Alien Sex Fiend
About Alien Sex Fiend
One of the earliest groups to be labeled goth rock, Alien Sex Fiend are among the genre's most theatrical acts. They're also one of its most humorous, preferring a campy B-movie aesthetic to the dourness or morbidity of many of their peers. Heavily influenced by the Cramps, Alice Cooper, glam rock, punk, and psychedelia, the group's performances are ghoulish spectacles, and their boundlessly creative music combines heavy electronic beats and noisy guitars with warped, dubby effects and samples. Alternately referred to as goth, deathrock, post-punk, or industrial, ASF are ultimately a category unto themselves. The group was highly prolific throughout the '80s, releasing fan-favorite full-lengths such as Acid Bath (1984) and "It" the Album (1986), in addition to numerous remix-filled singles and EPs, showcasing the group's penchant for experimentation. ASF incorporated several electronic dance music styles into their sound before other goth and industrial acts did; the 1989 single "Haunted House" lived up to its name, while the group embraced techno and trance on '90s releases such as Inferno (The Odyssey Continues) (1994). In the 21st century, albums such as Information Overload (2004) and Possessed (2018) have even worked in traces of dancehall and drum'n'bass.
Alien Sex Fiend's origins lie in the Batcave, an influential London club acknowledged as the birthplace of goth culture. Nick Wade, who worked at the Batcave, dubbed himself Nik Fiend and founded the band in 1982, along with his wife Christine Wade (aka Mrs. Fiend), who played synth, as well as guitarist Yaxi Highrizer (born David James) and drummer Johnny "Ha Ha" Freshwater. Prior to forming ASF, Wade had previously been a member of the punk band Demon Preacher as well as Alice Cooper-inspired groups the Earwigs and Mr. & Mrs. Demeanour.
Following some obscure early cassettes, Alien Sex Fiend made their proper debut with the 1983 single "Ignore the Machine," a favorite among goth club denizens; this preceded the full-length Who's Been Sleeping in My Brain? A series of indie chart hits followed in 1984, including "R.I.P.," "Dead and Buried," and "E.S.T. (Trip to the Moon)" (the world's first 11" single). The success of the album Acid Bath further increased the group's visibility, and Alien Sex Fiend became major stars in Japan, resulting in the 1985 live release Liquid Head in Tokyo.
Following the departure of Johnny Ha Ha, the group continued as a trio to record 1985's bleak Maximum Security. After the following year's "It" the Album, released to coincide with Alien Sex Fiend's opening slot on Alice Cooper's Nightmare Returns tour, they recorded 1987's Here Cum Germs, the final offer to feature Yaxi Highrizer. Now essentially a duo, the Fiends explored more synth- and sample-oriented territory on 1988's Another Planet, a trend continued on 1990's Curse, which featured the minor hit "Now I'm Feeling Zombified."
With a revitalized lineup including new guitarist Rat Fink Jr. and keyboardist Doc Milton, Alien Sex Fiend resurfaced in 1992 with Open Head Surgery. After a 1993 live album, Altered States of America, ASF (back to being the duo of Nik and Mrs. Fiend) composed the music for the CD-ROM game Inferno. Released as Inferno (The Odyssey Continues), the album was a venture into instrumental electronic music. With the release of the compilation The Singles 1983-1995, the band's affiliation with longtime label Anagram ended, and the Fiends soon established their own 13th Moon Records imprint. The trance-influenced 1996 EP Evolution found Alien Sex Fiend traveling even further away from their goth beginnings into the realm of electronica, a move continued on 1997's Nocturnal Emissions.
Following numerous compilations and live releases, including the 1999 retrospective Fiend at the Controls, Vols. 1-2, ASF returned with 2004's Information Overload, an adventurous update of the group's sound. Para-Abnormal, a CD of remixes and rarities, followed in 2006. The group's next full-length was delayed due to deaths in the family and other personal issues, but ASF re-emerged with Death Trip in 2010. In 2015, Cherry Red released Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection, the first of two comprehensive box sets of the band's early material. These were followed by the generous triple-CD package Fiendology in 2017. Possessed, Alien Sex Fiend's first studio album in eight years, appeared in 2018. ~ Jason Ankeny & Paul Simpson