i. What kind of music do they play?
Whitehouse specialise primarily in extreme electronic music, a genre they pioneered in 1980, which in the late 80s greatly influenced, if not spawned, a wave of (in particular Japanese) 'noise' groups in addition to many other musicians in different fields. Early trademark sounds were layers of white and pink noise, subsonic bass sounds and ferocious electronic effects, with or without vocals. Since then they have also experimented with analogue and digital synthesis, and more recently, unconventional acoustic rhythmic elements.
ii. What is the current line-up and what instruments have they played?
William Bennett - animal response technician: founding member in 1980 at 18 and pioneer of extreme electronic music
instruments they have used include : computers, tone generators, synthesisers, samplers, homemade sound devices, djembes, doundouns, ksings, effects units, microphones, DAT recorders
iii. When was the group formed?
The group was formed in early 1980 by William Bennett. The following is an extract from the liner notes to the 2LP/CD Cream Of The Second Coming: "While I was playing guitar up onstage with Essential Logic as an 18-year-old back in 1978, I often fantasised about creating a sound that could bludgeon an audience into submission. At that time Essential Logic toured with The Normal (Daniel Miller) and Robert Rental with whom I became friends. Daniel inspired me and helped me to do it while Robert sold me an uncontrollably vicious beast of a synthesiser which subsequently became the heart of the Whitehouse sound."
iv. What is the origin of the name?
The name is a play on words: Whitehouse is both the name of a British sex magazine and the surname of Mary, an English activist, now deceased, on a constant crusade against the alleged proliferation of 'filth' on TV and other media.
v. What is their official discography?
- Singles: Thank Your Lucky Stars b/w Sadist 7" (1988), Still Going Strong b/w Ankles And Wrists 7" (1991), Cruise (Force The Truth) 12" (2001), Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel 12" (2002)
- Albums: Birthdeath Experience (1980), Total Sex (1980), Erector (1981), Dedicated To Peter Kurten (1981), Buchenwald (1981),New Britain (1982), Psychopathia Sexualis (1982), Right To Kill (1983), Great White Death (1984), Thank Your Lucky Stars(1990), Twice Is Not Enough (1991), Never Forget Death (1992), Halogen (1994), Quality Time. (1995), Mummy And Daddy(1998), Cruise (2001), Bird Seed (2003), Asceticists 2006 (2006), Racket (2007)
- Japanese Fanatics Club: Dictator II (3" CD single - 1994), Tokyo Halogen (live CD album - 1995), Just Like A Cunt (WB Vocal Version) (3" CD single - 1996)
- Compilation appearances: The Second Coming (1981), Hoisting The Black Flag (1981), Für Ilse Koch (1982)
Also visit complete studio recordings dossier.
vi. What about live performances?
Whitehouse began performing live actions in 1982 - visit complete live actions dossier.
vii. What are their future plans?
Llive concerts in 2009 have so far only included Portugal although others are planned. Latest album Racket was released on May 31st 2007. New studio recordings are currently in development.
viii. Does Whitehouse have any political stance or viewpoint?
Whitehouse have never had any agenda in this regard. No crusades, no mission. William Bennett: "There are people who, for needs of self-affirmation of their own prejudices, demand that certain things be demonised in contrast to their own image or belief system. Exposing this is, for me, one of the most interesting, even gratifying, phenomena coming out of producing this music."
ix. Why have the albums Psychopathia Sexualis and Right To Kill not been reissued on CD?
The original master tapes of Psychopathia Sexualis are missing presumed lost, and the only alternative would be to master the CD from a copy of the original vinyl. It was felt that although, with the right technology and with 'normal' recorded music, this process can be relatively successful, the experimental nature of the contents would produce poor results. The hi-tech software used to remove the sounds of crackles and scratches may also remove parts of the music.
Right To Kill was originally released in a very limited number (approx. 300 copies) as it was of a particularly clandestine nature. The label feels that to preserve its original intent is of great importance, despite an obvious desire to be able to widen its availability in the new digital format.
x. Are all the albums now available on vinyl?
All the studio albums with the exception of the above two cases are part of a limited special vinyl reissue series which commenced with theCruise (2LP) in April 2007 - since then there is now also the Total Sex 2LP, Birthdeath Experience, Erector and Asceticists 2006 LPs and will be followed by Bird Seed 2LP in September 2008.
xi. Have there been any bootlegs released?
The problem with bootlegs and pirate recordings was at its worst in the years intervening the cessation of Come Organisation and the beginning of Susan Lawly (one of the motives for starting the new label).
Most of the pirate recordings originated in Germany at the hands of Achim Flamm and Christoph Heemann. Sound-wise they were of extremely poor quality as they all had been crudely recorded from copies of the vinyl LPs. The packaging was made in such a way that people would think they had an original copy.
Other than knowing the details and exact appearance of the originals, the way to check is to look for the correct catalogue number etched on the inside groove often with messages in English like 'Porky Prime Cut'. We are happy to help people identify the authenticity of their records, if they are not sure. The above-mentioned Flamm and Heemann were also responsible for the 'Concrete Records' 7" single of Right To Kill and several bootleg live albums eg. 'The Sounds of Sadism', in addition to the unauthorised pirate release of the Ohrenschrauben LP on 2CD. They were originally licensed by all the groups to press 150 copies of the LP and expressly forbidden from further releases. Both of them are being monitored in the event of legal action being brought.
Most other bootleg releases originate from Japan and were often, but not always, pressed onto acetates in small numbers from between 30-100 copies. Most of the Japanese bootlegs were of live action recordings. One of the more extraordinary items was the metal box containing 6 gold acetates 7" singles, a T-shirt and several small posters and leaflets. This package apparently retailed at $500.
In recent times the problem seems to have abated especially since Susan Lawly commenced the series of high quality CD reissues, and now with the addition of 2007's commencement of the vinyl series. We have had no reports of significant new bootlegs in the last few years from any source.
xii. What is the true story about the abortive United Dairies CD reissue of the 150 Murderous Passions album on Come Organisation?
William Bennett: "This is strictly speaking neither a Whitehouse nor a NWW album but was a special project. Steve Stapleton produced the 'long' track and I produced the 'short' track with assistance from each other and Peter McKay on the other's tracks. It was Alan Trench's PWC (in all but name - subsequently to be named World Serpent) and Stapleton who decided to market the album as WH/NWW for commercial reasons (to make a quick buck - like with so many of their and Current 93's releases) - it was released by them without my consultation or permission (although they later paid the money owing from it). The proof of the greed is that they could have asked me for the tapes which I would gladly have provided - but their haste proved too great. The master tapes were, and always have been, in my possession - when PWC ('UD') went ahead with the CD and LP release they simply mastered it from a vinyl copy of the album. That's why the 'mix' sounds so different (and so disappointingly poor, in my opinion) because, to disguise its origins, lots of reverb and other effects were (rather clumsily) added to it. Susan Lawly decided to include my track on Cream of The Second Coming so that at least it was available for people to hear in its proper form. If you have access to the Come Organisation original you will hear the enormous difference." NB. These recordings are available in original digitally remastered format on the release Anthology 1 double CD (SLCD019).
xiii. Are Whitehouse 'misogynist'?
The lyrics of certain songs have led certain people to the view that the group is misogynist. Judging by the high percentages of women at recent Whitehouse live actions it might seem odd to reach this assumption. William Bennett: "I don't consider myself a misogynist in any way whatsoever, although I can understand why people might question that. There are a set of much more complex emotional functions involved with these songs and I've never felt that simple hatred was one of them, and in this light I don't doubt most women's capacity to perfectly understand that."