Hercules & Love Affair return to the fray today with “Controller”, a pulsing, propulsive new song that signals the first salvo from their long-awaited new album. Featuring The Horrors’ Faris Badwan on vocals, it takes the Hercules’ disco-house heritage and fuses it with starker post-punk stylings.
“Recently I’ve been aesthetically interested in the raw experimentation of early 80s electronic dance outside the glossier new wave pop music we know from the time,” explains head honcho Andy Butler, “Cabaret Voltaire, lots of noisier older music. It’s funny that I ended up in Belgium, considering all of the music that came from here – Front 242, Telex, and so on.”
A taster both sonically and aesthetically of the new album, Controller connects new wave, post-punk and 80s electro with- in the clubland realm of Hercules & Love Affair. Although much of the new album has been recorded in Andy Butler’s newly adopted hometown of Ghent in Belgium, it was in London – while working with fashion designer James Long – that he found the vocalist for his latest Hercules’ return.
Hearing the The Horrors’ live version of Frankie Knuckles & Jamie Principle’s ‘Your Love’, Andy realised he’d found a rock artist willing to engage with dance culture’s history. “I wanted a vocalist who flirted with the darkness” he explains,“someone who had a touch of an Ian Astbury or Andrew Eldritch about them, or even of Ian Curtis.”
With its underbelly of seamy ‘80s electro-pop, “Controller”’s sub-dom, master-and-servant roleplay in the lyrics didn’t go unnoticed by Faris….
“I agreed to work with Andy on the condition that he would take me on a tour of Ghent’s S&M clubs. Latex or no latex he was fun to write with – it’s different to stuff I’ve done before and I really enjoyed his way of working.. He has a great ear for melody. It was a good deal.”
“That’s a fair assessment,” Andy laughs, “but actually the new album is a lot about spirituality. Faris was happy to engage with that. He went into the recording booth, would come out with something, and I’d say, “Did you just sing, ‘I love what you’re making me do’?” He’d say, “No, but that sounds cool.” That’s how the song was made, it unfolded out of an uncon- scious process. It’s about being used by a higher entity but there’s this second layer which is a play on intense sub-dom sexual roleplay!”