When did TUNNELS OF ĀH come into being?
I'd been playing around with sounds and a direction for a while and it finally took shape at the back end of 2012.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Lost Corridors seems to be full of esoteric reference...
I think literature is the main inspiration whether that be ancient Buddhist sutras, magickal writings and over the past few years Gnostic writings such as the Nag Hamaddi library, Pistis Sophia and the Gospel of Judas. The depth of imagery in their language is a jolt to the senses at times. I'm particularly drawn to the anarchic influence of these writings and the unsettling presence on fundamental Christianity they had on their discovery. The Gospel of Judas is a fantastic read, Judas not as betrayer but as holder of the 'secret knowledge'. I've got a new track called 'Saint Peter Ha-Satana' which references this.
People have said the TUNNELS OF ĀH reminds them of soundtrack music though I have never approached it in this way but I do see it graphically when I write the songs. If I had to do a film soundtrack it would have to be a Powell and Pressburger reworking of 'A Canterbury Tale'. The Glueman is my favourite film character ever, along with Mick Travis.
Is your music influenced at all by your surroundings? Does psychogeography play a part in Tunnels of Ah?
Of course. I'm a true believer that magick is everywhere in everything and an imaginative engagement with your surroundings is a potent magickal faculty. I can look at cooling towers as I can look at Stonehenge. Both hold as much mystique to me, just as the subterranean environment of our cities does, hence one of the explanations of the title 'Lost Corridors'. However that is just one explanation for the title. I'm also referring to psychic corridors. The word corridor could easily be channel, portal, current etc. The name TUNNELS OF ĀH is a pun on 'The Tunnels of Set' from Kenneth Grant's brilliant 'Nightside of Eden' book. In the book he charts the shadow side of the Tree of Life. I believe we haven't even begun to research the potential of the mind. This was something that lead me to study and practice Buddhism full time during the 90's, post Head of David. Meditation is the best way to explore the tunnels, I went on some pretty startling 'psychedelic' rambles via meditation, not that that is the aim of meditation. Gods and demons, heavens and hells are real.
Tunnels is a predominantly electronic based project and a diff genre altogether to HOD , was this something you always wanted to do?
The electronics came before HOD. Eric (HOD guitarist) and myself were an industrial/experimental duo in the early 80's called Comicide. We were part of that small but industrious Birmingham scene along with Con-Dom, Family Patrol Group and Final etc. Playing with Con-Dom at 'Confessions of Faith' in November was great, it really evoked those glorious Cold War days of the 80's.
Have you had any other projects post Head of David?
I never stopped playing/experimenting but none have been released though I did play one solo gig a couple of years ago in Birmingham with my acoustic material. I recorded an album for Blast First Petite which never surfaced. This was on the strength of the track I recorded, 'Goodbye Darling', for the Alan Vega 70th Birthday series of 10" cd's on Blast First Petite along with Sun O))), Pan Sonic and Alan Vega.
What has the response been so far to the TUNNELS OF ĀH material and how have you found playing the material live?
The response has been very favourable, encouraging. I've played with TUNNELS OF ĀH live twice and both times I've thoroughly enjoyed it and it's something I look forward to doing more of. It's something that's still very new to me and want to develop further. I think the material works well in a live setting and seems to have the knack of unnerving quite a few people in the process. When I play live I'm still seeing those apocalyptic scenes in my head.
As a veteran of West Midlands underground music, are there any memorable tales you can tell us from the Birmingham Alternative music scene in the 1980's?Also What was it like working with Steve Albini in head of david?
My best memories are the aforementioned industrial times with Con-Dom playing Dudley Eve Hill Afro-Carribean Centre and the Communist Star Club in B'ham and the crypt of Eve Hill Church. All these were arranged by Mike Dando, he was very enterprising and persuasive. These gigs really felt important, as if we were some kind of terror cell unleashing ourselves on the world. Then of course there was the Mermaid. That's where HOD signed to Blast First in one of the back rooms. But as HoD we didn't play B'ham too often, in fact we didn't play anywhere too often. As for Steve Albini, he was easily one of the better people I met during that time. I've got quite a few stories about him. The best being, I suppose,was when I suffered very bad heat stroke in Chicago one summer where I'd collapsed in downtown Chicago and woke up in Alibini's bed. I eventually woke up alone in the house not knowing where I was. I opened the bedroom door to be faced with a whiteboard with a quote written on it by Albini, which was some literary reference I can't remember, but to paraphrase it read " you English pussy". There are more but that's the one that sticks in my mind, that's typical Albini. He then went on to diagnose my heat stroke as serious heart disease. Albini has this extreme reputation but in my experience those with the more extreme reputations such as Foetus, Swans, Gibby Haynes, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra are the most comfortable and easy going people, they have nothing to prove. I do still bear the scars of first meeting Lydia Lunch though in a dressing room at ULU where she trapped me and shouted in my face, 'So, you wanna fuck me up the ass, uh'.
Moving back to the present ,are there any artists you currently admire?
I hear a lot of stuff but I rarely like anything till it's been around for about 30 years.
What are you currently working on and what are your plans for the future?
I'm always working on new material and am currently putting together a second album for Cold Spring. I work quickly but am trying to take my time, I want a good selection of material to choose from when it comes to release.
Ex-Head of David frontman Stephen Burroughs spoke to us about his new project TUNNELS OF AH and the occult aspects underpinning the fantastic Lost Corridors Album released on COLD SPRING last year...
LOST CORRIDORS is available to buy direct from
Cold Spring here: