Stephen Mallinder: Collaborations

Stephen Mallinder may have just three solo albums to his name, but he’s been a serial collaborator throughout his career. Here are some of his finest moments…

Eric Random Meets The Bedlamites ‘Earthbound Ghost Need’ (New Hormones album, 1982)

Recorded with Buzzcocks associate Eric Random at Western Works in Sheffield, Cargo in Rochdale and Revolution in Manchester. Featuring Stephen Mallinder on bass and Richard H Kirk on horns. 

Mal says: “I’d met Eric at the infamous Buzzcocks Lyceum show, when Cabaret Voltaire played with them. The Slits and John Cooper Clarke played too. We became great friends and Eric would come and stay with me when we were recording at Western Works. This was the album that captured those sessions and subsequent recordings over the Pennines. I still work with Eric sometimes. We recently did a track with Mark Stewart, ‘Cast No Shadow’, for his new album.”

Love Street ‘Galaxy’ (Parlophone 12-inch, 1988) 

Wow! A proper supergroup – consisting of Mal, FON/Warp kingpin Robert Gordon, Soft Cell’s Dave Ball, Chakk’s Jake Harries and Krush singer Ruth Joy – covering War’s 1977 monster funk romp.

Mal says: “This was a little thing on the side, driven largely by Chakk’s manager Amrik Rai. He had the idea of pulling some of the different FON/Warp elements together, plus myself and Dave Ball, to pay homage to a band and a track that we all loved. It also had a daft video made by photographer Eddie Monsoon. Weirdly, it was a hit in Italy, or so I was told. I think Parlophone wanted a return on their investment!”

Acid Horse ‘No Name, No Slogan’ (Wax Trax! 12-inch, 1989)

Billed as “A spaghetti western soundtrack (without a film)”, this was a one-off meeting between Cabaret Voltaire and Ministry. Everybody involved appears under a pseudonym – Biff (Mal), Harold Sandoz (Kirk), Alien Dog Star (Al Jourgensen), Tennessee King (Paul Barker) and Gallopin’ Scorpiosaddlebutt (Chris Connelly).

Mal says: “This was a totally undercover operation. We were in Chicago for a month, recording with Marshall Jefferson and house artists like Sleazy D, Ten City and Paris Brightledge, but we were doing night sessions and had the days to ourselves. We’d been hanging out with Ministry, so we decided to record the Acid Horse stuff, which is an alternative take on house rhythms. EMI paid for our sessions with Marshall and they would have kicked off if they’d found out we were working on the side, so we all adopted pseudonyms. I did a guest vocal for Chris Connelly’s solo album a couple of years ago.”

Ku-Ling Bros ‘Creach’ (Off World Sounds album, 1999)

The big beat years! Scratching, sampling, weighty basslines and breakbeats galore were the major hallmarks of this album with Shane Norton from Soundlab. Mal had moved to Australia by this point, settling in Perth on the west coast and starting his Off World Sounds label in 1996. 

Mal says: “This was originally intended as a production project. I’d been asked to do a Sneaker Pimps remix and I needed a sampler. So I grabbed Shane, whose Soundlab stuff was set for release on my label, and we ended up doing ‘Creach’. We also did ‘Eat The Rich’, which was a remix record, and then worked with Shaun Ryder on his Amateur Night In The Big Top album. We took the Ku-Ling Bros out of the studio and played live as a six-piece too. There’s some BBC footage somewhere of myself, Shane, Shaun, and Kiriakos Lucas, the guitarist from Yummy Fur, playing in a bar.”

Sassi & Loco ‘Boom Claat’ (Off World Sounds album, 2001)

A truly perfect open-the-windows sunny summer’s day listen with Mal and Yummy Fur keyboardist Travis Calley getting all dubby. Not to be confused with the Scottish band The Yummy Fur, this lot are just Yummy Fur.

Mal says: “I’d been doing bits of production for Yummy Fur, a Perth band signed to Sony. We became very good friends and I did some recordings with Travis, their keyboard player. We never played live, but we did compile all the tracks we’d made for this album, which comes with what is probably my favourite artwork from Central Station Design.”

Looped For Pleasure ‘Deep Down’ (Off World Sounds album, 2002)

A great collection of supercharged house grooves. Looped For Pleasure contributed the track ‘City Lights’ to the seven-inch that accompanied Electronic Sound Issue 31 in 2017.

Mal says: “This is my best mates from Rotherham, Sean Maloney and Mark Swancott, who were in Screaming Trees and later became big garage and 2-step producers. We’ve been doing stuff together for years – we still are! – and I’m currently going through some of our many unheard tracks for a full release. I’m just waiting for the last couple of mixes, which are nearly done. My friend Steve Allott is also involved. He’s the voice of both dissent and reason in the background, pulling faces at us if it’s not right.”

Amateur Night In The Big Top ‘Amateur Night In The Big Top’ (Off World Sounds album, 2003)

Mal hooks up with Pete Carroll and his cousin, Shaun William Ryder. Recorded in a Perth garage in the dead of night.

Mal says: “We did this at such a mad time for Shaun and it still seems to be either people’s favourite or most hated record. The Guardian said, ‘Mal should know better’. Perhaps having Hitler, Thatcher and Saddam Hussein on the cover shaped the response, but it’s Shaun and he’s a complete one-off. To this day, I love ‘The Story’, although the vocal is heavily redacted because the original version would destroy careers. Never regret anything.”

