” album alongside Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Smiths, Nina Hagen & Lene Lovich etc…

Their song “Acid Tongue” featured on KTEL’s Industrial story CD - a who’s who of industrial music with Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Ministry, Nitzer Ebb, Neubauten et al…

In Germany Orkus magazine’s Best of the 90’s collection featured their darkwave classic “A girl called harmony”…

Martin’s increasing studio production work at his studio, The Cage, has included mixes for The Damage Manual (Martin Atkins, Jah Wobble, Geordie Walker, Chris Connelly et al…), Die Form, In the Nursery, Black tape for a Blue girl, Mona Mur/En Esch and mastering for countless bands and labels…

He contributes synths and vocals on a song on the last Pigface album, is the narrators voice on US horror series, “C for Chaos”, has written the score to US horror film G.H.O.S.T from Mutantville productions …

Their most recent album, Millions of the Mouthless Dead (inspired by Martin’s grandfathers experiences on the Western Front in 1917) includes collaborations with Anni Hogan (known for her work with Marc Almond through the 80’s) and the legendary Wolfgang Flur (ex-Kraftwerk)… ATTRITION toured in the UK, Italy, New Zealand, Transylvania, Canada and Japan in 2018/19, and are back touring after covid while currently working on an all new album for release later in 2022: The Black Maria. Meanwhile setting up shows around the world in support of it…

"Attrition have always been a nexus of industrial fury, gothic drama, ambient structural finesse and classical chamber orchestrations. Stunning in scope, character and intellect, Martin Bowes has been a paragon of true creative prowess, holding in two hands the past and future of music, and smashing them together with a calculated and charismatic menace. Bowes builds his dark industrial music with all the compassion and attention to detail of a classical musician..."



Q. Hello! Thank you for joining us. You played a great show at Infest, and you had a very special line up so please can you tell us about that?

A. Thank you! We really enjoyed it. This was our first reunion show… we reformed the first ATTRITION line up from the early eighties… The one that made all the early singles (Monkey in a bin/the Voice of God/Shrinkwrap) and the first 2 albums. We hadn’t all played together on stage since 1984. Ash (on keys) has to fly over from san Francisco for every show! We will be recording a new album together soon too.

Q. For those who have not heard your music, how would you describe yourselves to them?

A. haha… always the worst question to ask a musician… If I could describe the music well enough I would probably not need to make it!

It’s a mix of styles… although some of those styles were named after we made the music. I would throw words around like “darkwave” or “dark industrial” and sometimes “dark ambient” …there have been a lot of albums over the years and the music has always varied from the early post-punk to industrial to a little gothic (when we release “A girl called harmony in 91) to dark ambient scores (we have written some horror film soundtracks)…

Q. What is the most important aspect of creating music for you and what driving force keeps you going with making new music?

A. It is always a personal expression… and still being alive tends to inspire me! I still get a feeling of only just starting with music… there is so much more to do and discover with it… it’s been my whole life… I used to also teach music technology here at the College in Coventry, but for the last 12 years I have been running my studio, The Cage, producing and mastering a lot of other bands… I do love what I do… and I don’t have to get up early!

Q. If you could collaborate with any artist of your choice, who would it be?

A. I don’t have any ambitions to collaborate with other artists as such… but I love to work with guest musicians on the ATTRITION albums… had a lot of collaborations with Violin, viola and cello players over the years…I am excited about the mix of electronics and played instruments… the best of both worlds.

Q. Do you have any festival survival tips, either as a crowd member or to other bands?

A. I usually prefer club gigs as a bit less crazy… but Infest was one of the most organised and friendly set ups I’ve ever known… loved it…

Survival wise I’d say don’t start drinking too early but… well…. It’s a tricky one!

Q. Have you ever had a particularly touching fan moment that has stuck with you over the years?

A. I have had many… one of the most amazing things is to meet (online) a woman named Harmony… her parents named her after my song…(in fact I’ve met two named Harmony now for the same reason..) Best review I ever had!

Q. Do you have any pre-performance rituals to help you get ready?

A. Not pre-performance but I do have a thing about burning incense on stage… I do it at home almost every day too… it creates my own space or “church” to perform in… (I’ve only ever set

off 2 fire alarms on my tours!)

Q. Where has been you favourite place to play live and where would you still like to play?

A. So many memories… some for the performance, some for the audience, the clubs, the destinations… the adventures… so many places… we have played in 5 continents now so been lucky to get so far around the world… Hawaii was bloody amazing!!! (thanks Anne


At infest I had two cups, one with silly questions and one with sensible questions to pick one of each out of, here are the two I lucky dipped for you..

Q. Who is your favourite fictional villain?

A. I think I will have to say Dracula! I read Bram Stoker’s book when I was about 14… in 2018 we performed our dark ambient horror soundtrack in the mountains of Transylvania… and I wish I could have gone back and let me 14 year old self know about it!

Q. What is an instrument that you’d love to include in your music that you have not yet done so and why?

A. A full orchestra sometime would be amazing… although not all the time… very expensive to do it… I am also waiting for Behringer to release their Synthi modular synth clone and that is going straight into some new music!!

Q. What are the best things about the alternative music scene for you, and is there anything you'd like to see change for the better?

A. I love that there is a close worldwide music community.. meeting other musicians over the years in different parts of the world… it’s a family.

I cant think of anything I would change!

Q. Is there any life advice you could give that being in music has given you?

A. Being in music has changed and shaped my life, and I can’t imagine life any other way… it has enriched mine so much… its not always easy though… you have to work bloody hard… and believe in yourself… ignore the detractors… as there will always be some….

Q. Anything you would like to say to your fans?

A. Just thank you for being there… and if anyone is interested here are our media contacts..

Thank you for the interview!!!

Martin Bowes. Coventry. England. September 2022.


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