David M. Allen was the producer behind some of the most important records of the 1980s and beyond, from The Cure to Depeche Mode, The Human League to Neneh Cherry. With his new band The Magic Sponge about to release the new track ‘That’s Just What Girls Do’ on Seraglio Point Productions forthcoming Chi-Signs II compilation, Allen spoke to Sean Bw Parker about London, his distrust of ‘vision’ and stumbling drunk around YouTube.
SBwP: The Magic Sponge are about to release their second album. For listeners new to the band, how would you describe your sound, influences and how you arrived at where you are now?
DMA: I’m not the leader of the Sponge or the main writer but one of the main influences is “Brian Pern” with a hefty dose of punky jangle.
There are very few producers in the UK who can claim to have had more influence over the sound of the alternative music scene since 1980 as you. If you do, how do you differentiate your producer and musician hats?
I don’t own a musician’s hat. I don’t really know what I do. I say that I am like a blind man walking up a mountain, as long as I keep going up, I’ll get there. I distrust ‘Vision’.
How do you see the Internet revolution’s affect on the music industry? Democratic saviour, valueless sea of dross or something else?
Too early to tell. It does look increasingly like impoverished leisure and digital slavery for the many, wealth and splendour for a few. Plus ça change (that’s to wrap the French connection).
You were the producer of The Cure’s ‘purple patch’ of albums throughout the mid-eighties. Do you think they should have packed it in after Wish in 1992, when many claimed they lost their edge?
No. I admire them for the tenacity and stamina to keep creating and playing shows that give their fans great pleasure. What’s wrong with that?
What did you think of the recent Guardian article that accused their sets of being too long, and Robert Smith’s furious response?
Journo [Caroline Sullivan – Ed] didn’t pay for her ticket. I haven’t read Roberts’ response.
Looking back over the last three or so decades, what would be your fondest musical memories, and least? And who were your favourites and least favourites to work with?
I’m a pain in the arse, it’s been great to find some fellow travellers.
Still being a resident of London, how do you see the apparent massive expense of living in the city, and the exodus of creative types to the south coast?
I love this whole country, even Rotherham. Realisation of equity is a big part of moving from the city to the coast. I don’t have any and I am lucky enough to have a great landlord. Dunno, London does chew you up.
Any plans to play live in support of the new album?
We’ve had a lot of chats about doing something but no one can actually fit their schedules together to have a meeting about it, weird.
I’ll let you know…
Any new musical recommendations for us?
Not really, I’m like everyone else, I just get drunk and stumble around Youtube…I was big into witch house last week.
Finally, what are you drinking?
Hobgoblin and whisky.
Some of our David M Allen choice highlight as a producer/co-producer: