I see a lot of cassettes, the main medium in the far times when you started with ADN: you still have all the first issues, including Merzbow and Pascal Comelade’s debuts? I tried to find them somewhere but I failed… are the ADN releases stored in some other spot?
Yes, we started with the cassette of Masami Akita that Alberto Crosta and myself met in 1983 during our Japan trip. Cassettes were an economical way to produce music and gave us the opportunity to make a lot of swaps with other musicians and cassette labels around the world. Masami was a very nice person, even he didn’t speak a word of English. That’s why he came to the meeting with a young girl who translated. We met twice in Tokyo and the second time, after having introduced us to K.K. Null, he brought us the cassette that became the first official release of ADN. By the way, K. K. Null played his noisy guitar for us in a 3 m x 2 m room, quite a unique experience. Yes, I still have one copy of all ADN releases but only recently I’ve put them together since they were lying around in different spots.
Your label has crossed many eras, but it’s still here, after some hiatus and some turnover… each time you tell me about the history of ADN some further detail emerges. I have the impression that ADN has been, and still is, a weird team of weird good friends. Can you tell me in a few words about it and the people involved?
ADN was born in the eighties following the idea of homemade music and fanzines. This concept that originates from the British Punk movement affected also the industrial music scene and our label extended it to all the music we liked at the time. In reality the original nucleus of ADN was my cousin Rudi Pavesi and myself who started creating the fanzine “L’Amore del Nipote” in the Italian language. Rudi (who is younger than me) was living nearby and we had the same musical interests and used to go to the same concerts together. We also often went to the “Sinigaglia Fair” of Milano where we used to trade the records we didn’t like with other young boys who were there for the same reason. This was an activity we made every Saturday afternoon besides going through many record shops looking for new records. During these tours we knew Alberto Crosta and Marco Veronesi who later joined ADN. In 1979 Rudi and I went to the Rock in Opposition concert in Milano where we knew Danilo Sala who is since a very good friend and stepped in in 2014 when we restarted ADN. Yes you may define us a heterogeneous group of frustrated listeners!
My eyes pop randomly among all these handmade (are they handmade?) cassette covers: What are “New 7th Music Modella” and others in the same series? And what about the one with nice tits (“Sprung Haus Den Bloken – Cut it!” or something like that, sorry I can’t properly read the writing!).
Yes, many are handmade as our Merzbow cassette. At the time many cassette labels and musicians tried to make original cassettes also under the visual aspect. New 7th Music is a British group that made a cassette with us, they performed improvised music which was quite original at the time and they made a lot of cassettes. The other cassette is Sprung aus der Wolken is a group of Berlin who started with Einstuerzende Neubauten in the 80’s. One of the original members is Alexander Hacke who is a permanent member of Einsturzende. We were in Berlin during that period and we bought and swapped many cassettes including the ones of Einsturzende Neubauten.
Cool! I’ve Just interviewed Alex Hacke for Concrete Shelves. I also see the Tasaday box that Wallace Records published years ago. I met them many times, as I was living in Brianza, where they are located. Could you tell me more about your meeting with those amazing guys?
Well, Tasaday was the “House Group” of ADN, Alberto and I met them in 1983 at their concert at the “Viridis” of San Giuliano Milanese. We were impressed by the quality of their proposal and they were looking for someone who could broaden their horizons. So we started a friendship and a musical collaboration that lasted for a long period. We started distributing their 2 first cassettes under the name Nulla Iperreale and Die Form & Nulla Iperreale and produced our and their first LP “Aprirsi nel Silenzio” another cassette “Riflessi Sensibili“ and the LP “L’Eterna Risata”. My brother Andrea even started to do a film with them that aborted after the first weeks of filming. They ended the first part of their musical path just around the same period as we interrupted ours even there is no relation between these two circumstances.
I see a Henry Cow cassette… so this brings my mind to Chris Cutler and the adventure of Recommended Records. Can you tell me more about how this has started?
Alberto and I were great supporters of the Rock in Opposition movement since 1979 when we had the pleasure to see live Art Zoyd, Aqsak Maboul, Art Bears, Etron Fou, Univers Zero and Sammla Mammas Manna at the Teatro dell’Elfo in Milan during the Rock in Opposition Festival. At the time the Italian branch of the movement was Stormy Six and the “Cooperativa l’Orchestra” that produced and distributed the related records in Italy. In 1985 l’Orchestra had ended its activities and I met Chris Cutler in Milano thanks to Franco Fabbri of Stormy Six. We stayed together for one afternoon moving around (I even brought him to buy good Italian wine). When I asked him if we could be “Recommended Records Italia” he just said “No problem”. So we started our non-industrial line “Auf dem Nil” that was also “Recommended Records Italia”.
As far as I can understand what you say, the story of ADN is a story of meetings of people. You travelled a lot, and you hosted many musicians in Milan, supporting them in playing here, or going to their concerts and then building a friendship. How much do you think is or has been important to live in this specific city, whose name seems to come from the Latin “Mediolanum” as “land in the middle”, so a place that is easily reachable, or from whom you can go and visit other parts of the world?
Well Milano is my town, so I like it here. At the time, not having internet to communicate, Milano was surely the place in Italy where you could meet more alternative artists coming from abroad. Nowadays I think that the alternative circuit is not so concentrated in our town, but also small centres have a lot of good concerts. The other peculiarity of Milano and surroundings is that there were quite a lot of interesting artists and musicians and that’s important for our label.
One last thing: who are the Plastic People of The Universe? I’ve never heard of them…
The Plastic People are a Czech group that did clandestine concerts during the communist regime and that all ended up at a certain point because they joined the Charta 77. On the other hand, they made the settlement concert of President Vlacav Havel. Musically, they are sort of rock with Czech singing. The current line up has lost almost all the old members.
Born in Milano 1953 with a South-Tyrolean Grandmother, Piero Bielli studied at the Swiss School in Milano and had an intense activity as Tour leader around the seventies. He was one of the founder members of ADN label in 1983. He likes travelling around the world, Belgian beers, cooking, art, films (another way to travel around), photography and obviously out of standard music.
His musical myths are Can, Faust, Henry Cow, Plastic People of The Universe and Magma.