Friday, June 21, 2024
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Vicious Pink surprise with new LP

As many a longtime fan of the 80s band, Vicious Pink. One evening, playing around on one of my Instagram accounts, I took a clip from a vintage fashion show in Paris and paired it with their song, “I confess”. Jameson Farn reports.

Not long after I posted it with the hashtag #viciouspink, the singer Josephine Warden (Jose) of Vicious Pink noticed it. I was thrilled that she simply liked the post.

Over time, our online friendship grew, and I eventually discovered that a new Vicious Pink vinyl, aptly named “Unexpected,” would be released in a limited edition by Minimal Wave Records on May 21, 2024.

From there, we connected, and I was fortunate enough to interview both Brian Moss and Jose Warden of Vicious Pink. We discussed their impact on the nightclub scene in the 80s, particularly within the LGBTQ community, as well as their future plans for music.

Q40: To jump right in, do you realize just how big of an impact your music has had in the gay community in the 80s and continues on to this day?

Jose: That is such a compliment, the music is always so much better in gay clubs! We started to realize very quickly that the gay crowd was behind us and as we started to play live shows and meet our audience, we knew that a lot of our support came from the gay community. I have always been a fervent supporter of LGBTQ rights and stand solidly at their side.

Your music stands out from the other high energy sounds back then. To friends and myself, it was also Jose’s vocals that helped make what was already forward-thinking music, into something that had a sense of sophistication and erotism. And people took notice, especially in the club scene. Is this something you recognized when first getting out there as well?

Jose: We knew we were different, and we knew that we wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but that was irrelevant, because we appealed to people like us. We were both great clubbers ourselves, so we were right in the midst of it. Good times.

To provide some history to readers. How did the two of you get together musically?

Brian: We met at an alternative night in Leeds 1979 at a pub called The Adelphi, where I was the DJ. We decided to start the band initially for a bit of fun. As we developed, we aimed for success in the clubs and alternative bars with DJ friendly mixes for night clubs, rather than radio friendly commercial hits. There was no internet then, the DJ’s and the night clubs were like the internet of the day, they got your sound out there.

Can you share the story behind the name “Vicious Pink”?

Jose: Me, Brian and Dave wrote some our favorite words down on pieces of paper, turned them upside down and shuffled them about. Then we each choose one of the pieces of paper. On my piece of paper, the word was Vicious, Dave’s was Pink and Brian’s was Phenomena. We rearranged them on the floor, to read, ‘Vicious Pink Phenomena’.

And you both also provided backing vocals for Soft Cell at one point? How did that come together?

Jose: One night, Brian and I had gone to a bar in the center of Leeds called Amnesia, to watch my friend, the fabulous performance artist Marc Almond, perform with his new band, Soft Cell, which he had formed with Dave.

I think Anni Hogan was the DJ that night, which was pretty cool as there weren’t many female DJs at the time. About five minutes before Soft Cell were due on- stage Marc asked if we would do some backing vocals for him. “Tonight?”’

I asked, “I don’t know any of the lyrics?” Unperturbed, Marc rushed to the bar, grabbed a pen and a white serviette on which he wrote in big, black, capital letters ‘MISERY, COMPLAINTS, SELF PITY, INJUSTICE. CHIPS ON MY SHOULDER, CHIPS ON MY SHOULDER.’

“Just follow me”, he said. And we did, all the way to New York, where three months later, in Media Sound Studios, Manhattan, I held onto the same serviette as we recorded, ‘Chips on My Shoulder’ and other songs for ‘Non- Stop Erotic Cabaret,’ Soft Cells debut album.

That’s amazing! What is your typical songwriting process like? Do you start with lyrics or music?

Brian: Usually, music first.

How do you approach production and the use of technology in your music?

Brian: When we started out there were no Music Technology courses, no Midi, it all had to be learned from scratch. That was probably a bonus in some ways, because I had to experiment with all the new equipment, so sometimes there would be a happy accident!

One example: I could sync my Roland BassLine TB303 to the Roland TR606 Drum Machine, via a 5-Pin Din lead, which looks like a Midi lead, but is wired differently. I could also trigger the Arpeggiator on my Roland Juno 60 by connecting a quarter inch jack lead from the TR606 to the Arpeggiator Clock-In on the Juno 60. Then program, for example a tom pattern in the desired rhythm, to send the pulse to trigger the Juno 60, then all 3 were in tempo sync.

This was used for ‘Fetish’, 8:15 To Nowhere and other songs. I also used this for live shows, so no need for tape backing tracks when in use.

