Tag: Bill Leeb

DELERIUM Interview

DELERIUM are the moody new age offshoot of Canadian industrial duo FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY. Although the line-up has seen a number of changes since DELERIUM’s formation in 1987, there throughout has been Bill Leeb and apart from a short hiatus, Rhys Fulber.

Best known for their worldwide hit ‘Silence’ featuring the voice of Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, DELERIUM have continued to use a variety of female guest vocalists on their albums since.

Their new album ‘Signs’ features Kanga, Mimi Page, Phildel and Inna Walters among its cast to provide the aching beauty and romanticism over DELERIUM’s enveloping dark electronic ambience and compelling rhythmic lattice.

Bill Leeb kindly took time out from rehearsals for an imminent tour with MINISTRY and Gary Numan to chat to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the ‘Signs’ which DELERIUM followed in the making of their most recent opus…

The most recent album ‘Mythologie’ was in 2016, so how did you decide the time was right to return with DELERIUM?

Well, a lot has happened since 2016. A world pandemic which changed everything and affected the whole music world immensely. Everyone’s lives have changed since then, and with Rhys moving back to Canada from Los Angeles, we were able to reconnect, be in the same room and be inspired to create again. Time does fly…

Was DELERIUM originally conceived as an escape from the louder more bombastic nature of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY?

Yes, DELERIUM has always been an escape for the other side of my brain. I have always had a real love for ambient, world music inspired sounds, from TANGERINE DREAM to THE ORB to MASSIVE ATTACK and so on. It made sense to explore that side of my interest with an 8 track tape recorder in my room, so off I went into the dark blue yonder! When I started out, sampling was still it its infancy so the possibilities seemed endless, but all that has changed now as well. I think it’s important for artists to have different avenues to explore.

How does the creative dynamic between you both alter in DELERIUM away from FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY?

The fact that we bring in singers for DELERIUM who write the lyrics and add musical ideas as well changes the whole dynamic instantly. I do all that with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY so there is a pattern with DELERIUM working with all those different artists. There is a constant change of flow and ideas between us all and that dynamic is incredible at times because we all learn from each other as the ideas get developed.

‘Silence’ with Sarah McLachlan in all its various guises was an international success in 2000 and took a life of its own, so did you feel you had lost control of how DELERIUM was perceived at that point?

‘Silence’ changed our lives forever. I could write a book about it. It’s also hard to know where to start and end with it, because even as we speak, some brand mixes have just emerged that are also getting a lot of love. It has never stopped. The song was originally being mixed [in 1996] as an instrumental when the phone rang and it was Sarah, who said she had an idea for it.

So, we took a break, she came down, sang it twice and the rest is history. We were asked to be on ‘Top Of The Pops’ when the song hit number 3 on the UK chart, it went to number 1 in Ireland, and was also a huge hit in Belgium, Holland, Australia, a hit in Germany, the US and more. We have no control over it anymore and when you go on YouTube, the song has its own life and that’s it. Thank you, Sarah…

Technology moves fast as we know, so were there any technological developments that shaped the way you realised the music this time round compared with before?

Technology is insane and now with AI and voice recognition, musicians will start to become expandable. When we started there were no computers, everything had to be done manually and you had to be in the same room. There was no MIDI, just analog, so timing and tuning were a constant issue. Nowadays everything can be done on the digital highway worldwide. Adaptability is the key to everything in life and art. You wake up tomorrow and you are out of fashion, so the only thing you can really do and be in charge of is what you create and are happy with.

With the ethereal downtempo nature DELERIUM, the new album ‘Signs’ focusses again on female vocalists and voice samples, are there any particular reasons for this preference?

I have always wanted DELERIUM to be a spiritual-minded escape and adventure. The female voices help to create an ethereal ambience and vocal choir samples really lend themselves to the sound we are trying to create. That said, we have actually recorded the Leoni Men’s Choir in a church in Vancouver for a Gregorian chant sound, plus the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as well.

Phildel and Mimi Page return as vocalists after their featured turns on ‘Mythologie’, the former on ‘Coast to Coast’ while the latter has three tracks ‘Falling Back to You’, ‘Remember Love’ and ‘Absolution’; how you go about choosing a suitable vocalist and how collaborative is the process?

Once we create a track we try and envision the type of singer we would like and what their voice might be like. We have a wish list, of course, but it’s not always that easy. We have built a great rapport with Mimi and Phildel and love what they bring to the table. Mimi actually brings song demos as well, so this is also an amazing way to collaborate. We have worked with a lot of singers over the years and this has always helped keep this experience exciting.

