❉ Ange Chan reviews the synth rock outfit’s latest album and chats with its creator, Larry Smith.
Androids in the Mist was originally the project name for music remixes by creator Larry Smith, but is now the name for his band projects, which he describes as ‘electronic synth rock with a difference’. Larry was hugely influenced in the late ’70s/early ’80s by synth pioneers like Gary Numan, and he bought his first synthesiser, a Roland SH101, when he was 18 years old and dabbled in recording music using a Fostex X15 4-track and a Soundmaster Stix ST-305 drum machine. Subsequently, he was involved with many like-minded New Romantic style bands, and also played keyboards in a professional electronic ’80s tribute band, playing all over the UK, and in Germany.
Going back to 2016 and with a new studio set up, the material produced by Larry was initially meant to be an eclectic affair, using electronics and different guest singers. However, having worked with an array of both male and female exceptional singers, Larry decided that they didn’t suit the dark mood of his intended vision for the band. He subsequently decided to try doing the vocals himself, which delivered exactly the brooding, dark sound he was looking for.
The first Androids in the Mist release was in the autumn of 2017 with the 6-track EP Brazen Guns in Timeless Zones. It was a mix of vocal samples and electronica rock which leaned towards being industrial in its approach. This set the tone for the first full album Alienators which was released the following year.
When Androids in the Mist were invited to perform their first live show at London’s famous music venue the Water Rats for 2018’s Synthetic City festival, Larry assembled a line-up of Wayne Leeves on Guitar and drummer Michael Evens, with all the electronics and synth bass on backing track. This well-formulated line-up remains the same today.
Since then, Larry has spent the past four years working on his album Enter Psychosis. The recording takes a harder rock approach, and it has a more of a live band feel about the tracks, with electronic drums being replaced by acoustic drums, and the guitars pushed forward in the mix. There’s a complex fusion of heavy synths, broody beats and an overall darker tone synonymous with artists like current Gary Numan, ’80s Sisters of Mercy circa Vision Thing, and acts like Nitzer Ebb and Front 242, making it the most highly anticipated Androids in the Mist release yet.
The album opens with the track Get High Get Low which has a dramatic, cinematic feel like a James Bond movie, which segues into Numan-esque vocals with heavy guitars and drums taking the fore, giving it classic Front 242 overtones. It’s not a track for the faint hearted, and I love this strong opening track.
We quickly move onto The River which flows like a raging torrent into Panic Over which was the pre-album single release and came out on 28 October 2022. Accompanied by remixes from KeX/1, Dicepeople, Brutalist Architecture in the Sun and La Lune Noire, it showcased different electronic styles from peer artists Larry greatly admires.
The next track is It Always Comes to This which offers a slight change of pace initially, and then builds into a strong ferocity which you can’t fail to fall into. Lyrically the song delivers “I told you so” elements, berating the subject of the song before we move onto the next number, the eponymously title track, followed by Lies and Saviours all of which capture the overriding, dark feel of the album.
Jake’s Ride has elements of ‘Sisters of Mercy meets New Model Army’ with a satisfying beat that carries you along the song’s journey, only for the mood to alter with the ironically-titled Closer than Enemies which is slower in pace but not in output, with a constant infectious marching rhythm delivered throughout the track.
The album finishes all too soon with Jaded Lines which is strongly reminiscent of the synth pioneers of the late 1970s, paying tribute to the kind of electronica which is close to Larry’s heart.
I caught up with Larry to find out a little more about Androids in the Mist, what makes them tick, and what their plans are for the immediate future.
So Larry, what’s planned for the next twelve months for Androids in the Mist?
I am hoping for some live shows around August. I plan to get the band together and perform in Hastings and in Brighton. I only usually play live a couple of times a year.
I’ll also be starting the next album around April. The single (see below) will be on that album. I’m also aiming to make the next one more electronic, with drum machines & synth basslines. I don’t want to make an Enter Psychosis (Part Two) but I’m really keen to do a ‘clean’ electronic record next time round.
Who are your influences?
My influences are very diverse. I love melody-driven songs, so I’ve always been a massive ABBA fan, believe it or not. Gary Numan is probably my biggest influence as I’ve been a fan of his since I was 11-years old, and the moment I heard Gary Numan I knew I wanted to create “darker” music.
I’m also really into NIN & Rammstein, and I love Soft Cell, and Depeche Mode. Modern day wise, I like artists like Royksopp.
What is your songwriting process? Music first or lyrics first?
The process for writing my music usually starts with a basic drum pattern, then the bassline, and it’s always the verse I start with, then I create a chorus. I have never written a song on a guitar or keyboard, I just create it as I go along. It’s more of an organic process!
I absolutely hate writing lyrics, and I always leave it last minute, usually a day before mixing in the studio! I’m even sometimes doing vocals on the day of mixing; it’s a very panicked process when it comes to lyrics and vocals. I write and record everything at home, including the vocals, and then I take them to GMM Audio which is Gary Meeks studio in Rye.
Do you plan to release any other tracks from Enter Psychosis as singles?
I’m writing a new song (not from Enter Psychosis) as a single around May/June. Kurt Sinclair-Hall (The Rude Awakening) is doing a remix of Jake’s Ride for the single, as it’s really his song and I covered it. There will also be a couple of remixes for this single, although I’m not sure who will be doing them. Dicepeople could be doing a remix if I ask them nicely!
Which is your favourite track on the album?
This is a tough question, as I genuinely love all the tracks on the album. But the one I tend to blast out most is Always Comes to This and the title track Enter Psychosis is another favourite.
What is your ‘guilty pleasure’ musically?
I’ve already mentioned ABBA but I also love the Bee Gees. This will surprise people, I’m sure. I listen to a lot of Madonna singles and her Ray of Light album is one of my favourite all-time albums. I think that Frozen is a stunning track.
I often play Enigma albums. A good example of an actual guilty pleasure song is Stay featuring Justin Bieber. I actually love a good pop song, and if it has a good melody I can get hooked easy no matter what genre it is, but generally I love my music on the darker and moodier side. But pop music can be good sometimes!
Thanks for talking to us Larry and good luck with the album.
❉ Released on Friday 3 February 2023, ‘Enter Psychosis’ by Androids in the Mist is available on all streaming platforms: Spotify – Androids In The Mist
❉ A lifelong lover of music and prominent contributor to Me and the Starman (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon), Ange Chan is a Freelance Writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry.
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