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With their unconventional electronic music, they left their permanent imprint on early and mid 80s, their influence reached from UK to North America, where they brought acts such as Skinny Puppy or Nine Inch Nails on the right musical track: Portion Control are undoubtedly one of the most important pioneers of EBM and Industrial. After their temporary break-up in 1987, John Whybrew and Dean Piavanni reunited in 2002 and, since then, they have been playing live regularly and released quite a few new records, with which they pushed forward into unexplored musical terrain once more. The duo has never been quite tangible, even though – VOLT was able to grasp them for an interview after their amazing performance at Nocturnal Culture Night 2019 in Deutzen, Germany.


You just played your gig – the audience was pretty large. How was it for you?
Dean Piavanni: Yeah, it was good. When it’s outside it always feels a bit kind of calm to start.

Maybe because of the rain.
D: Yes. But it was a good crowd, I enjoyed it.

Did you realise that Eskil of Covenant was partying in front row?
D: I didn’t realise it was him cause I haven’t seen him for a long time. But I just spoke to him.
John Whybrew: He once visited us in London back then.
D: Yeah. That was about 1985 or something like that, he came to visit us.
J: A tiny young chap turned up.

portion control live alexander jung 1
And why did he visit you?
J: We had a studio, at home, that was in South London, in Kennington. We used to have our toys and we lived there. So occasionally people that were all new as an artist would come just to visit. And one day this guy turned up.
D: This was before the internet. We used to have something like an information service with postings and stuff. We sent all by post: news, pictures, posters. And Eskil was a member.

“We didn’t know Depeche Mode at all because they were really poppy.” John Whybrew


While we are on the subject of the past: you supported Depeche Mode during their Some Great Reward tour in the UK in 1984. What do you remember from that era?
D: It was alright. It gave us some different kind of audience as well that got to know us.
J: We were more friendly really with the manager, Daniel Miller. We didn’t know Depeche Mode before at all because they were really poppy.
D: At that time.
J: And we came from an industrial electronic background. But Daniel Miller is keen on both sides. So he invited us to do the tour. That’s how we got on it. But I am not sure that our music was quite suited cause there were a lot of parents who were bringing their children – we’ve never experienced that before. Our normal audience is a fairly hardcore industrial one.
D: Our music is not necessarily for children. It is scary for some of the small ones. At one point, one of the parents must have said that one of our images was distressing a child. Normally, when we play a venue, they are venues for 18+, because obviously these are real clubs and that kind of things. While this was just a normal venue where children could go. It was interesting, wasn’t it?
J: Yeah.

As you mentioned, you’re from an industrial background, but at the same time, you’re pioneers of melting Techno and Industrial – which is pretty much en vogue right now, decades later, for example in Berlin. Are you keeping track with what is happening in this scene right now?
D: I’ve seen things in the past, but I don’t really know what’s happening there right now. And the techno scene is alien to us. But we’re playing in Berlin at the end of this month.

At the Schlagstrom Festival on 28th of September.
J: Yes. But that’s more industrial, more independent. I think our problem slightly was that we were a bit too early doing it. We started it before it really kicked in.

portion control live alexander jung 2
You’d really say this was a problem in retrospect? It’s also always said – in a slightly negative way – that Front 242, for example, were ahead of their times but, finally, this was a good thing and produced their iconic status – and the same applies to Portion Control. How do you evaluate that from today’s view?
J: I don’t know that we’re particularly bothered by being sort of well-known. We don’t do Portion Control to sort of make money, it’s not living for us, it never has been. So we can do what we want. We always keep on the experimental, sort of dark ambient side as well as sort of Techno and EBMmy stuff.

Pure Form, your last record, was released in 2012. So what about a new album?
D: We’ve got material but we just need to get it finished. I think part of the problem is that physical products are not so important now. I know that people still buy but it is not like it was before.
J: Interestingly, about half of the set tonight, or at least a third, was new material. So it was a chance to practise it and for Dean to work on his vocals. Most of the new material got down well.

Most of the audience didn’t even realise that it’s new material and kept on partying …
J: Yeah, you know when they know the tracks, obviously, but the new stuff fits in, even though it is a bit more ambient, a bit more dark and unstructured.

“In England it’s not good for music.” Dean Piavanni


What’s the scene like in the UK right now? Are you playing a lot of gigs there, for example London?
D: London is not good. For anything like this it is not good. There is not a lot of interest in London, for anyone.
J: No, there are no fix clubs or anything anymore. It’s always been a difficult place.
D: While one bands plays, let’s say, five concerts in Germany, they play one or two in the UK, because it’s not the audience there. When we started originally, there was more interest, because of the other bands that were around, doing electronic stuff. But now it’s less.
J: There were more artsy venues. That just doesn’t happen now.
D: In Germany and Scandinavia, generally in Europe, there’s a lot more of arts kind of venues. In England it’s not good for music.

And what are you going to do tonight before you’ll leave the festival?
D: Laibach is playing now. I’ll try to watch them.


Don't miss: Portion Control, Meta Meat, MS Gentur, Gerechtigkeits Liga, Mortaja and more live @ Schlagstrom, 28.09.2019 Berlin, Bi Nuu

www.facebook.com/PortionControlamazon button
Live photos: Alexander Jung





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