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Interview with Derek Thompson of Hoodlum Priest - conducted via e-mail - 7/1/98

Jester: Why was there such a long time period between the release of "Heart of Darkness" and the new album?

Derek: I have had no record deal for Hoodlum, other than for one-off independent releases. Since "Heart of Darkness" I have been working on other projects such as Black Radio for which we recorded one album and split up before it was released with all the interesting work having been completed. Surfers for Satan was another project, like the Beach Boys, had they existed on a diet of samplers and ice-cold British surf. Finally, there is Technietzsche which exists to give uncultured journalists spelling headaches if nothing else. Also, I am a touch slack when not asked to make records.

Jester: Hoodlum Priest has always used film samples as a core portion of their music and message. Why is that?

Derek: In the main I like to work alone and this method allows me to work lyrical themes into compositions that would not suit a singer. This is why when I do work with vocalists for Hoodlum. They tend to be some variant of rapper. There is also an inherent drama in speech samples that suit the soundtrack nature of many of the tracks. It also carries the sampling principle into films, something I would like to collaborate on with like-minded visual samplists.

Jester: My favorite sample on the new record is from 'Addicts'. "...drugs not yet synthesized..." Where is that from?

Derek: If it wasn't illegal to do so, that sample would come from Burroughs's and Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch".

Jester: The new album utilizes an incredibly diverse selection of musical elements, singing styles, and instruments. How are you able to meld all the disparate elements into something with and undeniable groove?

Derek: There is no particular technique or ethos at work here, my combinations are mostly instinctive. I love the random in all art as it frees the artist from using, unwittingly or not, a cliche. I try to focus my energy on using imagination, not technique, lateral thinking, aleatoricism and the subconscious. If there is one underlying groove influence, it would be Hip-Hop.

Jester: Is "Heart of Darkness" still available? How could someone from North America acquire the CD?

Derek: I don't think it is available, I would be interested to hear otherwise. I am hoping to set up a downloading facility for my catalogue and new work so I could re-record H.O.D to facilitate those interested. I will let you know about progress here.

Jester: Are you involved with any other musical project besides Hoodlum Priest?

Derek: As I mentioned before, I will be working on material for Surfers for Satan, possibly on Iris Light, Technietzsche, a new project called Monobloc, possibly some work with Cliff of Sly Diva and a few more things too young to mention.

Jester: Did the Ambient City thing in Helsinki ever pan out?

Derek: Yes, I recorded an hour of material for it, of which 'Gas', on the current album, was one piece.

Jester: After Sevier left the band, how did you meet up with Mary Magdelyte?

Derek: We met socially in our capacity of men about in Camden. We had a mutual friend in Howard Gray who co-produced "Heart of Darkness" and was an Apollo 440 member. Having similar tastes we decided to fit a few recording sessions between cocktails.

Jester: How did you first get involved with writing and composing music?

Derek: I started working on my own material seriously in 1989. My first writing credits were with SPK some years previously.

Jester: What material did you write with SPK?

Derek: I wrote about an albums worth of material but the only commercial release was "Metal Dance" & "Will To Power", a single we recorded for Desire in 1983. By the time we had finished touring this material, the single had sold quite a bit and gave us lots of media coverage. The group founder, Graeme Revell, then wanted to make a very commercial sounding album which I did not. I left the group and Graeme made the album, end of chapter.

Jester: Which University did you just graduate from? What is your degree?

Derek: UCE. with a Bachelors in Educational Music. I may start a PhD in composition this Autumn.

Jester: Have you ever had any type of formal musical training?

Derek: Not really. I was taught Irish Traditional music as a child. My family is from Mayo, west of Ireland. After this I was shown three chords on the guitar which is as much as anyone should need for a career in music. I am self-taught on guitar and bass but am currently taking tabla, (Indian drums) lessons. Having said that, I took a music degree two years ago just out of interest.

Jester: How did Hoodlum Priest initially form?

Derek: I started writing the first album in 1989 and having done three very film influenced pieces, I wanted to use a vocalist, primarily a rapper, but someone who was a product of London not Los Angeles. I was taken to see Sevier perform at a club in Soho and thought he was quite unique. He had some reservations about working with me at first as he was very church oriented. His background took a strange path through Christianity and various evangelical faiths, one of which turned out to be a front for voodoo worship. This combination set up a classic group tension right from the start, which was creative and at times a pain in the arse.

Jester: Has Hoodlum Priest ever performed live? What do your live shows look like?

Derek: Hoodlum live shows are very rare. We debuted at a film premiere in a church, played the Tegen Tonen festival in Amsterdam, in a former church, press description-like Deathrace 2000 on stage, and a benefit gig for Surfers Against Sewage in Newquay at a club called Lucifer's during the British surf championship with a line-up that has become the live arm of Apollo 440. How I would like it to look is not possible without financial backing, so live performances will I think remain rare.

Jester: Do you have a day job outside of your music? If so, what is it?

Derek: No, I retired at 22 as any civilized gentleman should.

Jester: How does your newlywed wife feel about your interests in music?

Derek: She describes much of what I do as a "dirge" but is very supportive.

Jester: What is your favorite track of the new album? Why that track?

Derek: If I have a favorite track it will change over time. I don't tend to listen to my records very often after completion, but initially I am enjoying the whole album as one experience. Structurally, I like 'You Know Who I Am', 'Gas' and 'We Walk The Earth' for the way in which they mutate in an unpredictable way. Too much so called alternative music is entirely predictable and is the sound of people chasing a share of a particular market rather than exploring boundaries.

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