Inicio » Chronicles » Jean-Marc Lederman by Jean-Marc Lederman (2)

Jean-Marc Lederman by Jean-Marc Lederman (2)

by François Zappa

Today we are posting the second part of Jean-Marc Lederman’s memoirs in which he talks about his time with Gene Loves Jezebel and The The. We remind you that he also played with Fad Gadget and composed music for the great Alain Bashung. As a solo artist, he has recorded some really amazing instrumental albums and has also released fantastic albums such as 13 Ghost Stories and Letters To Gods in which he has collaborated with a great selection of singers. He is now part of the Rohn-Lederman duo who have released a couple of albums that you should listen to as soon as possible. He is also the label boss of Les Disques De La Pantoufle which has released the first Intrusive Pinky album and in May will appear the new Rohn-Lederman double album.


𝗞𝗮𝗿𝗺𝗮 𝗣𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 (𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀) 𝟭𝟵𝟴𝟬.

In 1980, there was one album that was 24/7 on my Lenco L75 turntable: The AssociatesThe Affectionate Punch. It was dramatic, exhilarating, educated, sophisticated, visionary and the singer was just amazing. In short, I just loved it and when I saw in Melody Maker that they were looking for a synth player and later playing some gig near London, I called up Peter Kent and asked him if he could lodge me for a couple of days.

I had stayed in contact with Peter Kent, and he even came to my place in Brussels with Peter Murphy (from Bauhaus) who slept in my mum’s bed (she was abroad at the time). I remember making Peter listen to a couple of demos, omg I’m still embarrassed today, they weren’t songs, they were just oh gee let’s forget about this please.

I called Peter Kent, told him about the gig. He hadn’t really heard about The Associates, except that they had an album out on Fiction Records. The gig was at Queen Elizabeth College, in Clapham. The weather was soooo bad, so rainy and cold that I asked Peter if he could also drive me to the place, so we went in his old comfy Rover. We arrived late, the concert had already started. There weren’t many people, and the room wasn’t packed at all. There are bands, they have a sound and let say they are great, and you like them. But there are bands whose music defies everything and are totally on their own, they have a sound that is unique to them.

And then, you have The Associates.

THAT voice! THAT music ! I could see that Peter was also totally charmed. I was like an animal caught at night in the lights of a car: stunned, I just couldn’t move. These cats were far, far beyond anything I could pretend to be, they were more than excellent musicians and there was no way they could be interested in me. After the gig, I very nervously approached Billy and we started talking. Or more to the point, he was speaking English with the thickest Scottish accent ever and my English really wasn’t good so the conversation was there, yes, but I just couldn’t translate anything, so I just nod my head for 20 minutes. It was the first time I encountered a Scot. Felt like if a drunken dutchman was talking to me, I couldn’t decipher one word. I didn’t even ask him about the musician position anyway: they were clearly out of my league. Peter could decipher them very well thank you and he signed them on his Situation 2 label a few months later. They went on to have some chart success later.

I saw Billy a few times later on, he had two beautiful ferrets and a lavish convertible Mercedes. He was a class act, gentle and sweet and when he was smiling you could see a portion of his soul going through his eyes. I saw Alan a few times later too and he actually went on to produce a (never released) song for a future project of mine (Kid Montana, in 1987). He did something I had never seen before, and I haven’t seen since: he would lay down a SMPTE code on the track, nothing abnormal there, but then he would count 36 bars and start working on a 32 bars section: the chorus. There, in the middle of the silence on the tape, suddenly, an oasis of music.

He wouldn’t work on that song the way a song installs itself in you: an intro, a couple of verses and then bang! the chorus, no, he would see that later, but first let’s do a killer chorus. That takes guts. I asked him why do you that ? He replied: a chorus needs to strike between 45 sec and 1 min. He was very concentrated but smiling. I mean, you would be smiling if you could play instruments like Alan: he was a Master. He played all instruments in that song (another version of Kid Montana‘s Love May Be Blind, more of that later). Sometimes, the world is soooo sooo small and you are just connecting or helping connect the dots. Peter would be an important part of my future in London as he gently introduced me to so many wonderful, or interesting, characters. He also told me to shut up and stop singing. I wouldn’t listen to him until 1985.

𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐞 𝐋𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐉𝐞𝐳𝐞𝐛𝐞𝐥 (𝟏𝟗𝟖𝟐)

Peter had Gene Loves Jezebel signed on its Situation 2 label and for some reasons he wanted me to join them. I still don’t know what a synthesizer would add to what was a very guitar-based band, but I immediately fell for JP Aston and Julianne Regan They were both fun and articulate and it felt good with them. I guess maybe Peter wanted me to try to inject a bit of discipline (I’m good at being organised).