Billie Ray Martin ‘The Crackdown Project’ (Disco Activisto album, 2010)

Electribe 101 singer Billie Ray Martin takes on two Cabaret Voltaire classics, ‘Crackdown’ and ‘Just Fascination’, serving up endless remixes in the process. The record is billed as featuring Stephen Mallinder alongside German duo Märtini Brös and British producer Lusty Zanzibar. 

Mal says: “I’d known Billie when she was living in London during the Electribe 101 years and had always thought her vocals were great. She has an incredibly emotive voice. She asked if I would contribute to this and do the tracks with her. The video for ‘Crackdown’ is a reworking of Peter Care’s original and it’s very political and angry.”

Hey, Rube! ‘Can You Hear Me Mutha?’ (Steel Tiger album, 2012)

With Mal back in the UK, this saw the Yorkshire massive – Sheffield meets Hull – in full effect. Stephen Mallinder and Fila Brazillia’s Steve Cobby was an inspired partnership.

Mal says: “Steve and I go back to the early FON/Warp days and Fila Brazillia had put stuff out on Off World Sounds. I spent a lot of time recording with Steve, to the point where Hull became a second home for me. This album was the result of our hilarious sessions together – brothers in arms!”

Kula ‘Tenement Noise’ (Klanggalerie EP, 2014) 

Four mixes of a track recorded with Ron Wright, frontman of acclaimed Sheffield outfit Hula… which is about as much as we can tell you. Mal?

Mal says: “This is a bit of a mystery to me as well! It comes from an unearthed reel-to-reel recording of Hula that I had apparently made in 1981… but have no clear memory of. It’s totally feasible because I shared a house with the band – the mythological castle Hula Kula – so I should imagine it came from there. Anyway, Ron and myself agreed that we would each do an extended mix from the original recording for this release.”

Wrangler ‘LA Spark’ (MemeTune album, 2014) 

Mal plus Phil Winter from Tunng and Benge from John Foxx And The Maths. Wrangler’s debut album surely needs no further introduction.

Mal says: “I have known Phil since the early 80s and we were always getting together to play, record, DJ and party in London. When I came back to the UK, Phil told me I had to meet Benge, so I went to see him in the studio. We’d recorded our first seven-inch within two hours and we haven’t stopped since. The three of us have the greatest chemistry. We bounce off each other – and usually the walls! I really cherish working with Phil and Benge and I’m so glad we all hooked up.”

Cobby & Mallinder ‘Tumblefish’ / ‘Vitamin C’ (Throne Of Blood 12-inch, 2016)

Another release with Steve Cobby, this time a 12-inch featuring an original track and a great Can cover version, but no longer credited to Hey, Rube!.

Mal says: “When we were doing the Hey, Rube! stuff, Steve was saying, ‘The trouble is, if you don’t have your name on a record, the way algorithms work, nobody will fucking find it’, so we changed the name for practical reasons. We went through so many iterations to get to the final version of ‘Vitamin C’ – all kinds of constructions and instrumentation. We started with the intention of doing an album of covers, but we gave up after this. We realised that reworking tracks you love is pretty much impossible because you can never do them justice.” 

Creep Show ‘Mr Dynamite’ (Bella Union album, 2018)

Wrangler plus John Grant. Electronic Sound’s Album Of The Year in 2018 – and for good reason.

Mal says: “John first appeared at the soundcheck when Wrangler played with Chris & Cosey at their Sensoria show in Sheffield, although John gives me shit for not remembering meeting him with Robin Guthrie at a Moloko gig years before. We gravitated towards each other from that moment. We did a Wrangler remix of ‘Voodoo Doll’, supported him at the Albert Hall, and then finally played as a ‘band’ at the Barbican for Rough Trade’s 40th anniversary in 2016. John is one of the most creative, funny and wonderful people I’ve ever met. We have a ball when we’re working. The only hard bit about the whole project was agreeing a name… Cattle Grid? Tupperware Party? For fuck’s sake!”

Mzylkypop ‘Presents Xzyles’ (Do It Thissen 12-inch EP, 2019)

There’s so much to love about this scuzzy funk four-tracker. Mal, Mick Somerset, Adi Newton, Dean Honer, Pete Hope, Simon Lewinski, Martin Archer… it’s a proper old school Sheffield supergroup released on a brilliant new school Sheffield label.

Mal says: “This was drawn together by Mick Somerset, who is my oldest friend. We’ve known each other since we were 14 years old. He’s part of Sheffield’s musical DNA. From soul bands, through Clock DVA, Floy Joy and the brilliant Crooked Man, he has shaped the city’s sound as much as anyone. And he’s a style icon. If Mick asks me to do something, I’ll do it, no questions asked – from recording, playing live, doing spoken word, or writing press releases. To be fair, we all do. Just ask Dean Honer.”

Campbell, Mallinder, Benge ‘Clinker’ (Les Disques Du Crépuscule album, 2021)

Benge unearths some old synth sketches that are turned into post-punk belters with the help of Mal and LoneLady.

Mal says: “This had been gestating under the ground for a long time and then it all happened very quickly. We were in lockdown, so the final tweaks on the album happened remotely. It’s a wonderful collision of sounds and Julie’s guitar is such a vibrant element. Even though she’s been on Wrangler recordings and played with us live, it’s something that I’ve missed so much without realising it. This worked so well.”

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