Oldschool Sunday: NITZER EBB

NITZER EBB Circa 1988
Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway

British electronic/industrial entity NITZER EBB is a pioneering musical project that was creating popular EBM (Electronic Body Music) long before the term and genre even existed.

Formed in 1982, by three school chums –  Vaughan “Bon” Harris (programming, synthesizers, drums, vocals), Douglas McCarthy (vocals), and David Gooday (drums) – the group’s first recorded offering arrived with the 1983 ‘Basic Pain Procedure’ demo.

Though the demo made headway for NITZER EBB, they would make more serious marks in 1985, after meeting producer Phil Harding. He produced the band’s first intrusion into the public music realm with that year’s “Isn’t It Funny How Your Body Works?” single. Harding also helped the band set up their own label, Power Of Voice Communications.

By this time, NITZER EBB was garnering growing recognition for their manic, uptempo, electronic-based music that emanated more aggressive, punk type qualities. Three more singles on their own label, “Warsaw Ghetto” (1985), “Warsaw Ghetto Remixes” (1986), and “Let Your Body Learn” (1986), helped ratchet up their presence and fueled their signing to Mute Records in 1986.

NITZER EBB would experience their breakthrough with 1987’s ‘That Total Age’ album release and a little help from their friends and label mates, Depeche Mode. The band took NITZER EBB out as their opening act on the European leg of the highly successful Music For The Masses Tour in 1987.

The following year would see changes taking place within NITZER EBB, as David Gooday left after the Depeche Mode tour. Now a duo, the band recorded 1989’s ‘Belief’ with producer Mark “Flood” Ellis, while recruiting Julian Beeston to assist them on their own world tour. Beeston would become a contributing element to NITZER EBB from there on, both onstage and off.

The Nineties saw NITZER EBB continue to experiment with their music, they would explore differing styles, incorporate more instruments, and regularly utilize numerous collaborators within the band. Always with Harris and McCarthy at their core, NITZER EBB issued a trio of albums during this period: 1990’s ‘Showtime’, 1991’s ‘Ebbhead’ and 1995’s ‘Big Hit’.

However, ‘Big Hit’ would be the last album release from the band for almost 15 years. A lengthy absence during which McCarthy worked with Depeche Mode’s Alan Wilder in Recoil, as well as Fixmer/McCarthy with French electronic producer Terence Fixmer. Bon Harris relocated to Los Angeles and found his own success as a producer, as well as a member of such acts as 13MG and Maven.

2007 would see a reactivation of NITZER EBB, as the band began playing select shows and large music festivals, debuting at least two new songs at the time, “Once You Say” and “Payroll“. Both songs would be included on NITZER EBB‘s 2010 studio album ‘Industrial Complex’ for Major Records, which was the band’s first album after leaving Mute Records, and their 2006 retrospective on the band, ‘Body Of Work’.

Two more releases for Major Records would follow, ‘In Order’ (2010) and the Join In The Rhythm Machines EP in 2011. Joining McCarthy and Harris as drummer on the albums was Jason Payne, who’d also returned to NITZER EBB after previously playing drums with them between 1992 – 1995.

This week brought news from the NITZER EBB camp. An extensive career-spanning vinyl anthology of the band’s catalog Nitzer Ebb 1982-2010: The Box Setis imminent, all remastered and packed with rarities, bonuses, and more.

Two different versions ofNitzer Ebb 1982-2010: The Box Setwill arrive on October 5th from Pylon Records. Each set will include several bonus tracks and hard-to-find 12” mixes, expanded album artwork, never-before-seen content, a career chronology, and a book of liner notes by NITZER EBB’s co-founders, Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris.

The 10-LP version includes black vinyl double-disc editions of ‘That Total Age’, ‘Belief’, ‘Showtime’, ‘Ebbhead’, and ‘Big Hit’, with space for collectors to include more recent vinyl pressings of their self-released début ‘Basic Pain Procedure’ and their 2010 album ‘Industrial Complex’.

The 11-LP limited edition finds the five albums on colored vinyl, as well as ‘Basic Pain Procedure’ on splatter-colored vinyl, an exclusive to Pylon Records, as they are the sole online source for the limited edition set of colored vinyl.

You can find a detailed track-list for this incredible collector’s set HERE, while pre-order for both editions is available HERE.

Closing on a related note, NITZER EBB has announced they will be performing at the Amphi Festival [info] in Cologne, Germany on July 20, 2019. The special show will see Vaughan “Bon” Harris and Douglas McCarthy reuniting live with original members David Gooday and Simon Granger for the first time in decades.

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