About the Sex Drugs & HIV project
I started the Sex Drugs and HIV project in 1995 when I decided to record a charity album involving many of my friends and musicians that I'd met on the road. I had the idea to record an album with different musicians on each track, it originally was only meant to be 1 album but the project grew and more & more people wanted to get involved so it is now a double CD, 40 songs, 20 songs on each album which all join up together. The first recording session was 6th November 1995 and after 15 years, many recording sessions and 215 musicians later the album was finished.
Diagnosed with HIV in 1989, I wanted to bring awareness to the stigma surrounding HIV & AIDS and to what it was like being diagnosed with HIV as a teenage boy. The doctors had given me around 5 years to live when I was diagnosed so I really didn't think I had long to live when I started to record the big music project. I had a catalogue of songs that I'd written over the years with various styles and these became the template for the Sex Drugs and HIV album.
Inspired by Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells album I wanted to join all the songs together so the album was a continuous piece of music. With no gaps between the songs the dynamics of the album take you on a musical journey.
Most of the album was recorded at Dave Goodman’s 'Mandala Studios' in Gipsy Hill, London. Dave was known for his work with the Sex Pistols as their sound man, producing 'Spunk' and 'The Great Rock n Roll Swindle' albums. I'd worked with Dave before when he produced two Chelsea albums I'd played on, also two Splodge albums. I liked the way Dave worked in the studio, we were close buddies and Dave believed in my crazy idea to record an album with over 200 musicians.
I booked Dave's studio for a month and planned on having all the drummers in the first week, guitarists & bass players in the 2nd & 3rd week and the vocalists in the last week. It kind of worked out quite well and people were in & out of the studio all day & night, sometimes 7 different musicians a day. The album was like a huge jigsaw, filling in spaces with various musicians like a musical collage with many different styles including rock, pop, ska, punk, reggae, rockabilly, heavy metal, funky, R&B, new age, country. Six months after the 1st recording session I booked the studio for another month and recorded another load of musicians.
One of the highlights of the project has to be Max Splodge's trombone solo on the song '667 The Neighbour Of The Beast', it's hilarious, he'd never played a trombone before but insisted the track needed a trombone solo. Max also played trombone on the title track for the album Sex Drugs And HIV, written by Darrell Bath (UK Subs / Dogs D'amour / Crybabys) and Honest John Plain (The Boys / Crybabys). I didn't want to write the title track for the project so I asked Darrell. I also collaborated with musicians on some of the songs for the project, writing songs with: Brian Robertson (Thin Lizzy / Motorhead), Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), Dick Lukas (Citizen Fish / Subhumans), Paul Fenech (Meteors), Micky Fitz (The Business), Frankie Stubbs (Leatherface), Roly Wynne (Ozric Tentacles), Poly Styrene (X Ray Spex), Darren White (The Blood Divine), Chris Bowsher (RDF), Jennie Matthias (The Belle Stars), Jimmy Pursey (Sham 69), Mark E Smith (The Fall), Lee Thompson (Madness), Judge Dread, Angie Bowie, and Afrika Bambaataa
The entire project was filmed by Mat Sunderland, Dublin Joe and my son Alex Sargent. Each song on the album has a 25 minute documentary which shows various musicians meeting, chatting & telling stories around the kitchen table, how the songs came together and shows the musicians playing their parts on the album. I spent 10 years back & forth from Germany trawling through the 150 hours of footage, where my friend Manni Kusters taught me how to use the editing machines. The early sessions were filmed on HI8 tape and DV tape so it was all converted to digital, as were all the audio masters for the album.
A Change of Studio
When Dave Goodman died in 2005 I looked for a studio to finish off the project and discovered Panther Studios which was owned by Dick Crippen, ex bass player with Tenpole Tudor and King Kurt. Dick had played bass on one of the tracks for the HIV project some 10 years before and ironically was the same track that Dave Goodman had played on (Cigarette In The Ashtray).
Dick helped me finish off the jigsaw and some new tracks were recorded at Panther to complete the project of 40 songs. Dick is great to work with, he knows how I work which is sometimes relentless but he understood how important it was for me to me to get things right. I finished all the recordings on 16th May 2011, it was 15 years in the making (almost to the day). I mastered the albums at Abbey Road with Dick in October 2011