Alex Paterson

Celebrating 30 years of The Orb, Alex Paterson offers up a few of the influences that have shaped his life

The Orb January 2018


“I have to say with my hand on my heart, thanks to my father, even though I lost him when I was three, for taking me to Stamford Bridge from the age of one. To say it’s in my blood is an understatement. It used to be tribal, but now in the Abramovich era everyone thinks I’m a glory hunter, which is kind of annoying. Football’s been my life, and I’m really happy my son’s got intoa football. He’s playing for a local team down in Kingston. I think I probably got into reggae because Chelsea always played ‘Liquidator’ [by Harry J All Stars] when the team came out.”


“A lot of the influence for ‘…Ultraworld’, ‘Orbus Terrarum’, ‘UFOrb’ and ‘Cydonia’ came from reading books, mainly by Colin Wilson or Phillip K Dick. There’s a lifetime of reading in the books of Philip K Dick. If you’re trying to understand them, forget it! The bloke was on ketamine before ketamine was invented when he was writing those books. ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

“Wilson’s work is not so much science fiction as very, very ancient history. His first book was about the occult, but he goes into Ripper stories, Genghis Khan… ‘A Criminal History of Mankind’ is mindblowing. It takes you into the world of the psychotic human. Not that I ever wanted to be a mass murderer, I just want to see what’s going in there.”


“When I moved from Battersea I looked back and thought, ‘Why the fuck did I live there?!’. Battersea was mental. You’ve got the massive train station up the road, all these cars going up and down Battersea Park Road constantly, there’s a helicopter pad so it’s like Vietnam happening outside the window… and to top it all off you’re on the flightpath to Heathrow. West Norwood is much more peaceful.”


“This little record shop on West Norwood High Street has been an inspiration in so many different ways, from friends flying in and saying, ‘I’ve got some records for you’, to doing our weekly internet radio shows. Then you’ve got the Cakelab event that happens there once a month – we get people to make cakes, we play music, oh and there’s a bar there too.”


“My boarding school [in Oxfordshire] was a horrible place, but there were two hours after prep in the evening where we could do down to this cellar, The Jazz Cellar, which we’d done up, painted hand prints and footprints on the wall. We’d take turns playing records, things like Alice Cooper. There was an opening into the cellar, which they’d used to put coal through at one time, and we’d line the bottom with mattresses and you could jump through the window and land on them, it was pretty cool. The school has actually asked us to come back and play at an event in the summer that they’ve called The Chill On The Hill, but they want to start at 11am in the morning!”


“I’ve known him since he was 11. I could tell you so many stories about him at school and I don’t think he’d mind me telling you. There was one time we were all riding around on push bikes and he fell off on his face and scraped his chin very badly along the road and had to go to hospital. I remember us being chased by skinheads and him not being able to climb over a wall because he was wearing bondage trousers.”


“I consider Killing Joke to be my brothers. I was there when [Killing Joke’s guitarist] Geordie turned up at our flat because Youth had answered an advert in the music press to be their a bass player. I learnt so much from them, quite a lot was what not to do… like don’t disappear when you’re about to make it big. Like don’t turn up at the Melody Maker offices and cut your arm open and pour a load of maggots onto the front desk. I’ve always tried to be friendly to the press, as they can help you achieve what you want. Killing Joke didn’t see it hat way! You know, it’s The Orb’s 30th anniversary and apparently it’s Killing Joke’s 40th, although that’s not quite how I remember it, we should do a gig together. I’m not bothered about who goes on first and who goes on last.”


“I can talk about this now that my mum’s not with us anymore, she died last November, but weed has been an influence. It just makes everything a little more intense. I’d have liked to have had a spliff with my mum, but her generation just didn’t get it at all.”


“The Orb is like a holiday in the future. For me it was a way of escaping south London. I think people did get that from the first album, it was like a trip to all these unknown places. We wanted to create ambience that was nostalgic yet futuristic – ‘Spanish Castles In Space’ is an example, it stinks of jazz but at the same time it’s like a ‘Star Trek’ film.”

‘No Sounds Are Out of Bounds’ is released by Cooking Vinyl

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