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Alien Sex Fiend

One of the many new breed goth-rock acts to surface as “regulars” from London’s Batcave nightclub in 1982 (alongside The SPECIMEN and SEX GANG CHILDREN), ALIEN SEX FIEND were the living “glam-child” abortion of ALICE COOPER, The DAMNED and BAUHAUS – er… so to speak. A macabre musical Molotov cocktail of punk, glam and industrial rock, protagonist preacher Nik Fiend/Nick Wade (vocals), his wife Mrs. Fiend/Christine Wade (synths/keys), Yaxi Highrizer/David James (guitar) and Johnnie “Ha-Ha” Freshwater (drums), had certainly the shock factor at a time when electro-pop ruled the airwaves.
Since 1975, Nik e-Wade had fronted a number of no-hope punk outfits around the Islington, Greater London area, but only Demon Preacher managed to release records; neither the short-lived Earwigs nor Mr. & Mrs. Demeanor came close. Enlisting the help of guitarist Tony Ward, bassist Camilla Branson and drummer Gerry Healy, the `Royal Northern’ EP was unleashed in 1978, while later in the year (roping in Joe Schmo for Ward, and Max Splodge/Martin Everest for Healy), `Little Miss Perfect’ took its place among the many 7-inch 45s on the local Small Wonder imprint.
For two unceremonious years, Nik tried in vain to create something to rival his North London rivals, but only one indie single as The Demons: `Action By Example’ (b/w `I Wish I Woz A Dog’), found solace among the ashes of the punk movement; his band at the time (note that Max had moved on to SPLODGENESSABOUNDS) comprised Dave Shark and Jim Bryson (guitars), Stevie Vincent (bass) and Kim Barti (drums); Bryson would later join The DARK.
Complete with thick ghoulish make-up and a frightening hair-do, Nik led the theatrical ALIEN SEX FIEND out of the depths of the infamous “Batcave” and practiced what they preached as devotees of the rock-god ALICE COOPER. Cabaret goth or just apocalyptic punks waiting for a brain transplant, two limited-edition cassettes struck a chord with A&R geezers eager to find the next big thing; unofficial demos “Alien Sex Fiend” (1982) and the half-studio/half-live “The Lewd The Mad The Ugly And Old Nick” (1983) scary, but not totally insane. By the time of the latter set, ASF had become a quartet with the aforesaid added attraction of Nik’s wife Christine.
Carving out a deal with Cherry Red subsidiary Anagram, the ‘Fiend released two singles, `Ignore The Machine’ (significant in its “Sun Arise” Rolf Harris-to-ALICE COOPER intro) and `Lips Can’t Go’ (interpolating “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”); both highlights of their debut set, WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BRAIN? (1983) {*7}. Demented and murky at times (from The CRAMPS-like `Wild Women’ to the dramatic `New Christian Music’ and JOY DIVISION-beat-en `I Am A Product’), the record was built on tension and hostility.
An almost permanent fixture in the indie charts from then on, 1984’s ACID BATH {*5} was a tad too derivative of the goth genre, `In God We Trust (In Cars We Rust?)’, `Dead And Re-Buried’ and the age-long `E.S.T. (Trip To The Moon)’, almost BAUHAUS or VIRGIN PRUNES cold. No matter the response in Old Blighty, ALIEN SEX FIEND had become big in Japan, their follow-on concert set LIQUID HEAD IN TOKYO (1985) {*5} documenting this surprise phenomenon.
In the meantime, studio album number three, MAXIMUM SECURITY (1985) {*6} – taken from the long-winded attendant single, `I’m Doing Time In A Maximum Security Twilight Home’ – was Fiend and Co’s only chart entry, albeit at a lowly No.100! The splashes of face make-up had gone, so had Freshwater, his drums substituted by an industrial, PiL-meets-Krautrock sound. The remaining trio were finally offered the honour of supporting their schlock-rocker idol ALICE COOPER on his 1986 “Nightmare Returns” tour.
Rediscovering their punk roots, “IT” THE ALBUM (1986) {*7} was, as Trouser Press expertly put it: “the group’s most creative, mind-expanding undertaking”. Possibly as close as the group will ever get to any DAMNED or STOOGES sets (via SUICIDE), `Smells Like…’ (shit, rather than any “teen spirit”) and the 13-minute, JIMI HENDRIX-less `Manic Depression’ were worth the admission price alone.