How did you connect up with fellow Canadian Kanga, her track ‘In the Deep’ is both mystical and accessible?

Kanga has history with Rhys as he produced her first album and that counts for a lot in this world. I actually approached him with the idea of working with Kanga. She was very gracious working with us and spending time in the cold water for the video. I think the lyric has a very profound meaning for her as it pertains to a personal experience of hers.

‘Streetcar’ with Inna Walters has some quite immediate pop qualities, how did the song come together and develop?

I think ‘Streetcar’ is a fabulous track and I fell in love with it the very first time I heard it. Inna is from England and when Rhys brought that demo into our camp via his connections, I couldn’t wait to work on it. Yes, it’s a bit different from all our other tracks but I think it’s an important song on the album and is one of my favourites, for sure…

‘Esque’ is a beautiful moody mid-album set piece, what made you decide to keep it instrumental rather than add vocals?

We had versions of this track with and without vocals. The one without also had some different programming. I thought the album needed a bit of balance, so putting an instrumental track there made sense.

Photo by Eric ‘Rodent’ Chesiak

Another instrumental ‘The Astronomer’ has this haunting classic Gary Numan vibe about it in the synth string part?

Again, I love this track, which Rhys began. We were inspired by the soundtrack for ‘Stranger Things’. We loved that it had that retro Numan vibe, which I don’t think we have ever made anything like in the past. Rhys had also acquired a new drum machine which really lent itself to this sound… and we love new toys as well.

‘Glimmer’ featuring Emily Haines is perhaps the oddity on the album in that it was first issued in 2015 but existed sometime before that?

The original had only previously been on a rarities release. Sometimes you do things on impulse and we wanted to give the song more of a dub vibe. I guess that’s all part of being an artist, in that sometimes you do things because you were in the mood that day. In case you don’t know, Emily Haines is an important Canadian vocalist from the band METRIC.

Which are your own favourite tracks from ‘Mythologie’?

‘Blue Fires’, ‘Ritual’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Ghost Requiem’ are definite highlights for me, plus I adore the artwork.

What is next for you either as DELERIUM, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY or solo?

As FLA we are about to start a full US tour with Gary Numan and MINISTRY, immediately followed by mainland Europe for ten shows plus the WGT festival. In the fall we will play the Cold Waves Festival in Chicago plus a few other shows around that. As for DELERIUM, there will be a video for the new album song ‘Coast To Coast’ shot this month and we may also have remixes made in the near future. I am also working on a solo album for later in the year.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Bill Leeb

Special thanks to Gary Levermore at Red Sand PR

‘Signs’ is released by Metropolis Records as a double white vinyl LP, CD and download available direct from https://delerium-official.bandcamp.com/album/signs







Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
11th April 2023


Photo by Bobby Talamine

Bill Leeb is unimpressed with the Super Bowl half-time show. The best the NFL could muster for the break in the biggest game in the American sports season was MAROON 5, who showed twice as many nipples as Janet Jackson and a tenth of the melody of Taylor Swift.

We’re speaking the day after the event, but not about Tom Brady’s passing game. Leeb’s main band, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, has a new album to share.

‘Wake Up The Coma’, the latest from Canada’s electro-industrial pioneers, is loaded with energy and makes a number of surprising plays. We start by asking why FLA weren’t asked to do the half-time show.

Leeb: Because I don’t have enough tattoos. I gotta say, if I put a tattoo across my chest, stating Vancouver, that would be kind of a big statement.

On stage, Leeb is an imposing figure, even without his hometown etched into his skin. The former SKINNY PUPPY keyboardist prowls the boards with a shock of blond hair rising above him. When he points at the audience, you half expect lightning to take out the front row. He’s always drawn attention for his looks. When he moved to Canada as a teenager, the Austrian stood out.

Photo by Bobby Talamine

Leeb: The craziest thing is my first girlfriend in Vancouver, Debbie Jones, who is no longer with us, approached me at a nightclub because these guys were harassing her table. She asked if she could sit with me.  I used to get this question all the time, because of my hair: “Hey, are you in a band?” I think I’ve been asked that more than anything my entire life.

The meeting with Jones led to another important connection.

Leeb: We started chit-chatting, and the next thing you know she knew cEvin [Key] from SKINNY PUPPY. They met because Debbie and her cousin Donna were driving through a park, and cEvin pulled up in a black Monte Carlo with swivel seats. He rolled down the window and said, “Hey, do you guys want to smoke a joint?” Debbie said, “OK, yeah, sure.” There was also Gary [Smith] from Images in Vogue. So it all started with that group of people. When I think back now, it’s a bit like a movie how we all met up together.