Jay and his brother Michael lived in a flat that had closed curtains at all hours and they would only emerge early afternoon, just in time to go rehearse at Blackwing Studios, yes, the same place where Mute Records had some of its acts go and record (Depeche, Yazoo, Fad Gadget, Silicon Teens, etc…). We would rehearse twice a week for long 4 to 5 hours each time, so yes, we were tight although the songs had a tendency to evolve on their own, and that was good. Our sound was very anarchic, nearly tribal in some electric way and the two brothers wailing were the dome above it. The songs would also be regularly transformed, and we would take the intro of this one and put it with that one and the bridge of the other one would now serve as chorus for a fourth song… it was sometimes hard to keep up with the changes.

The twins were arguing most of the time and that was very annoying and was probably the main reason why Julianne (who was playing bass in GLJ) and myself left together one day after having play the Futurama 4 in Queensferry, North Wales. We were playing very low on the Sunday bill where The Damned was headlining. It was goth day for sure: Dead Or Alive, Southern Death Cult, Sex Gang Children (OMG, imagine having a band with that name now…), The March Violets. But while it looks like a great day, for a band being in the lower side of the bill it was very hard: you were thrown on stage with no balance and would sound terrible for most of your show and when the engineer would finally get your sound right, you had to get out and leave the band behind you going through more or less the same troubles…We went there in James’ milk van and although the trip was fun, it was a lot of hassle for little results.

But we had great times too, you know, when you are in a band at that age, you are so sure your mates and you are the best band ever and you’ll do great. Except the reality was different: none of us had any money but the twins were really poor. And what I thought was a nod to fashion, holes in their shoes, was in fact the sad reality. For me, coming from a middle-class background, and even though I was working in order to stay in London, it was like closing a door in my face: this town and this lifestyle can also eat you up.

But we had good days, like walking down Chelsea’s Kings Road on Wednesday’s afternoon, having a ciggie on a bench and taking the sun. There was also this place down Kings Road which had a record shop inside and Youth (from Killing Joke) was working there sometimes, and I was very surprised, and honoured, that he had the Kid Montana EP there and he loved it and played it often. A few months later, he would actually propose me to join his band Brilliant but, I don’t know, the offer didn’t follow through.

The twins were arguing constantly, and some days were worse than others. After a final rehearsal with some more arguments, Julianne and I left GLJ (who went on to have quite a career). In the future, I would work again with Jay (and Julianne) on several occasions and his guitar playing and his voice have grown to be more than excellent.

I loved that time with GLJ, it felt I was part of something great just waiting to happen.

𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘁 𝗝𝗼𝗵𝗻𝘀𝗼𝗻 “𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗧𝗵𝗲” 𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗾𝘂𝗲𝗲 (𝟭𝟵𝟴𝟯)

End of 1982, I met Fiona and Basia and Beverly and it was yet another totally different set of people and interests and discussions. These ladies were all into design, fashion and clubbing and it was exhilarating and fast and new and exciting. London was buzzing and we would go to the Batcave or The Fridge in Brixton or the Zig Zag Club or The Palace, all these places were filled with young people my age just pretending to be grown-ups and we were all devoured by the Love Of Life (yes, even as an introvert, one can love life). I remember in particular a great gig by Hunters and Collectors at The Palace.

Photo: Julianne Regan

I was also seeing Jo Murray, and her friend Sarah, who had been one of the very first Fad Gadget fans as she was travelling to see us play back in early 1980. And Amanda Watt, an Irish painter living in London at the time and who would do a couple of record covers with/for me later on.

So, there were all these clubs and occasions to see bands and it was quite a feeling to be able to talk to people our age that were on Top of The Pops and in the charts, it felt like “finally, good music in the charts” lol.

Fiona introduced me to her boyfriend, young Matt Johnson, who had an album out on 4AD as The The. Matt was very, very fun and playful, always in for a practical joke and a witty comment. Matt was always teasing me with my accent, and he was then chanting “Whaddis so romantic with Euuuurop'” (a line from my Kid Montana EP) while overkilling it with French resonance

Anyway, Matt was the talk of the town, and he had 4 dates lined up for a Thursday evening residence at The Marquee, the mythical Soho club. He called me and asked me if I wanted to come and play with him and a few friends and gave me the rehearsal room address. I was stunned, to be honest. When I arrived, there were Matt and Jim Thirlwell and Zeke Manyiaka and Thomas Leer (who incidentally also had a Jupiter 4, so we ended up using his on stage). So, I sat there and for 20 minutes or so Jim and Matt and Zeke were busy banging on huge petrol barrels, and it went on for ages and ages until I got a bit bored and asked Matt something like “maybe we should be rehearsing now, you know, just a thought ?”

So, the gig arrived, and I was in the `aggressive” part of the band (Matt had split the evening in two: aggressive and mellow and I was in the first part, with Jim). Matt gives us all a balaclava to wear when going on stage and we had that first night Marc Almond singing on the first song, Stephan Mallinder from Cabaret Voltaire came too. The gigs were very chaotic, especially the first part, but once a great song, always a great song and Matt totally delivered. It was great fun and quite an achievement I must say. We did that for four Thursdays, in March 1983. I did have a tear at the end of last Thursday, it was so cool to have been invited by Matt.

