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 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, in our overall sort of thing, it would be that you just have to go through individual visions, whether they be Hitler or Bosch, 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, 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 try to have that, and have the ability and have 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 want to dilute what we think we have, by 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, mostly in conjunction with Zos Kia, and before that, John Balance and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson briefly played together 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 from Julian Cope’s band and Spiritualized, Thighpaulsandra, who would change history by convincing this duo to return Coil to the stage…
“Persistence is All” – Kiefer Gorena
May 2013. John Balance has been dead for almost 10 years, and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson for 3. I am a 16-year-old American high school student, decently educated in 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 curiously looking through Angus Maclise’s Wikipedia page. In addition to being the original drummer for VU, to be quickly replaced by Maureen “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.
By this point in my life, I had a kind of musical tunnel-vision. Teenagers are often close-minded, aren’t they? Rather than be the sort of person with one song from 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 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” from 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. A memorable moment, to be sure. Over the next few days, 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 immediately clicked with me, and I still consider them my co-favorite studio albums by Coil to date.
Along with these random tracks, 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 approach or sensibilities 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 screaming “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 instantly converted.
Again, this was May 2013. It was not easy being a brand new fan at the time. The Coil “party” had long since been over. None of my friends or family had ever heard of Coil, and it has only been in the late 2010s that we have seen any affordable reissues of classic Coil albums or notable new archival releases. Occasionally, I’d splurge on an original CD or two, even once being lucky enough to snag the Panic/Tainted Love CD single at a movie store, but I was mostly dependent on illegal downloads and YouTube to efficiently delve deep into the band. Strangely, this added to the band’s mystique for me, like I was using a metal detector on a beach and just so 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, my mission ever since 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 initially 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 a uniquely raw, untethered version of a band compared to their studio recordings. Two, despite a career spanning more than two decades, interviews of Coil continue to be uncommon 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 in the mid-2010s, 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, usually sourced 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 DVD rips were all available, before eventually watching more live video footage proper. Even at this early juncture, though, it was clear to me that I found Coil’s live material to be their pinnacle of artistry and magick. 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 emotionally moved by both of them. Absolutely unforgettable.
It took a while, but imagine my elation when I finally 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 was 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. Over the years, 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 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 there in the ether (hehe). Eventually, I listened to every available recording several times over, the nuances among all of them fascinating me. Naturally, I craved more. However, some remaining Coil affiliates side more with John and Peter on the issue of sharing more of their music. The two of them were not necessarily perfectionists, but they were adamant about maintaining a strict quality control, releasing only the best material and keeping everything else behind closed doors, which is partly why Colour Sound Oblivion included only 14 shows out of 49. As I’m sure you can guess, 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 my belief that preservation is the absolute key to Coil’s legacy. Future generations will have a greater chance at discovering Coil and falling in love with the music just as I did if more of it is out there, and that is really all that matters.
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 as possible. While he has since moved on to greener pastures, 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 releasing their live Coil tapes out into the world. Danny Hyde has shown just how complex and multi-faceted the Backwards sessions of the 90s really were with his releases. How about Thighpaulsandra’s own contributions since 2019?
In 2015, with the greater outpouring of live material and inspired by the online Joy Division and Nirvana gigographies, I decided to create a Word document to keep track of it all. I consistently updated and edited this document as new ephemera surfaced and memories were shared. Periodically, I would post a new edition to the Coil Facebook pages to spread the word and ignite further interest. I believe I was on draft 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 as a burgeoning college student with too many other real life responsibilities, I probably wouldn’t be able to get the resources together to make this happen. In the summer of 2017, I approached my friends Phil Barrington and Stefan Beiersmann about the possibly of making a website instead. I had 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 and for Coil at large.
LCA, while probably FAR more comprehensive and overly detailed than you might expect and/or believe to be necessary, is still a continually evolving beast. All our information gathering has been a labor of love for many years, now, and I intend to keep it going for a few more years yet.
The general layout of each concert page on this website, with a few exceptions where necessary, is typically as follows:
Date, Title and Location
Background – Personal, Touring, & Concert
Advertisements, Backstage, & Related Promo Material
Concert Recording Downloads (including download or streaming links)
Each recording will be detailed in a grid on each concert page. Each grid contains the following information, from left to right:
Type of Recording
Types of recordings are classified as follows:
AUD – audience audio recording.
SBD – soundboard/desk audio 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, usually not included on Colour Sound Oblivion or surfaced separately.
EDIT – professional edit using one or multiple camera angles; each will detail how many cameras were used to make it and whether the cameras were recorded by amateurs or professionals.
“Quality” is measured on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being irredeemably unlistenable/unwatchable and 10 being perfect/highest quality possible. When it comes to videos, this section measures video quality, not the sound quality. In the case 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 higher, because often the recordings went through some processing (track indexing, EQ’ing, mastering, mixing in the case of multitracks, etc.) before being released on a CD or DVD, then a digital rip of those CDs and DVDs results in another generation added.
Regarding Colour Sound Oblivion, it’s unknown exactly what generations the tapes Peter used were, so I try to make educated guesses where I can. It should be noted that back before digital transfers became the norm, Coil would make tape copies. We don’t know how many master tapes Peter had access to.
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 on this website remains unclear unless otherwise stated. Uncertain generations are marked “M?” It is generally agreed upon that if a recording does not have a known lineage, it is lossy. Most digital audio file bootlegs circulating are MP3, anyway.
Some recordings will have an extra letter denoting them, i.e. “#1a” and “#1b.” The letter details a different version of the same recording, such as a remaster or a different release.
Each individual concert page on this website includes download links at the bottom of the listing, though you can find almost all available recordings on archive.org with a simple search. Please note that because I am not responsible for every archive.org upload, recording notation is variable:
Notes on Photographs
I also collect and document photos of Coil performing live, but I do not include them all on this site, due to the fact there are so many and some photographers are very protective of their copyright.
Phil Barrington: “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.”
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 era except the “Black Antlers” phase.
Ian Johnstone – John’s dresses for the ATP and “Black Antlers” shows and Peter and Thighpaulsandra’s shower 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.