With cEvin Key, Leeb struck up both a friendship and a friendly rivalry to find the latest obscure sounds from around the world. Their bible was the Contact List of Electronic Music (CLEM), an annotated directory of record stores and labels involved in the DIY tape and record scenes.

Leeb: One of the first things that got me going was a magazine called CLEM. That was one of our key influences. In there was all the PORTION CONTROL, ATTRITION and LUSTMORD. They had all the contacts, and you could write to all these people, and I think that was the big key for us. Me and cEvin being competitive, of course, we started writing to all these artists.

Back then, you could send an IRC [International Reply Coupon], which was a coupon you could buy at the post office that could be exchanged overseas for stamps. 

We started collecting cassettes from all these artists, and I still have lots of them. Me and cEvin would meet up, and it would be, “I’ve got a cassette from Edward Ka-Spel or In Phaze Records or PORTION CONTROL.” So, we started a bit of a collection war, and that’s how we got onto a lot of those artists.

Crate digging was the other way that the two friends found the sounds that connected them to the industrial and electronic scenes on the other side of the world.

 Leeb: Odyssey Imports and Quintessence Records were the two main stores in Vancouver which continuously, every week, brought in 12” vinyls from the UK and Germany. The UK pressings were better than those from anywhere else, so every Monday we would go down and wait to see what was going on. I remember cEvin turned me on to FAD GADGET. One day, he was standing beside me in the record store and he pulled out that album, Fireside Favourites, and said, “Have you heard this?” I go, “No.” And he says, “Great album – check it out!” And, of course, I became a huge FAD GADGET fan.

Still, Leeb gives a lot of credit to CLEM and its publisher, Alex Douglas.

Leeb: He was way ahead of the curve, as far all those bands. We got half of our contacts and info from that guy. That magazine was invaluable.

It was through CLEM and the underground cassette scene that Leeb became aware of Third Mind, a British label, and its guiding force, Gary Levermore. Third Mind would go on to release Front Line Assembly in the UK and organise shows for the innovative band.

Leeb: The thing that got me on to Gary was when he released Rising from the Red Sand. That was in CLEM magazine, and it had PORTION CONTROL, ATTRITION, BUSHIDO, LUSTMORD – it just went on and on. That was probably the best of the cassette compilations – song for song, that was probably the best one. 

Another great thing that me and cEvin used to do was stay up all night with our group of people, getting wasted and high, and we would find phone numbers for these artists. Come Sunday morning, we would call them. One time, we called PORTION CONTROL at three in the morning here – because the UK is eight hours ahead. Some guy would answer the phone, like Ian [Sharp of PORTION CONTROL], and be, “Hello?” 

We’d be, “Hey, this is cEvin and Bill. We really love your music.” I think they were taken aback that we would call them. It was a different time. You can’t do shit like that now. You’d probably send an email or something. 

It was a much bigger deal back then to get something like that – to get a cassette. I guess these guys over there, if you needed a cassette, they would just run one off.

One of Vancouver’s natural advantages is its permanent place on the North American tour map for interesting artists. Pity music fans from Winnipeg, who were in overflight territory for bands like SIMPLE MINDS and DEPECHE MODE.

Leeb: The crazy thing about DEPECHE MODE is I saw them the very first time they came to Canada, because Images in Vogue – cEvin’s band – opened for them at the Commodore. You know, cEvin and Gary and Joe had the latest and greatest stuff. They had all of that onstage and played. Then DEPECHE MODE, the original line-up, came onstage, and all they had was one keyboard – a small one – and they had an 8-track on the chair behind them. No visuals – that was it. When I think that I saw them last year at the Rogers Arena in front of 80,000 people…

At the first show, there were maybe only 400 people there, and they were up there with only one keyboard. We laughed then, because Images had all the gear and those guys didn’t, but who knew that they were going to be as massive as they were? Who puts a tape player on a chair behind them? But people were different back then.

That isn’t to say that everyone was open to the harder, darker electronics that Leeb and his friends were getting into.

Leeb: I was with cEvin the night he went to Images in Vogue’s manager and said, “I’m leaving the band and starting a new band called SKINNY PUPPY.” Kim Clarke Champniss was the manager of Images, and he was basically telling cEvin, “You’re crazy! Images is on a major; they’ve opened for Roxy and Duran – and you’re going to start a band called SKINNY PUPPY?! Are you crazy?” I was there just for support. And I think SKINNY PUPPY turned out to be ok, right?

The first support for their new approach came from the country that was producing many of the artists Leeb and Key had been discovering – England.

