When rave was as new as today's dubstep, trap, or EDM, Sheep On Drugs were helping bands like The Prodigy, Lords Or Acid, and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult create the very genre, while at the same time, incorporating elements of punk and rock into their unique productions. "Dead" Lee Fraser and then-singer Duncan "Revered X" created some of the most well-crafted and experimental songs that the underground will ever hear, and even after a few lineup changes over the years, Lee Fraser has kept his flocks of fans happy with new incarnations of the band.

While many techno projects went in a myriad of directions, often becoming copies of one another, Sheep On Drugs even embraced the goth and industrial musical styles, at one point even working with the legendary Invisible Records roster of bands, of which most famously, Pigface was released on. They, of course, consisted of members from Nine Inch Nails, Evil Mothers, and even a keyboardist named Diablo who would one day work on stage with Fraser.

Live, the band has appeared on stage with "a timebomb" strapped to the singer, used mannequins is the most unusual of ways, and even threw a lit Roman Candle-like explosive into the crowd in Detroit in the basement of St.

Andrews Hall as Orbital played upstairs (at the same time!) while saying to the crowd, "Why don't we all just f*****g stand there? I could go down the street, open a crackhouse, and be god to you people."

That is one way to handle a promoter error.

While Sheep On Drugs were often known for club-thumpers like "Uberman" or "Fifteen Minutes Of Fame," they also were at the forefront of the jungle/drum n' bass movement ("Night Fever") and even outright noise landscapes (with looped bong hit noises).

Songs like "And More" remains to this day some of the most off-center and interesting poetry pieces ever written, they were simply that diverse.

... and they still are.

Upon the release of "Does Dark Matter," Blasting News writer Samuel Di Gangi contacted the shepherd himself, Lee Fraser, and asked about the old the days, the new sound, how the music was created and could there ever another Bagman CD?

As a matter of fact, a whole slew of questions was emailed across the drink.

His answers to those questions are quite interesting and, as always, often humorous.

A big welcome back

Samuel Di Gangi: First and foremost, welcome back! What drove the return of Sheep On Drugs?

Lee Fraser: Addiction. The music business has collapsed, not many people can earn a living making music these days, many have given up. I can’t stop. I’m addicted to making music.

Di Gangi: Duncan left the band, it was said by some, to pursue tattooing and because he was not happy with the record industry in general (which must be even worse now, yes?).

He talked about battling drugs and even did a very interesting Tumblr video where he talked about wanting to give his son first tat', should he ever get one. "Reverend X," as he was also called, has appeared with you over the years a few times. Do you still talk to him and can fans expect the Rev himself popping up for a show somewhere?

Fraser: Duncan gave up performing in Sheep On Drugs after our 1998 tour of the states. Invisible Records had a lot to do with Duncan giving up. Something happened on that tour between Invisible and Duncan. He was blackmailed into signing a contract with them or not being properly paid.

He didn’t sign. After that point, he didn’t want to play anymore. His spirit was crushed. It still is bruised. He will never perform on stage again.

That’s a great pity.

On a positive note, we see each other regularly. We’re the best of mates and have been for 30 years now. He’s really happy with his life as a tattooist.

Di Gangi: Speaking of other members, Diablo was also a member of Sheep On Drugs during your time in the U.S. Do you have any plans to work with him, perhaps if you tour the U.S.?

Fraser: Diablo helped me out on the 2005 tour of the states. I didn’t have a partner in crime at that point, just having finished the album ‘F**K’.

I arrived in the states hoping to work with someone invisible records had arranged to work with me. They didn’t work out. Diablo was on the ‘Pigface’ tour anyway, so I got him to help me too. He played keys for me. He did a great job. I haven’t seen him since then and as I now have a partner in crime, Johnny [Borden - female vocalist], I have no plans to work with him in the future. If I get to tour the US again. Johnny is coming with me.

Di Gangi: Johnny Borden took a lot of fans by surprise since the singing in the past had gone from Duncan to you... and then to a female lead vocalist. How has her addition to the band helped the music evolve and what does it mean for the sound of the older songs like "Uberman," "Life Is Just A Game" "Fifteen Minutes Of Fame," or "X-Lover"?

Duncan had such a unique voice: has she attempted to sound similar to him in any way or has she taken those songs in totally new directions?

Fraser: As I said previously around 2004/5 I was lacking a musical collaborator. I’d tried one or 2 people, none worked, so I decided to do the singing myself. I don’t consider myself a singer, but Sheep On Drugs needed a front person that wasn’t going to change. I figured I could change [a] keyboardist every gig if necessary until I found a keeper. That’s what I did. Johnny joined the band in 2006. I haven’t looked back since she joined. We have a great working relationship.

Once I realized she was going to stay, we gradually moved Johnny into the front person role. This makes sense as she has a great voice and is a great performer. This leaves me to control the music, a role I am much happier with. I still sing a few numbers, but Johnny does the majority.

She has made the old songs that Duncan used to sing her own. She doesn’t sound like Duncan especially (which is cool, Duncan wasn’t a singer either), but the vigor with which she performs them is equal to him. Punter [nicknames for their fans] likes it, I’ve had no complaints.

