Home » An Introduction
From The Sound of Progress : “You sort of utilize the chaos, that we propagate and generate chaos. Not in a sort of punk-anarchy kind of way, but mental chaos. As we were saying before, we believe states of delirium and sort of self-induced madness, whether it be from LSD or schizophrenia, which you would, you know, invoke and make worse. I actually believe that you can strengthen yourself through those things by putting yourself through it…If anyone wanted to look for a message in our music, you know, in our overall sort of thing, it would be that you just have to go through individual visions, whether they be Hitler or Bosch, you know, Breughel, or something, but it’s only by plowing into yourself that I think you can get anything worthwhile. Turning away from outside influences, you spend so much energy shutting out and filtering everything, you know, records and TV and that…I can’t actually listen to the radio. It makes me physically ill…In a sense, we’re being tarred by our own brush in this condemnation, but, you know, try to have that, and have the ability and have the, the time to work in isolation, you know? Get on with what we really believe in…This is the first time we’ve stood in front of a video camera and said these things. We’ve had numerous opportunities to play huge festivals in Holland and in America. We’ve been offered to play the Palladium, which is like the biggest night club there, at the moment. We just say no; we get this perverse pleasure in turning these things down in a way. But we don’t, we don’t want to dilute what we think we have, by, sort of, either compromising it in a live situation, or becoming just another little marker in the marketplace, you know?” -John Balance, aged 24
Coil played four live shows in 1983, most of them in conjunction with Zos Kia, and before that, John Balance and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson played live in Psychic TV, but for the next thirteen years after this interview, Coil would not formally grace a live stage again. It was a veteran keyboardist who played with Julian Cope and Spiritualized, Thighpaulsandra, who would change history by convincing this duo to return to the stage…
“Persistence is All” – Kiefer Gorena
It’s May 2013. John Balance has been dead for almost 10 years, and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson for 3. I am a 16-years-old high school student, decently educated on good music, thanks mostly to my father and older brother. However, with the exception of Kraftwerk and The Velvet Underground, I am relatively unfamiliar with electronic, industrial, and experimental music.
One day, I am looking through Angus Maclise’s Wikipedia page, curious to learn more about him. In addition to being the original drummer for VU, to be quickly replaced by Moe Tucker before recording their first album, he was an interesting experimental musician in his own right. I’d heard snippets of his work, mostly The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, and was somewhat impressed. Reading further, I see that under the “Influence” section of his page, though most of his work remains unreleased even to this day, a band called Coil cites him as one of their biggest influences, going so far as to recite his poetry in some of their songs.
Now, as a teenager, I had a kind of musical tunnel-vision. Rather than be the sort of person with one song from each of 5,000 different artists on his IPod, I instead took a wholistic approach to my favorite bands, seeking out every official release, every bootleg, every live recording, etc. I could find. I had notably already done this with Joy Division, which was my then-favorite band, even managing to squeeze my way into the semi-private trading circles of the time. Can, Kraftwerk, New Order, Momus, and Nirvana soon got similar treatment. So it is very unlike me at this time – perhaps there was a blue moon, or lightning struck the same place twice nearby? – but I think, “What the hell?” and click on Coil’s Wikipedia page to learn more about them.
Their basic synopsis on Wikipedia sounds interesting enough, so I look up the first song on their first LP, “Ubu Noir” off of 1984’s Scatology on YouTube. My first impressions are all over the place. Admittedly, I am confused and disturbed, yet heavily intrigued – one can definitely hear Maclise, Lamonte Young, Tony Conrad, John Cale, etc. in there. What a first impression. Over the next few days, bit by bit, I check out more and more – “Tattooed Man” off of 2005’s The Ape of Naples, “The Anal Staircase” and “Ostia” off of 1987’s Horse Rotorvator – and soon become a fan. Those two albums I just named especially really hit it off for me, and I still consider them my co-favorite studio albums by Coil to date.
Along with them, I also remember the first live song I ever saw of Coil: “I Don’t Want to Be the One” from Colour Sound Oblivion DVD #7. My God, what a performance to start with! I knew nothing of their live history at the time, and though I wasn’t exactly a prude 16-year-old, it was certainly a shock to see two naked men painted gray spit blood all over themselves while the most high-pitched screeching song I had ever heard before play over a lunatic shouting “I don’t want to be the one!” at the top of his lungs. It was like jumping into an ice-cold pond – the chill just attacked my body like fire. A baptism of noise. Just like that, I was never the same. I was converted.
Again, this was May 2013. It was not easy being a brand new fan at the time. The “party” had long since been over. None of my friends or family had ever heard of Coil, and it has only been in the past few years that we have seen any affordable reissues of classic Coil albums or notable new archival releases. Occasionally, I’d splurge on a CD or two, but I was mostly dependent on illegal downloads and YouTube to delve into the band. Strangely, this added to the band’s mystique for me, like I was using a metal detector on a beach and happened to find buried treasure. As I heard more songs and learned more about them, I began to feel a deep, personal connection to John and Peter. It has grown more and more devastating with each passing day that I will never, ever be able to tell them just how precious they were as people and how much their music has changed my artistic sensibilities and life for the better. So, the mission ever since that initial spark of interest has been to pick up as many pieces they left behind as I can. Thankfully, this has not been as much of a fool’s errand as one might think.