Leeb: For the very first review we got with SKINNY PUPPY – for Remission – me and cEvin went down to Odyssey Imports. There was a guy in Sounds [one of the weekly music tabloids from the UK] called Dave Henderson who ran a weekly thing called Wild Planet – he was another forerunner, encouraging those bands. He wrote a review, and we were walking down the street with it. It said, ”From the land of Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot, there is a new electronic band by the name of SKINNY PUPPY. Who do these guys think they are?”

 cEvin was so excited about this guy acknowledging us and saying he liked the album Remission. We’re reading this as we’re storming down the street, and he’s like, ”Bill, look – someone in the UK knows who SKINNY PUPPY is!” Henderson called us all the Wild Planet bands. It was another key factor in this movement, way in the very early days.

Once he was touring with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, Leeb got to know some of those bands better.

Leeb: We toured with PORTION CONTROL and did remixes with them. We became friends with Edward Ka-Spel and he and cEvin did THE TEAR GARDEN. Debbie Jones actually went out with Edward for a while – the girl who had brought us all together. Me and Gary Levermore have been really good friends. All those early tours we did through his label in Europe – we became a huge family. It was quite a movement for quite a while – thirty years.

The influence of those cassette-trading pioneers is still being felt.

Leeb: It spawned the things like, in Europe, the M’era Luna festival and Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival –  Amphi. Every band there – whether AND ONE or COVENANT, any of these bands – got their cue from that movement. Not just us, but the whole movement.

Half the bands that are industrial still sound like SKINNY PUPPY or were motivated by that sound. We were motivated by PORTION CONTROL with that distorted, angry vocal – I’d never heard anyone do that before! People were so brainwashed with rock and roll back then. If you think about the whole Gothic world, our world had a lot to do with bringing that forward.

Of course, you had your German bands like DAF – another groundbreaker. FRONT 242 were there, too. They came along during the early SKINNY PUPPY days. That all created a healthy, thriving world in itself. It maybe wasn’t as big as hip hop, but still… NINE INCH NAILS opened for SKINNY PUPPY when it was just Trent for a while and he’s kind of done ok, right? The whole Marilyn Manson thing. It’s spawned a couple of decades of music and it’s still going strong in its own way. It’s still an alternative to all that other stuff, like MAROON 5. It’s so narcissistic, all that world of new popstars now: half the day at the gym; half the day at the tattoo parlour. It’s a whole different mindset.

‘Wake Up The Coma’ features several collaborations. A notable one ‘Eye On You’ with Robert Görl of DAF, opens the album.

Leeb: We met at M’era Luna and another festival. We all hung out backstage, and I kind of hunted him down. One time, they played right after us and we were hanging out backstage, waiting to change, and I just started talking to him. I was such a huge fan, and the first couple of DAF albums were groundbreaking – kind of like the whole Mute and DEPECHE MODE world. We just started chatting in German, and he’s a super nice guy, and next thing you know we were doing the track.

We were going to get him to sing on the song, but he had some things he had to deal with at the time and we couldn’t get it all together – but that was a good start. 

If I think back to twenty five years ago, that I would actually get to do a track with someone like him – I would have thought was far-fetched. That was kind of cool for me. A final thing, as we fade into the future mist.

”David Bowie” even makes a surprise appearance on the last track ‘Structures’.

Leeb: I asked Chris [Connelly], because he does that SONS OF THE SILENT AGE. It’s very popular. They do a couple of Bowie albums every year. I asked him to use that approach to a song. When we did that tour with REVOLTING COCKS in America, it was such a success. Every show sold out. We became really good friends with Richard 23 and Chris and Paul Barker. It was a very fun tour, and everyone was very professional and friendly, so I took the liberty to ask Chris when we became friends and he agreed [snaps fingers] just like that.

The song that will make or break the album might actually be a cover. FLA’s version of Falco’s ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ will surprise a lot of fans with its audacity. It’s not an obvious choice; but, infused with intensity by Rhys Fulber’s programming, and shorn of the wigs and powder of the original, it could be a cross-over hit. They have had those before in their DELERIUM guise.

Leeb: I thought that, having been born and raised in Austria, and being Austrian, there was enough of a connection to do that song. I felt like something foreign and I like classical music, so I hope that the Mayor of Vienna gives me the key to the city and that song gets on Viva rotation. I’m curious to see how much hate and love we get over it. Rhys is loving it. He’s like, “Everyone is going to hate it!” Well, ok, that’s cool. When you hear the original and ours, they are quite different. Jimmy [Urine] is the king of irony. The way he does the song has a hint of humour in it. In the studio, he had it in two or three takes – in German!

