Cross channel ferry. Third Mind Trip to Paris 1987. Martin third from left, Gary fourth from left, Julia far right.

ATTRITION The early years.
A recollection from Gary Levermore. Ex-Third Mind records.

The middle of 1982 turned out to be something of a watershed period in my life. Aged 18, I was on the one hand incredibly bored with the job that I had gone into immediately after leaving school the previous summer; on the other, as a fan of the immediate post-punk era, my thirst for adventurous music was leading me to discover ever more weird and wonderful sounds, old and new, and had inspired myself and two friends to start a group and a fanzine, both named - with our typically macabre humour - Tone Death.

My main musical memories of the early part of that summer are of evenings spent devouring as many recordings, gigs, books, magazines and fanzines as possible and writing to a number of the bands featured in them, usually of the electronic, experimental and industrial sounding variety.
A couple of weeks later I was in hospital suffering from severe stomach pains. My parents visited and brought me a few items of post, which included the very first response to the letters I'd sent to a band I'd just discovered called Attrition. The demo tape they sent included songs with a dark, experimental electronic sound and intelligently abstract yet politically direct lyrics delivered by a male/female twin vocal attack was highly intriguing. Suffice it to say that an interview with Martin (the male vocalist and group spokesman) and a revew of the demo found their way into the first issue of Tone Death, which was issued in a limited run of 200 copies at the end of that summer. More importantly, it signalled the beginning of a friendship which has lasted to this day.

Later in the year, completing the editorial for the second issue of Tone Death, I began considering the possibility of releasing a cassette containing contributions by some of the groups that had been featured in the two issues to date. The resulting 'Rising From The Red Sand Vols. I&II' 2xC60 compilation, included tracks from Attrition and bands such as The Legendary Pink Dots, Nurse With Wound ,Chris & Cosey etc... all of whom remain musically active and totally dedicated practitoners of their art.

The first time I actually met Martin was at the very first UK Electronica Festival in Milton Keynes in September 1983. Sharing a booth with Chris & Cosey, I was selling copies of my just released 'Rising From The Red Sand Vols. III-V' 3xC60 follow-up, which again included a track by Attrition. Given that I had also recently released a C30 cassette by the band entitled 'Onslaught', I recall that this was the first occasion that we discussed the possibility of releasing the debut full length vinyl album of their music. Soon after meeting again in Coventry that autumn, I gave up my day job to have a shot at running Third Mind as a full-time record company, and the band became the first proper 'signing' to the label.

I subsequently released three albums by Attrition between 1984 and 1986 - 'The Attrition Of Reason', 'Smiling, At The Hypogonder Club' and 'In The Realm Of The Hungry Ghosts' - as well as 'The Voice Of God EP' and 'Shrinkwrap' 12" singles, before they moved on to pastures new. Reflecting on that period in compiling these notes has reminded me of how important this period was in the development of not only the group, but also Third Mind and my own career. Where Attrition's debut LP had been (literally) a superior home-made effort, recorded and produced in their embryonic home studio. The second album was recorded at Berry Farm studios in sussex and was the musical and production quantum leap forward that was "....Hypogonder Club". Housed in beautiful packaging, the record may not have made us any money, but it demonstrated that both the band and myself as their label boss meant business.
Similarly, although I had realised very early on that, with a few exceptions, the UK was by now something of a backwater as far as media encouragement of its current homegrown crop of underground electronic acts and labels was concerned, and had therefore concentrated my promotional efforts on more appeciative territories such as North America, Germany, the Benelux, Scandinavia and even Australia, Martin was also an extremely useful networker, seeking out important new contacts whenever Attrition toured abroad and passing them on to me.
Sadly, despite our friendship and all the time and effort that we had put into our work together, there was very little money available to promote and market any Third Mind releases properly at this time and it was obvious that Attrition needed to go elsewhere if they were to progress their career in the way that they deserved. 'In The Realm Of The Hungry Ghosts' thus served as a useful appendix to the 'Third Mind Years', rounding up several rare and unreleased tracks and subjecting them to treatment at the Surgeons Lab studio in West London owned by our friend Terry Burrows (another contact initially made by Martin!) before their release on LP.

I've often reminisced about those days. Anything seems possible when you're young and working with friends on something you love doing, and one tries to maintain that level of enthusiasm for as long as possible. As far as I can tell, it never faltered. In my career as a record label owner and/or manager and in my leisure time as a record collector, I've never lost the thrill of hearing a great record for the first time, but I've always been one important step removed from the recording ie. the creative process. It is one thing to act as an occasional promoter, marketeer or nursemaid for a number of different artists and delight or suffer in their acclaim or misfortune, but it is quite another to write, record and produce one's own music and then promote it as well. I've always been full of admiration for those artists who, despite never achieving 'household name' status (except in my household, that is), have persisted in their endeavours. When they've done this in the egoless, good-humoured manner that Martin has, their efforts deserve greater appreciation still.

Gary Levermore (ex Third Mind records, now runs the Tora promotions company, London, England.)
March 2000


Paris 1987. photo by Mick Mercer.