I would see Matt quite a few times later. He had bought the Garden studios (Ultravox, Siouxie, The Cure, etc…) and was once doing a spring cleaning, giving me in the process one of the silver discs given to the studio as Depeche Mode recorded Construction Time Again there.

Matt also had a soccer table installed and I was mortified when him and Johnny Marr beat me at what is a Belgian national sport. This is a call for revenge !

Matt and Fiona would come to my wedding with Erica Hinyot, an amazing painter and graphic artist, on September 26th, 1992.

London, 1984

𝘼𝙧𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙆𝙧𝙖𝙛𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙠, 𝘽𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙣 𝙀𝙣𝙤 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙁𝙚𝙡𝙖 𝙆𝙪𝙩𝙞 ? 𝙇𝙚𝙩’𝙨 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙢 𝙖 𝙗𝙖𝙣𝙙!

That was more or less the ad I had placed in Melody Maker, and I had absolutely NO answer, zilch, zero, nada, nill. But that didn’t faze me out to look for like-minded musicians who wanted to try something different. I thought it would have been interesting to mix these seemingly opposite feelings into one band: Eno‘s wild musical backgrounds and “amateur” feel with Kraftwerk‘s electronic sounds and rigid structures and Fela‘s grooves and political commentaries. But it seemed I was alone in that thinking or too “oblique” to be understood right.

There was a scene for new sounds in London in the early 80’s, no doubts about that, but there were still gatekeepers and an immense competition from everyone as there were thousands of bands but one could sure afford a living if playing live and getting a deal. But that was the thing: everyone knew everyone, you didn’t have the time for your band and your music to grow, the demos were heard by the same people all the time and anything that was 6 months old but without a deal was considered by all like a dead horse and it would feel like it would never succeed. The fact that you could have a drink with a fellow at the pub and the next day he would be on TOTP was a benediction doubled with a malediction: everyone could succeed AND EVERYONE WAS TRYING TO. I started to feel like Brussels (and Belgium) had a slower pace that could let bands and original music develop and grow while in London you always felt like someone was on a newer and more exciting musical way than the one you were on. But none of these thoughts stopped me from trying and hoping something could happen.

I even did crazy shit, like going to an audition for Roxy Music who were looking for a keyboard player. Oh, that was entertaining but gee, where did I get the idea, I could play for them ?

So, that day, I went down to Phil Manzanera‘s studio/home in Chertsey (Surrey), the Gallery where I’m welcomed by Ian Little who will in a few years produce Duran Duran‘s Seven And The Ragged Tiger. Ian was very nice, and we talked about diverse stuff and then we needed to get down to business and I explained to Ian what I do and what my experiences were. Ian looks at me and jumps into my CV and says “well, Jean-Marc, the last thing Bryan wants is another Brian in his band” and we both laughed and that was it. So, there ended up my time with Roxy Music

(They hired some unknown musician called Eddie Jobson, damn ! Joke, Eddie is an incredible musician and what the hell was I thinking going to the Gallery?).

I was also contacted by some guy who had connections in Japan and wanted to set up a boys band. I leave that thought sink in you for a few seconds.


𝗶𝗻 𝗮 𝗯𝗼𝘆𝘀 𝗯𝗮𝗻𝗱

𝗶𝗻 𝗝𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗻

I know, right? What was I thinking? Well, anyway, that didn’t last more than a couple of meetings, but it helped me get rid of juvenile acne as I ate nothing but grapes for a week (it works!) to try to look the part and be appealing enough.

Talking about Japan, I was asked by Haruko, I think, to interview none other than Sir Georges Martin at Air Studios for Japanese TV. I have no idea why I was asked but I diligently agreed and there I went, talking to one of the most important producers in the history of pop music. He was gentle, very articulate and very understandable that English wasn’t my mother tongue. We spoke for about 30 mins, and I would totally adore to see that reportage…I regret having been starstruck and not doing the best job at asking him the right questions. Recalling this, what I would ask him today would refer very probably more to the philosophy of music than the colour of the guitar John used in “Penny Lane”.

Why are we making music ?

Why does it feel so good when a song hits us hard, deep within?

How is it that us humans are so sensitive to harmonies built out of thin air?

What makes a melody a good melody, besides its capacity of making us whistle it later on?

Why oh why Polka?

But the truth is, London was starting to lose its glitter as I was slowly getting into working as a motorbike messenger (it’s a tiring and dangerous way of making a living) to afford staying here. Things were tougher, personally also, and going to see gigs and bands and meeting people was nice but the city started to weigh more and more on me.

And one day, while back in Brussels for a few days, I was introduced to Dudley Kludt, a charming, clever, funny young American guy with a splendid voice, an obvious star.

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More