Maintaining `The Impossible Mission’ of death-rock-vs-death-disco, as suggested in the title of the single from 1987’s HERE CUM GERMS {*4}, ALIEN SEX FIEND were often the ridiculed as the jokers in the pack, while SISTERS OF MERCY and The MISSION were growing stronger within the buoyant goth movement. Cockney deject, Alien Nik was certainly the poor man’s CRAMPS for the appropriately-titled `My Brain Is In The Cupboard – Above The Kitchen Sink’. And just what was the cost of royalty payments for using “Twisting The Night Away’ on the un-SAM COOKE-like track `Death’ or The BIRTHDAY PARTY’s “Junkyard” for follow-on track `Boots On!’?
Yaxi was the next to depart, leaving the husband-and-wife team to record a one-off single, `Where Are Batman And Robin’, as The Dynamic Duo. ALIEN SEX FIEND returned to terrorize self-respecting indie fans with ANOTHER PLANET (1988) {*6}, a record overblown with sampling and electronics. Rife with tongue-in-cheek humour and the odd bit of innuendo, `Instant Karma Sutra’ (a Jane Birkin-like a take on a LENNON single) seemed rather tame in the midst of the MINISTRY-esque `Sample My Sausage’ (an ode to his butcher no doubt).
Reverting to the meat-n-two-veg quartet formula for more than just live purposes, the concert double-LP TOO MUCH ACID? (1989) {*6} rounded up all their devil-ish best tunes (including a 10-minute cover of RED CRAYOLA’s `Hurricane Fighter Plane’ – an earlier single), although their shift to more electronically-based territory ALIENated some of their more traditional fans. Still, with Rat Fink Jnr. (aka Andy Wilson) on drums and guitar (ex-Turnpike Cruisers) and Simon “Doc” Milton on keyboards and guitar, their blend of gloom-goth continued unabated on CURSE (1990) {*5}. Serving up the krautrock-lengthed `Katch 22’ semi-symphony (all 12 minutes of it!), followed by another 9 on the clock for `Now I’m Feeling Zombiefied’, the long drag to the spacy `Mad Daddy Drives A U.F.O.’ (a partial re-make of a CRAMPS song) was hardly worth the wait.
OPEN HEAD SURGERY (1992) {*6} and the live THE ALTERED STATES OF AMERICA (1993) {*5} had limited appeal outside the band’s cult following. Taking on something akin to HAWKWIND locked in a studio with D.A.F., the former record stepped up the pace again; `Coma’, `Clockwork Banana Banana-Moon’ and the eponymous `Alien Sex Fiend’, were indeed tracks of mass distraction.
With a nation now nuts on ambient/techno and leaving behind Milton and Rat Fink (the latter would form United States Of Mind, among other groups), the shape of things to come down Fiend’s way was INFERNO: THE ODYSSEY CONTINUES (1994) {*5}, a CD-ROM video-game/soundtrack that might well’ve been mistaken for a TANGERINE DREAM OST. Despite its many attendant formats, the extended-single approach guaranteed “Pandora’s Box” enthusiasts with a view to ear the ASF cut of PINK FLOYD’s `Echoes’ – The ORB they were not. Down the years, Fiend and Co covered some tasty pieces, namely ALICE COOPER’s `School’s Out’, HAWKWIND’s `Silver Machine’, The ROLLING STONES’ `Satisfaction’ and Ravel’s `Planet 2’.
In order to release their own recordings, 13th Moon Records unveiled ALIEN SEX FIEND’s next piece of abstract electronica, NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS (1997) {*5}. Roping in third member Gonzo “Dave” Dearnley (guitar), one of its highlights had to be the dark and drudgeful KILLING JOKE-meets-KORN extended single `On A Mission’, although `Evolution’ was of the rave-age.
After a 7-year itch in which the pioneers of goth-punk took stock, INFORMATION OVERLOAD (2004) {*6} – another to feature the sleeve paintwork of Nik – launched another fusion of the surreal and the subliminal. Industrial hip-hop that abducted the para-abnormal, stretching it out beyond its limitations, one could imagine SUICIDE for the menacing `Baby’, THROBBING GRISTLE for `Kiss Arse’ and The DOORS (well, it was their song) for the bouncy `Five To One’.
If no one here was to get out alive, it certainly looked as if ALIEN SEX FIEND were dead in the water – too many “Acid Baths”, maybe. Then, just as it was safe to swim with the sharks once again, the coffin was cranked open and blood was spilt for umpteenth set, DEATH TRIP (2010) {*6}. On a mission to resurrect Halloween on Friday the 13th by way of Creepshow, the grimly Mr. & Mrs. Fiend-ish grossed-out on cinematic titles `Land Of The Living Dead’, `The Hills Have Eyes’, `Erazerdrone’ and Nik’s tribute to the Daleks, `Oops! Wrong Planet’. Time for another? Who knows.
© MC Strong 1997-2003/GRD series // rev-up MCS Mar2015

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