Even with covers and collaborations, ‘Wake Up The Coma’ hangs together incredibly well. It’s a mature, sophisticated FLA release. The unifying theme, if there is one, is contact.

Leeb: Jeremy [Inkel] sent me some demos, and the day after he passed away we were supposed to speak. After ‘Echogenetic’, Rhys was back in the picture. It was so crazy, and we put this record together with bits and pieces of these guys. I made new friends with Robert and Chris. Three of the songs came from Ian Pickering. ‘Wake Up The Coma’ was from one of his songs. He was the guy who wrote a bunch of lyrics for SNEAKER PIMPS. We became friends with him through somebody else.

‘Wake Up The Coma’ is with the guy from PARADISE LOST [Nick Holmes]; he does the vocals. Rhys produced a couple of PARADISE LOST albums and they became good friends. It was a weird, big, crazy thing. Rhys summed it up, with all the craziness and Jeremy’s passing: “I guess we’re a real band now.”

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Bill Leeb

Special thanks to Gary Levermore at Red Sand PR

‘Wake Up The Coma’ is released by Metropolis Records, in double vinyl LP, CD and digital formats, available from https://frontlineassembly.bandcamp.com/






Text and Interview by Simon Helm
Photos by Simon Helm except where credited
16th February 2019


When Bill Leeb left SKINNY PUPPY to form FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, back in 1986, it seemed that he was jumping the ship everyone wanted to be on.

The Vancouver-based band were rising with a post-punk tide that combined synthesizers, hard rhythms and splatter movie images.

It was a counterpoint to the commercial sounds that filled the airwaves of the period.

Their popularity had helped Nettwerk Records get a distribution deal with a major label in the US, while the band were signed to a powerful independent in Europe. It wasn’t enough for Leeb. He wanted to sing. He wanted to shape songs that were powerful electro-industrial statements, but he also wanted the freedom to create ambient trance.

Starting with a cassette recorder in his bedroom, Leeb created FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY to do the former. He also found success with the latter as DELIRIUM. In between, he’s launched or taken part in dozens of projects. Most recently, he collaborated with John Fryer’s BLACK NEEDLE NOISE project.

Promiscuous as he is, artistically, FLA remains Leeb’s musical spine. He formed the band under the spell of early PORTION CONTROL, SPK and LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, and their industrial influences continue to resonate.

Locked in a hall in London, with long-time collaborator Rhys Fulber on keyboards, the FLA atmosphere comes less from the drifting clouds of stage smoke than the rhythms of the city outside.

The blips of computers and the pumping of valves are core elements of the FLA sound. The flow of data and people needs machines, and the pace of machines causes anxiety. Heavy beats are a sonic tonic for this state, and FLA are an efficient delivery mechanism.

Leeb strides the stage with a shock of blond hair rising from his head that seems to be made of high tensile wire. The opening songs, ‘The Chair’ and ‘Resist’, first appeared on FLA’s 1990 album, ‘Caustic Grip’, and the intervening three decades have done nothing to soften their impact. “Resist the command!” instructs Leeb, and a heaving crowd submits to the rhythm without irony.

‘Killing Ground’ follows, taken from 2013’s critically acclaimed album, ‘Echogenetic’. Fulber didn’t appear on that album, but he did remix the track, and he seems at home with the material. From behind his bank of keyboards, he fixes a serious face for the set, but keeping the needle in the groove at this pace is no smiling matter.

The set includes more songs from ‘Echogenetic’, including ‘Exhale’ and ‘Deadened’, but the balance is weighted towards FLA’s 1990s output. It is an electronic bookend to FLA’s catalogue, leaving out the guitars of their millennial recordings.

Live drumming intensifies the rhythms, rather than presenting Eigner-like intrusions, and the endorphin levels match the sound man’s VU meter.

The show nearly ends with an excellent encore of ‘Mindphaser’, but FLA won’t be released by the audience. The show can’t finish until the blond giant and his bearded keyboardist have returned to ‘Caustic Grip’ for a blistering turn of ‘Iceolate’, as fierce and innovative as it sounded on its initial release.

Special thanks to Gary Levermore at Red Sand PR

2017 North American Tour includes:

Los Angeles The Regent (10th November), Seattle El Corazon (11th November), San Francisco Mezzanine (12th November), Dallas Gas Monkey (14th November), Austin Elysium (15th November), Denver Summit Music Hall (16th November), Chicago Metro (17th November), New York Gramercy Theatre (18th November), Toronto Danforth Music Hall (19th November)






Text and Photos by Simon Helm
28th August 2017