It became clear pretty early on that the live recordings had the most appeal to me, for numerous reasons. One, I had already learned from Joy Division that live recordings offer such a unique, raw, untethered vision of a band compared to their studio recordings. Two, despite a career spanning over two decades, interviews of Coil continue to be somewhat rare and music videos were limited in number. Finally, the live material was relatively abundant, thanks to 2010’s Colour Sound Oblivion, which contained a whopping 14 concert films of the band. Back then, it was pretty much the only explicitly available source of Coil live anywhere – most of the other blips you could find were just lower-quality versions of the same material, mostly from high-generation VHS rips on YouTube. Of course, it took me some time to realize all of this. At first, I merely listened to CSO, as there were links on Brainwashed to archive.org where MP3s of the DVD audio were all available, before eventually watching more live footage proper. Even at this early juncture, though, it was clear to me that I found Coil’s live material to be their absolute best. I still remember seeing the live version of “Going Up” for the first time, then seeking out the studio version right after and being so moved by both of them. Absolutely unforgettable.
It took me a while, but imagine my elation, then, once I discovered several apocryphal live recordings on archive.org. “Oh, there are more than three live versions of ‘Ostia’? Fuck yeah!” I instantly became a happy collector, just as I had become with Joy Division.
Also around this time, I joined the main Coil fan group on Facebook (and later two others). What an overall wonderful community. Without them, I would have been utterly dejected and lost, struggling to find any sort of kinship with other people under Coil. Within this community, I have actually been able to speak to former Coil members and affiliates, receiving quite the education on Coil’s history in the process, along with having the fun geek-out conversations with other fans. I am eternally grateful for all that. It’s well worth it, even if there is the occasional odd spat among fans, or I sometimes have to put some arrogant, entitled old-timer in their place.
As life carried on, I sought more live recordings, rightly assuming that there was more out in the ether (hehe) than just what I was seeing. Eventually, I listened to all those available several times over, the nuances among all of them fascinating me, and of course, I craved more. However, some remaining Coil affiliates side more with John and Peter on the issue of sharing more music. The two of them were not necessarily perfectionists, but they were adamant about releasing only the best material and keeping everything else behind closed doors, which is partly why Colour Sound Oblivion included only 14 shows of almost 50 and was intended to cap off any official future Coil releases forever after (at least at first). As I’m sure you can tell, since you’re reading this here, I understand and respect this perspective, but I still disagree with it. I fully admit I am a completionist, and part of that comes with the realization that preservation is the absolute key to Coil’s legacy. Subjectively speaking, some people may always prefer the other, unused stuff over the officially released material, and with preservation and availability, future generations will have a greater chance at discovering Coil and falling in love with the music just as I did.
Around 2014, I shared these opinions with Ben S., my earliest associate in preserving Coil’s live recordings, and the two of us embarked on uncovering as many recordings as possible. While he has moved on to greener pastures since, I’m eternally grateful to him and proud of all that we managed to uncover, all the people we talked to who helped us in our quest. As the years go by, fortunately, it’s clear that many of the fans and affiliates alike have started coming around to our way of thinking. September-November 2016 were great months to be Coil fans, thanks to Massimo Villani and Pierce Wyss (the naked, bleeding, gray men) releasing their live archives out into the world. Danny Hyde showed the whole world just how complex and multi-faceted the Backwards sessions of the 90s really were. How about Thighpaulsandra’s own contributions since 2019?
In 2015, with the greater outpouring of live material and inspired by the Joy Division and Nirvana gigographies, I decided to create a Word document to keep track of it all. This was a document I was consistently updating and editing as new ephemera surfaced and memories were shared. Periodically, I would post an updated edition to the Coil Facebook pages to spread the word and ignite further interest. I believe I was on draft 13, maybe 14 or 15 before I figured there must be a better way to get all this information out there. I considered self-publishing a book but knew I probably wouldn’t be able to get the resources together. In the summer of 2017, I approached my friends Phil Barrington and Stefan Beiersmann about the possibly of making a website instead. I had and have no experience in this endeavor but knew that they did and wondered if they would help me. They most certainly did. Stefan donated the website space and Phil designed the website, organizing everything I had collected and written up to that point. It goes without saying that this website, Live Coil Archive, simply would not exist without the two of them, and I thank them every day for all that they’ve done for me.
LCA, while probably FAR more comprehensive than you might expect and/or believe to be necessary, is a continually evolving beast. The information gathered therein has been a labor of love for a few years now and I intend to keep it going for a few more years yet.
The general layout of each concert entry on this website is as follows (though is sometimes slightly flexible in both the titles and the order the sections appear on the page due to specific content):
Date, Title and Location
Advertisements, Backstage and Related Promo Material
Concert Recording Downloads (including download or streaming links)
Information Regarding Any Various Recordings
AUD – audience recording.
