HAIRCUT 100: Day 35, No. 35. Andrew Eldritch: Singer/songwriter; frontman, founding and last original member of The Sisters of Mercy, who I’ve just found out are playing in my hometown this fall. The Sisters were one of the defining rock bands of my mis-spent youth, with a sound at once heavy, psychedelic and utterly haunting. The key studio albums are First and Last and Always (1985), Floodland (1987), and Vision Thing (1990), the latter of which accompanied me to university. I last saw them live about ten years ago, and I rate that evening as one of the most amazing gigs I’ve ever attended. That I now get to share this experience with my lovely wife is very cool. Anyway, the man behind Doktor Avalanche, Eldritch is a gothic icon who detests the label ‘Goth’ and describes his work as ‘Modernist.’ He studied French and German literature at Oxford before moving to the University of Leeds to study Mandarin Chinese, dropping out in favour of drumming in the Leeds punk scene of 1978, forming The Sisters of Mercy (named from the song by Leonard Cohen) with guitarist Gary Marx in 1979. He speaks French and German fluently and is not too shabby at Dutch, Italian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Latin, but now admits the Mandarin is rusty. His distinctive lyrical style is heavily influenced by T.S. Eliot, Leonard Cohen and Shakespeare, while his legendary live cover of ‘Sugar Baby Love’ by The Rubettes brings a dark, erotic charge to the song that we never suspected all those years ago on Top of the Pops. The band has gone through many line-ups, the unifying factor being their charismatic singer. While there has been no new material recorded since 1993, they have toured consistently and independently since reviving in 1996 to support The Sex Pistols. ‘I have no musical talent at all. I was banned from music classes and told I would never be able to understand anything. I still don’t think I can sing, but somehow I get away with it.’ Utterly bastard groovy.
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