In the cannon of American 80s synthesizer music the debut album by Boston’s Jeff and Jane Hudson stands as one of our greatest achievements. 30 years later Dark Entries sits down with Jeff and Jane to discuss their history and future.
Dark Entries: Both of you are originally from Massachusetts, what music were you listening to during your teenage years?
Jeff & Jane: Psychedelic ’60’s and some jazz.
DE: What was college in Boston like during the 70s? How did you the two of you first meet?
JJ: Our experience was very arty, and bursting with new technology. We met in a loft building in Boston where we were living.
DE: How did you meet Pseudo Carol and form your first band, The Rentals?
JJ: Carol took Video classes with us, and was really funny and talented. She made little steel guitars and printed etchings of them. We had traveled to Europe in the summer of ’77 and saw the Sex Pistols on TV and went to punk clubs. We decided then to form a band. Carol learned to play the drums. She also played guitar and sang in the band (I Got a Crush On You, Rentals, Beggars Banquet Records).
DE: What led to the two of you breaking off and becoming The Manhattan Project?
JJ: Carol went on to pursue a solo career. The Manhattan Project had a very short, 6-month run, and then we split from the other guys. We played a few dates in New York, Boston and Philly.
DE: Why did you choose to become a duo?
JJ: We were starting the electronic experiment and wanted to work alone.
DE: How did you meet Charles Ball from Lust/Unlust Records? Did he play a role in your sound/recording techniques?
JJ: We first met him at either Tier 3 or the Mudd Club. He liked that we were an electronic duo. He played Jeff a cassette of DAF. At Sorcerer Sound in NY, Charles worked with us on “Cat Scan”. Jane recorded piano parts many times!
DE: Do you remember the set up and equipment for recording your earliest songs?
JJ: For the World Trade EP and No Clubs 7”: Akai 2track, 1/4 inch tape deck with which you could bounce tracks, Roland Compu-rhythm drum machine, Moog prodigy, Roland string/organ, Roland echo, guitar. For the Flesh LP and Special World 7”: Teac 4-track tape deck, Juno 60, TR-808, Sequential Circuits Pro 1, Roland echo, Gibson SG guitar.
DE: How did the evolution of the synthesizer in early 1980s have an effect on your sound?
JJ: The first time we heard it we loved it, the Beach Boys used a Theramin, then Soft Cell, Human League, Front 242, Suicide. Love the throbbing electronic pulse.
DE: What were some inspirations for your lyrics over the years?
JJ: Jeff like politics, oil and war, drugs and nightlife, Jane likes culture and psychology
DE: Who were your musical contemporaries at the time in New York, Boston or around the world?
JJ: Suicide, Contortions, Human Sexual Response
DE: So much creative and diverse music came out of New York in the early 1980s, what do you think caused this rich and talented culture?
JJ: Fertile downtown experimental culture. Credit to Mudd Club for interesting programming. Jim Fouratt helped a lot of bands at Hurrah’s and Danceteria.
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DE: “Flesh” is considered a landmark album in the 80s American DIY synth movement. How did you create your unique sound?
JJ: Coming to it enthusiastically, and to approach the mystery of the new artistically which was embedded in the electronic instruments. The sounds have emotion and meaning.
DE: Can you tell us about the album cover for “Flesh” and how you met the photographer Mark Morrisroe?
JJ: Mark Morrisroe was a student of ours and an occasional featured artist with the Rentals. He was a photographer even then, and took the picture of Malcolm Travis, drummer for Human Sexual Response. That photo is the cover of Flesh
DE: Can you describe your most memorable/favorite live gig?
JJ: Gigs at Spit in Boston through Tony V with the full 5-piece band and enthusiastic crowds. Aside from opening for the Clash as The Rentals, Jeff and Jane opened for Siouxsie and the Banshees, Contortions, Duran Duran, PIL (Ritz riot!), Suicide.
DE: I read that Jane teaches video technology and media theory and Jeff directed music videos, did Jeff & Jane ever have visual projections while performing live in the 80s?
JJ: We did have video projections early on. The gig with PIL at the Ritz featured backing videos/audio with just the two of us on stage with a Casio keyboard and a Synare electronic drum. After that we always used backing videos.
DE: How do you feel about the renewed interest in your music and newer bands that look to Jeff and Jane Hudson for inspiration?
JJ: We’re flattered! It’s nice to be recognized.
DE: Jeff and Jane released “Burn” on CD in 2002 and played a few gigs, what are your future plans?
JJ: We’re going to gig as a duo in New York and Boston occasionally for a couple of years.