by Bill Pearis
Westword: What was the catalyst for the recent reunion, this tour and the new album?The correct way to pronounce their name is still a mystery, but industrial/EBM act Nitzer Ebb are back with their first new album in 15 years, Industrial Complex, and -- as previously reported -- currently on their first U.S. tour in a decade that will bring them to the Gramercy Theatre in NYC this Friday (12/4) (tickets).
Bon Harris: Douglas got in touch with me, sent me an email, and said that he'd been doing some shows with FixmerMcCarthy. Because Douglas had been doing some live shows in Europe, people were asking about the Ebb and if there was any chance of the Ebb every doing shows again. Douglas said he doubted it because he and I hadn't spoken for seven years at that point. But he called me and it just so happened that I had been doing a lot of studio projects and was looking for a change of pace.
So he caught me at the right time and I said, "Let's meet up and talk about it." Mute had been working on doing a Best Of release as well and we spoke to them and the idea was that that would give Mute the push to finish the Best Of and we would do a handful of shows to promote it and that was going to be it. When we got back together and did the shows, we were having such a good time with it and the response was so good and the demand was there and we decided to see what happens and here we are three years later with a new album. It's been interesting because there have been long-standing fans who have been at the shows but there has also been a whole crop of people, younger kids in their early twenties who have only heard the hand-me-down tales and have got the records and stuff but have never seen us. For a lot of people it's kind of a strange thing and with Depeche Mode a lot of people in Europe are going nuts because that's kind of their dream team show.
In the late '80s, when Front 242, Moev, the Neon Judgement, The Weathermen and other such groups were college radio staples, Nitzer Ebb were near the top of the heap thanks to iconic shout-a-long singles like "Join in the Chant" and "Control, I'm Here." The new album is being sold at shows and via iTunes currently (officially out January 22, 2010), mixes acoustic drums (moreso than I remember them doing in the past) with the band's usual clanking rhythms and throbbing synths, and you might have even heard songs from it if you watch Fringe, C.S.I. or went to see the new Saw movie.
After their U.S. tour, Nitzer Ebb will open for their onetime Mute Records label-mates Depeche Mode on their upcoming 2010 European tour. If you're old like me, you might have even seen these two groups -- the "dream team' -- tour together on DM's Violator tour way back in 1990. For me, it was at the Starlake Amphitheatre outside Pittsburgh, where I interviewed Nitzer Ebb after the show for my college radio station. I thought I was going to solve the "nitt-zer"/"nite-zer" debate once and for all by asking singer Douglas McCarthy which was the official pronunciation. "I say both," he admitted. "It doesn't really matter."
All 2009 Nitzer Ebb North American tour dates, and a couple videos, are below....
"Join in the Chant" live in San Francisco, Nov 2009
"Lightning Man" music video
Nitzer Ebb 2009 North American Tour Dates
12.1 Toronto @ Mod Club
12.2 Montreal @ Le Foufounes
12.3 Boston @ Paradise
12.4 New York @ Gramercy Theatre
12.5 Philadelphia @ The Starlight
12.6 Fairfax @ Jaxx
12.8 Jacksonville @ Jackrabbit's
12.10 Atlanta @ Masquerade
12.11 New Orleans @ The Hangar
12.15 Tucson @ The Rock
12.16 Tempe @ Marquee Theatre
12.17 San Diego @ Brick By Brick
12. 18 Ventura @ Majestic Ventura
12.19 Santa Ana @ Galaxy