I know you played in New York live at the Ritz in 1984. The 80s were such an individualistic and artistic time, especially in New York and London. Who and what were your influences then?

Brian: I loved Kraftwerk, YMO, DAF, Devo, Bowie, John Foxx and many more, but we always wanted to have our own sound, so we didn’t let the love of other artists creep into our music, plus the world already had those great artists.

Do you have any memorable stories from your various live performances?

Jose: We always took a 1960’s mannequin, who we called Lucy, to all our shows as a stage prop. I would dress her up in my clothing. We played The Crocs Club (later, Pink Toothbrush) in Rayleigh, Essex one night, and I dressed Lucy in a tiny black leather miniskirt and black lace top that I had worn the night before at a show in London. After the show, we said ‘hello’ to some people and had a few drinks as usual. When it came to do the loadout of our gear, we found Lucy, still onstage, naked, someone had actually stripped her and stolen my clothes!

How did it feel to achieve success in the 80s music scene?

Brian: We were amazed, because initially we really started Vicious Pink more as a project and mainly for fun. It’s a strange feeling at first, just to see people dancing in clubs to our music. I remember going to Area in Manhattan one night and the dance floor was rammed as people danced to, ‘Cccan’t You See’.

What inspired your hit singles like “Cccan’t You See” and “Fetish”?

Jose: Youth, lust, passion, sex, desire. We had just reached that age when these things are so much more important than anything else.

Do you realize just how big of a contribution you have made to the electronic music scene?

Brian: We realize it more now due to the feedback we get online and the global audience we can reach through the Internet.

Which of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

Brian: That’s a difficult one, it’s like asking which of the children you like best!

Jose: I’m proud of all of them but my favorite is, ‘Ask Me To Stay’. There is something about it that makes me want to sing along with it when I hear it.

For the audience reading this, what did you both do after you stopped recording in the 80s? People continued to love and desire your music, wanting more. Did it make you 

want to rethink things in how you produce music for the future?

Brian: I continued recording, writing and producing with Drug Free America into the late 90’s. Then I worked/collaborated with other bands and I didn’t stop writing music. 2003 – 2018 I worked touring with different bands around the UK and Europe doing TM, merch, driving and lots of other on-tour duties. Some of the bands: Bullet For My Valentine, Bring Me The Horizon, It Dies Today and many more and with different styles of music!

A few years ago people were quite excited and pleasantly surprised to see the elusive Jose back in view. It was like a firestorm on the internet about it all. What seemed to be the reasons to get back into the music industry, Jose? The fans are so excited you are back!

Jose: I stopped writing and performing completely, although I kept in touch with what was happening in the music world as I married a music lawyer, and a lot of friends were still in the business. I was only persuaded to come back to it by the wonderful Veronica Vasicka, founder of Minimal Wave records just before ‘West View’, the album she released two years ago.

How has the music industry changed since you first started, and how have you adapted to those changes?

Brian: Less CD sales, vinyl almost dying then making a comeback and now downloads, and streaming added to the mix. Yes, we’ve adapted very well to the internet age, it would have been nice to have it back when we started.

Your new LP, ‘Unexpected’, which I absolutely love, offers 10 tracks being released this week. How did you choose the songs for the LP?

Brian: I went through lots of reel to reel tapes and cassettes of our work, then together with the help of my DJ friends Jase Matthaus and Dee Shaw, did the digital rips at Jase’s studio. I then sent copies to Jose and between us we chose the 10 tracks.

My favorites are, So You Want to Love Me?, South Side, Not Your Kind of Girl, Night Drive. Each of the songs on the LP are unique and seem to display your musical experiences from over the years. Much of it I can see being played not only in the nightclubs but also as background in movies.

Brian: I can see that happening too. I hope so.

Are there any songs that stand out to you or are more personal on ‘Unexpected’ that you love?

Jose: It’s perpendicular for me because it takes me right back to the start of it all. It reminds me of our very early days when Brian, Dave and I used to just experiment with sounds and beats, before we even thought about introducing vocals.

What are the plans for Vicious Pink now?

Brian: New Vicious Pink remixes by Paul Dakeyne (Tin Man ‘18 Strings’ fame) to be released. New Vicious Pink songs in the pipeline and maybe some live shows.

What legacy do you hope Vicious Pink will leave in the music world?

Brian: I would like more people to discover us around our beautiful planet and that they continue dancing to and enjoying our music.

Jose: Dance!

To purchase Vicious Pink’s new vinyl LP, ‘Unexpected’, click here. Follow on social media here.

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