SBD – soundboard/desk recording.
AMT – amateur video, taken by an audience member, usually poorer quality (these recordings may be used on the EDIT sections, but have surfaced separately and stand on their own).
PRO – professionally shot video, but not included on Colour Sound Oblivion or surfaced separately.
EDIT – professional edit using one or multiple camera angles, amateur or professional; each edit will denote how many cameras were used to make it and whether the cameras were recorded by amateurs or professionals.
The “Quality” section regards the video quality with the video sources, not the sound quality. I feel it’s a little more difficult to judge video quality, and to me, the most important thing in any given circumstance is the sound, but nevertheless, most video sources have bad sound on their own, unless edited/synced with AUDs or SBDs. In the cases of EDITs, I’ll judge based on the best quality video source used for the rating.
“M” means master. “M0” denotes a digital transfer straight from the master tape, so “M1” is a first-generation copy, “M2” is a second-generation copy, and so on. Every official release is at least an M1 or M2, if not even more, because often the recordings went through some processing (track indexing, EQ’ing, mastering, mixing in the case of multitracks, etc.) before being put on a CD or DVD, then a rip of those CDs and DVDs results in another generation. Regarding Colour Sound Oblivion, it’s unknown what generations the tapes he used were in. Back before digital transfers became the norm, Coil would make tape copies. Don’t know how many master tapes Peter had access to in order to make the best possible digital transfers, which could then be edited as he saw fit.
Fans/bootleggers also made bootleg CDs out of their tape masters, which would then be passed around, ripped, and made into more CDs in an ongoing process. Sharing digital audio straight from the masters unfortunately did not catch on for the longest time, so the lineage of most of the audio recordings in this listing remains unclear unless otherwise stated. It is generally agreed upon that if a recording does not have a known lineage, it is lossy. Most digital audio files circulating are MP3, anyway.
Some recordings will have a letter denoting them, i.e. “#1a” and “#1b.” The extra listing will detail a remaster, alternate version/master, or rebroadcast of the same recording.
Each entry on the site includes download links at the bottom of the page, though you can find all the available recordings on this wonderful resource (please support the Archive.org organisation if you can). Please note that because I am not responsible for every archive.org upload, recording notation is variable:
Notes on Photographs
I am also a collector of images of Coil performing live, but did not include them all on this site for a couple of reasons (ie. for variety purposes and credit/watermark issues).
The vast amount of Coil live photographs I have do appear here on this website though, in exclusively remastered and curated form by Phil Barrington. Phil has this to say: “After working on it for the best part of 3 months I really hope the LCA website does justice to Kiefer’s studious COIL concert research. Regarding the visual content: this is the very first time all such historical COIL concert data has been amalgamated and curated into one central point – videos and photographs from every source possible. Times (and jpeg resolutions) change so, like a museum curator with a dustcloth, I wanted to simply brush away the flecks and spots from these important visual artifacts by a slight remastering polish. At times all we had were little more than thumbnails to illustrate COIL concert entries, so bear with us! Whilst it may not be possible to get it right the whole time for everyone, we have strived to credit all sources where known and, by using the detached white border LCA motif, we got around having to add a watermark ONTO other people’s work (which I didn’t want for obvious reasons). We simply didn’t have the time during site design/construction to systematically track down and contact the photographers who had already watermarked their shots over the years, so those important pictures were left off the site until we find you in due process. In any case, if you have any issue with any of your photographs being on this COIL site (‘by the community, for the community’ and all that jazz), please do email us. We wish no harm on our Live COIL farm.”
The following link will direct you to my collection of original photos. Please let me know if you wish to add to it or wish to receive credits for any pictures on this site:
Variously, Live Coil were:
Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson
Ossian Brown (Simon Norris)
Thank you to Thighpaulsandra, Massimo and Pierce of Black Sun Productions, Ben S., Claus Laufenburg, Danny McKernan, Andrew Lahman, Phil Barrington, Danny Hyde, Stefan Beiersmann, Greg Reason, and anyone else who ever contributed any informative remark to the Coil Facebook groups and/or to me personally. Not to mention, a BIG and hearty thank you to anyone who ever recorded a Coil concert in any form and shared it with the world!
Additional Concert Credits
Thighpaulsandra – the inspiration for Coil to play live from 1999 in the first place.
Ivan Pavlov – “loyal assistant, translator, and rather scary bodyguard”.
Sabine Waltz – Coil’s long-time concert booker, responsible for all their primary tours.
Andy Ray – Coil’s sound mixer/tour manager.
Tim Sutherland – Coil’s sound mixer.
David Cabaret – Coil’s costume designer for every live Coil phase except the “Black Antlers” phase.
Ian Johnstone – John’s dresses during ATP and “Black Antlers” and Peter and Thighpaulsandra’s curtain outfits.
Seb Shelton – manager of Thighpaulsandra, whom John first contacted in order to meet him.
Paul Smith – enquirer to the Royal Festival Hall and Barcelona’s Sonar Festival who found out both venues would jump at the chance to have Coil play live at them, which helped kick start Coil’s interest in playing live again.