How Was 2022 For The Merciless PIG Of Darkness?
19 December 2022
(photography by E Gabriel Edvy)
Raymond Watts aka PIG is a centipede artist, a pioneering member of the mid-1980s industrial/darkwave/Goth rock scene who recorded/released multiple longplayers since then, wrote/writes music for fashion, film artists, and exhibitions and still found/finds
time to collaborate with other like-minded artists.
As a vivid fan it’s an utterly cool pleasure to talk to the merciless PIG of darkness
about the past, about 2022 and the future, about his imposing 2022 album – a mix
of brawny industrial Rammstein bombast, nightmares in slow-motion, wham-bam-glam drones and gospel chants – about Berlin and Japan, about his dog Wally and much more.
But as usual Turn Up The Volume starts an interview with a slice of music.
Open your ears and eyes for one of the highlights of this year’s new LP
The Merciless Light.
You started your career back in the late 80s when living in Berlin.
What and or who triggered you to go on a musical journey, Raymond?
“Ever since I was about 8 or 9 I found music was the artwork that resonated most
strongly with me. We had a little band in my neighbourhood (I was the drummer, then
bass player) and of course I was inspired by the great glam rock bands of the early 70s.
By 1976 I was already a little suburban punk rocker and I could really run
my colours up the mast of punk as the ethos was ‘anyone can do this’.”
Did Berlin, the city itself, inspired your musical muse?
Were you there when the Wall came down?
“I moved to Berlin in 1985 after a year in Hamburg and it was the place I felt most comfortable because of the absolute duality and division of the city. West and
East Berlin were two contrasting and opposite systems.
What inspired me was the anarchic nature and the greyness combined with DIY bars that never closed, the wall, the fantastic and fantastically weird bands that you wouldn’t find the like of in any other city … and the bullet holes. So the answer is yes … the city, the drugs, the nightlife, the sleaze, the fear, frenzy and delight all fed my musical muse.”
“In answer to the second part of your question; where was I when the wall came down?
I was at Checkpoint Charlie on Nov 9th 1989. I had been in the studio that day producing a band and I got a call from some friends who said they were coming to get me as it was about to open. We got there just as the barrier lifted and a tide of East Germans flooded through to much cheering and celebration.
I lived close to the wall and for the next few weeks there was a constant sound of hammers and chisels on the wall as people (myself included) chipped bits away as keepsakes. It was a wonderful and wild time but for me it signified that the party
was over in West Berlin and it was time to leave.”
You choose to operate under a moniker to present yourself
and your work to the world. Why did you go for PIG?
“It’s a short word that I like.”
What or who attracted you to the world of industrial/darkwave rock, Raymond?
“You will think this is incredibly arrogant and self-important but I wasn’t attracted to it…
it was attracted to me! At the moment I feel more attracted to the world of opera – but that’s just today, tomorrow I may feel more attracted to the world of cooking or designing clothes or writing poetry.
I don’t spend a lot of time seeing or listening to industrial or darkwave (whatever that is) bands. When I was younger I felt the burning intensity of seeing that kind of stuff as it was totally and utterly mesmerising. To work with a band like Neubauten at their peak and be doing sound for them was to be a part of it, and maybe having been a part of it I’ve been looking for and experiencing other things since then.”
When looking back at your extensive catalogue, which one of your tracks/albums would you pick to introduce PIG to people who never heard his music?
“I suggest ‘Symphony for the Devil’ from ‘The Swining’.”
Last September your new excellent LP ‘THE MERCILESS LIGHT came out. Is there a big picture behind it or do the songs all stand on their own.
“I would hope that the songs stand up on their own and there’s a bigger picture to it. Each PIG album is a Gesamtkunstwerk. An entire artistic body of work; artwork, music, words, videos, production and performance. I don’t know what your interpretation of that album is and I’m never too sure but I think there’s something about the excoriating nature of truth in there amongst the madness and the machines.”
One of the standout tracks, to my ears, is massive banger THE DARK ROOM, accompanied by a dazzling video. What’s the track about and what is it that you wanted to visualize with the clip?
“It seems that possibly the song is using the analogy of a literal dark room where rolls
of film are developed. You need a dark room to see what the image is. Maybe we only develop in the quiet and dark space inside ourselves. Change happens in the dark.”
Another big one is TARANTULA. An (earlier) hammer blow remixed by Jim Davies. Why is it that in the ‘dance’ genre remixes are like a second nature and far more common than in ‘rock’?
“I actually have no idea how to answer that. Maybe the dance genre has more
elements in common and they can be transplanted more easily from song to song.”
Throughout your career the artwork of your albums/EP/singles always was something to look out for. In what way were you involved in the choice, development and final touch of the images?
“I’m lucky enough to work with Vlad McNeally who does PIG artwork and Gabriel Edvy who does the cover photography and videos. I generally have an idea which I discuss with them then I usually stand well back and both of them come up with something vastly more interesting!”
You seem to have a strong attraction for all things Japanese. You had your label there, toured there, lived there. What is it that fascinates you so much about Japan, Raymond?
“I used to spend a lot of time in Japan. It was my second home. I don’t know what it is about being there that resonates but the whole aesthetic makes me feel comfortable.
When I first went there for 5 months in 1981, with a band I was with, I just wanted to stay.
I felt like I’d landed on the set of Blade Runner but with the best catering imaginable. It was heaven and hell but turbocharged with fantastic manners and technology.”
Industrial/darkwave/Goth music seems to be around for ages. It’s imperishable.
Any idea why the genre still appeals to so many people around the globe?
“I wish I knew… Maybe we all need to move on and find something new!”
You toured regularly with greats (NIN, Neubaten, your former band KMFDM, and many more). Which acts/artists are still on your wish list to tour with in the future?
“Having been locked into a relentless cycle with PIG in the last few years I need to take some time out to refresh my creative juices and one of the things I’ll be doing is listening to more new and interesting artists and maybe think about who to tour with next time we go out.”
We’re nearing the end of 2022. What’s the best track
and album you heard all year, Raymond?
“Freddie de Tomasso’s album II Tenore has a lovely recording of ‘Mario’ on it from
‘Tosca’ but maybe it’s because I saw him perform it last night at The Royal Opera
House in Covent Garden.”
If you were asked to cover a Xmas song, which
one would it be and how would it sound like?
“It would sound like this; here’s a link to the PIG Christmas ep Black Mass that
I released a few years ago as a fundraiser for International Rescue Committee.”
Which song (s) will you play at New Year’s Eve and why?
“‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!, ‘I Feel Love’ by Donna Summer.
And ‘Im Abendrot’ by Richard Strauss (with Jessye Norman).”
Name three things you really want to happen in 2023 for PIG.
“It would be great if touring in the US was a bit more viable and I’d
like to re-release my back catalogue … though this is happening slowly!
The Swining / Red Raw & Sore have been remastered and will be out on Cleopatra
next summer … and thirdly and more importantly I’d love my dog Wally to stop
howling and barking like a hungry little wolf every time I stop for a coffee when I walk him.”
Thank you very much for this interview, Raymond.
May the road rise with PIG in 2023.
You can stream/buy
THE MERCILESS LIGHT here via
PIG: Bandcamp – Spotify – Instagram – Facebook