commercial break. If you need car insurance without having to
pay a deposit try netfinity3.com for a action cheap price comparison! There, that disn't take long did it.
Ian, Martyn and Adi now set about the business of creating pop
music using only electronic instruments - a very common practice
nowadays, but virtually unheard of in 1977. At that time, only
a few artists, such as German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk,
were daring to make pop music this way; most purely electronic
music was being made by avant-garde artists with little interest
in taking the form into the mainstream.
the artists with pop backgrounds then experimenting with electronic
sounds (e.g. David Bowie, Brian Eno, et cetera) tended to either
shy away from using synthesizers for pop music or would combine
these sounds with traditional rock guitars and percussion. Most
of 1977's electronic pop would emerge from the disco scene;
for instance, Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder's ground-breaking
classic I Feel Love.
sounds were a world away from the new wave of punk bands then
sweeping Britain, armed with a handful of barely-learned guitar
chords and a do-it-yourself attitude born out of exasperation
with stagnant rock dinosaurs such as Pink Floyd and Yes.
"When punk came along, The Sex Pistols played in Sheffield
with The Clash, but I didn't go. To be honest, we thought rock
was a bit 'old hat'. We had our own thing going in Sheffield
and considered ourselves completely separate from London. We
were operating at the quirky end of disco, something more futuristic.
punk was the liberating influence that allowed us to do what
we wanted to do."
they were later keen to distance themselves from Kraftwerk,
the group were certainly impressed by their classic track Trans-Europe
Express, which Martyn now admits, "transformed my life.
I went up to Richard Kirk's house and he was having this big
dub-plate party in the back garden on a steamy night in Sheffield
in the middle of summer. He put on Trans-Europe Express
and I'd never heard anything like it in my life. I was transfixed."
no formal musical training, the group opted to use affordable
and easily-mastered synthesizers rather than guitars. As Martyn
commented at the time, the guitar "required you to soak
your fingers in alcohol to stop them bleeding. We're not into
things like that." Besides, given their interests and location,
the group's sound made perfect sense in many ways.
Martyn: "I was always into science fiction, and... I think,
to a certain extent, in Sheffield, you're surrounded by strange
sounds, with the steel works all the time, you know? You're
surrounded by music concrete, the drop forges hammering
away at night. I mean, literally, it was a natural environment
for us - they sounded like very natural sounds... not alien
at all. The sound of machinery is what we grew up with."
Around this time, The Future teamed up with Cabaret Voltaire,
2.3's drummer Haydn Boyes-Weston and Glenn Gregory to support
Mancunian punk band The Drones at Psalter Lane art college.
Calling themselves VD K & The Studs, they played mainly
cover versions, such as Lou Reed's Vicious and Iggy &
The Stooges' Cock In My Pocket, plus a number entitled
The Drones Want To Come On Now. Haydn, being a butcher
at the time, thoughtfully splattered the audience with pigs
ears. The performance was recorded, though it has yet to be
released in any form.
"We were terrible, but The Drones were one of the worst
bands we'd ever heard. We knew we had more musical talent than
them, and suddenly everything seemed possible."
Future began recording demos in a semi-professional studio in
the house of a local recording engineer, as there were no other
affordable studios in the area. Martyn and Ian played their
synthesizers, while Adi made use of the tape collection he was
steadily amassing. Ian: "Adi had been to art school and
he introduced me to a lot of modern art stuff - Man Ray, Duchamp,
group developed a computer system for the production of lyrics
- CARLOS (Cyclic And Random Lyric Organisation System). Words
and phrases would be fed into the system and assembled at random
into sentences by the computer, in the manner of a fruit machine.
Similar 'cut-up' experiments had been executed by artists such
as Brian Eno and David Bowie (who in turn had been influenced
by the experiments of William Burroughs), using words written
on small cards, but The Future took it a step further by using
the computer to generate lyrics.
the experiment was short-lived (the group eventually lost faith
in the system as it "had a tendency to make things over-staccato"),
they did have some success when using CARLOS to write both Blank
Clocks and a song about former Stooges guitarist James Williamson.
Ian: "The first twelve phrases that came up were quite good."
Martyn: "You come up with some amazing lyrics. It's a very interesting
process, a very logical extension of mathematics."
rented some rooms in a disused factory at 21b Devonshire Lane,
where all The Future set up a base for their equipment. Adi:
"It became a social focus, a location of many wild parties
and a drug experimentation zone."
long, they had recorded eight compositions and decided to contact
the major record companies in London. Keen to make an impression,
they sent the companies notification of their forthcoming day
trip to London, suggesting that interested parties should make
appointments to meet with the group on that day. Many companies
were presumably intrigued by the fact that this communication
was issued as a computer print-out and arranged meetings with
The Future, despite not yet having heard any of their music.
the group's day in London did not go well; for a start, Adi
had compiled a selection of their recordings onto two tracks
of a four-track tape reel, and when this tape was played on
the record companies' four-track tape machines, they heard not
only The Future's demos, but also the music of other artists
which Adi had recorded on the remaining two tracks of the tape.
This resulted in The Future's music having to compete with the
likes of Elvis Presley being simultaneously played backwards.
this mistake could eventually be rectified in most cases, many
of the record company staff suspected the group were simply
playing a joke on them, and The Future were physically ejected
by security guards from several of the offices they visited.
Only Chris Blackwell, head of Island Records, had any encouraging
words for the trio; all the other A&R men who would actually
listen to the group's music were generally forty-somethings
trying to appear 'hip' in the latest punk clothing, with no
understanding of what the group were trying to do.
"They all thought we were total crap. All they said was
'Keep in touch, boys'."
Blackwell had advised them that they should use their innovative
sounds in rather more traditional song-oriented compositions.
Martyn and Ian decided that this wasn't really going to work
with Adi as a 'singer' as he was more interested in using his
voice as a 'weapon' than conventional melody. They decided to
eject him from The Future by temporarily moving all their equipment
out of their Devonshire Lane base and leaving a note on the
door for Adi, breaking contact with him until his initial anger
Adi went on to form Clock DVA, while Martyn and Ian carried
on as a duo for a short while, recording instrumentals such
Ian: "And then we thought 'No, we really do need a vocalist'"...