As far as writing new songs, working with Johnny is great, she can sing, so we can now put vocal melodies in our tracks.

Bonus.

Di Gangi: Speaking of "X-Lover," we spoke back when the CD ("One For The Money") first came out many years ago and you talked about how that guitar effect was achieved on the chorus (the "cutting off" sound). If you recall it, can you tell that story again? Also, while speaking of the technical side of musical creations, is there any of the jungle breaks from the past still being done live?

Fraser: Sure, the kids need to know how it’s done. It’s a great guitar effect. It was done with a Drawmer midi noise gate, although any key-able noise gate will do. We used a midi keyboard to open and close the gate, letting the guitar sound through when it’s open and cutting it off when it’s shut.

Playing a rhythm on the keyboard opens the gate to that rhythm, creating the chopped-up guitar sound you hear.

The most jungle of the breaks we’re doing live at the moment is our cover of ‘Waiting For The Man’.

The return of Bagman?

Di Gangi: Bagman, one of the most interesting drum n' bass projects to be released ever, isn't always talked about as much as Sheep On Drugs, but many people remember it. Are there any plans to either play a song or two from that project or to make new Bagman music?

Fraser: Thanks.

Bagman’ was a response to Duncan leaving the band. No vocalist required. The name was a response to the fact I was living out of a bag most of the time as I roamed around the US and Japan for a couple of years.

When I first started doing Bagman I envisaged 3 albums, pink one a blue one and a green one. The pink and blue exist. There’s still room for the green. Also, there is the fact that I won’t require a vocalist. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Di Gangi: Pigface is again touring in the U.S. Do you have any plans to tour in America again, either without or without anyone from that project? With both bands active again, is there any chance that Sheep On Drugs would do any work, remixes, or anything with Invisible Records?

Fraser: I would love to tour the US again. There was talk of Sheep On Drugs playing this year, for 14 of those gigs with Pigface.

Apparently the visas were too expensive to justify the 2-week tour, so it wasn’t followed through. I have a gut feeling we’ll be back before long though.

I don’t think Invisible Records release records anymore, so I doubt I’ll be doing any work for them. Although if they did, I’d do the work. I can’t afford to be fussy.

Di Gangi: The new CD, "Does Dark Matter" has some of the most interesting and diverse music ever released under the Sheep On Drugs moniker. How has the new music been embraced by the community of fans and how did the title come about?

Getting the new music 'herd'

Fraser: First of all, Does Dark Matter, doesn’t exist on CD (not yet anyway). We only released the album on heavy vinyl 12” and download. In my opinion, it sounds much better on vinyl, slightly less clear possibly, but more magical certainly.

Thanks again.

The album has been well received by punter. They really love it, which is what we wanted. It was a risk, changing styles like that. It paid off though.

The name has something to do with dark matter and dark energy which is 95 percent of the universe and, of which, we know nothing about and how Sheep In Drugs manipulate it for your and our benefit.

Di Gangi: One of the things that shocked many fans was that there is no "hard" song on "Does Dark Matter" in the way that "Machine Sex" or "F**K" is. Was this a purposeful change and are many of the harder songs still being done live?

Fraser: It was deliberate, but not contrived. We just went with what felt good. It evolved completely organically. I think it benefited from that. Live songs are a peculiar thing. Only some songs work live, upbeat songs being the majority. The harder songs, or some of them, work live.

Consequently, they’re in our current live set.

Di Gangi: There are a great number of videos from the new CD. Who has been doing the shooting, editing, and how did that idea come about? It is certainly a good way to have the whole CD listened to in the age of "click and forget."

Fraser: Wystan Mayes has been our cameraman and edited some of the videos. I myself have also done some of the videos. I feel these days a band needs to make a video for every song. This enables people to watch it and hear the song for free. If they like it enough, they’ll buy it, which enables us to carry on. Win, win.

DI Gangi: What are some of the "music nerd" facts about the new CD? There seem to be some interesting keyboard lines, some songs are in strange keys, and a lot of "theory" can be heard in many of the songs.

Fraser: The main “theory” was to make a good album. As far as music theory, I don’t really know it. I just go with, "if it sounds good it is good."

I did the programming on Ableton Live 9 Suite. I recorded the bass and Johnny’s vocals, then mixed it in Logic Pro. I then got it mastered by Greg Hunter (who mixed some of our very early singles). We were pleased with the results.

Di Gangi: My famous last question: What is something that you have never been asked but feel that you would like to address or have the world to know?

Fraser: “I’m not giving up, whatever it takes, I’m doing it.” is the answer to the question I’ve never been asked.

With all of the bands and sounds who Sheep On Drugs have influenced (even if some of the newbies may not even know it), it is no surprise that such an answer would be given. It isn't very often that a small underground band can remain afloat in 2019, yet Sheep On Drugs is flourishing.

There is nothing to be sheepish about.

*The author wishes to thank Lee and all members involved (past or present) for being someone who has, since the mid-'90s, always taken the time to be so kind to him and those with him. Even long, long before anything was ever published and said author was only a fanboy (punter).

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