Patrick Leagas – “Digging a hole until I was almost out of sight was one such weird pastime I used to break my malady, digging to exhaustion and beyond, one of Gurdjeff’s techniques”

Patrick Leagas of Sixth Comm (1).jpg

It’s funny to guess the mess that might surround these objects, I’m fascinated by the trumpet that lies on top of the CDs, the flugelhorns around and the skull (maybe a knife? such as the ones that Lemmy of Motorhead collects?) Could you tell me about these objects? I also wonder about the frame on the back with the flags!

They are the trumpets and bugles that I have used on many occasions over the decades, on early Death in June tracks and as recently as the Schrage Music & Godlesstate albums. The trumpet standing to the right, behind the Britten folksongs record, was actually used during WW1, then passed on to my father who played it as a boy soldier when he joined the army in 1932. It’s one of the few possessions I have from my father who died when I was in my early teens. He very occasionally used to play all the old army and cavalry calls, which in those days (the 1930s) were used to control all aspects of military life in barracks and on the battlefield. That was of course before the advent of good radio communications.

He had a very good and unusual over pronounced vibrato I recall, which was very much a technique used by military trumpeters and bugler’s back then. In the early 70s it became my turn to continue the tradition when I played both bugle and side drum in the Army cadet force at the age of thirteen. Somehow I don’t think that my daughters will continue the tradition.

The little skull you can see laying on its side is something I made. It is actually the handle of a heavy drum beater/stick. I do have a collection of rather odd, barbaric and ominous objects but I don’t collect Third Reich objects as a rule. I think that Lemmy had just a little more financial success than I did with music with which to indulge in his naughty gene. If I had that sort of access to money I would have disappeared into the wilderness somewhere and not spent my time leering at Nazi objects through a haze of alcohol, though very ascetically pleasing that they are in some respects.

Unpop by Bourbounese Qualk

My eyes fell on one of my favourite albums ever, “Unpop” by Bourbonese Qualk of my friend Simon Crab. At a first sight, it’s the only concession to the so-called ‘industrial’ music I see in your photos. Something that Simon has taken distance from, as many others.

One of the very few CD’s from the 90’s that I have kept. The others either binned, sold on eBay or given to my daughters. To be perfectly honest I don’t know who Simon Crab is or anything else about the band. I could google it I supposed but I won’t. The album was given to me by Robert King, the label owner. I think that I was distributing, on a small scale, one of the labels titles. I can’t even remember the year but I will guess between 1992 – 5? You will know more about this album than me. I haven’t played it for years but it’s one of those totally underrated and under recognised albums in my humble opinion. It’s just a really fine mixture of post industrial, ethnic, soundtrack with a little punk attitude at times. It just works and I like it a lot! At that time I was working under the name of Mother Destruction, I guess that that some of the atmospheres and instrumentation was not too dissimilar in some respects. This album will remain in my diminishing collection.

I see other very interesting CDs, such as Gurdjieff ones: could you tell me about then? Are you interested also in his techniques about consciousness and all?

I collected the music from Gurdjieff because I collected both publications by and other works about him. The music in itself has a certain quality of space and pace, meditative in general. A lot of the music was either written for solo piano or that is the way it is mostly presented. When his music is presented by more traditional players of string, wind & percussive instruments of Eastern European or Middle Eastern origin, then it really comes alive in beauty and soul.

I would say that I was, in the past, interested in his techniques of self awareness and his teachings at one period in my life. In retrospect his techniques, especially that of self remembering, are flawed in my view and unattainable in the normal processes of life. For those people who may read this and who have no knowledge of Gurdjeff or his associates like Ouspensky but who are interested in the obvious like Crowley or the overrated charlatan (in her proposals about the Aryan, superman theories) but interesting Blavatsky, check Gurdjeff out, you might find something of interest.

The most important part of his teaching for me, which didn’t exactly teach me anything but affirmed something that I had already discovered, was his use of extreme physical hard work to change the balance of chemicals in ones body and brain. Gurdjieff often used to teach/heal people in those days who suffered with what they would have called maladies of the mind. We would now call maladies of the mind depression and various other aspects of mental health. He would often have them perform extremely arduous and soul destroying task’s, which to my mind acted as a stimulus to change the endorphin levels and other chemical within the body and brain perhaps causing euphoria or a change in perception or alleviate depression, though the chemical process was not know at the time as far as I can recall. This would work especially well for the upper classes, who were Gurdjieff’s normal cash cows, as they would be entirely unused to physical work of this kind to the extreme. As a child I suffered greatly from psychosis from an early age, which subsided mostly by my late teens. This not only all but ruined my school life in some respects but very much moulded me into the difficult personality that I have. I recently discussed that period of my life with my partner Gaya Donadio and my sister who was tasked to look after me during my disturbances when my mother was unable. My sister described it to us as ‘the horror’s’: “Patrick has the horror’s again”. Digging a hole until I was almost out of sight in my mothers garden was one such weird pastime I used to break my malady, digging to exhaustion and beyond, one of Gurdjieff’s techniques. Later in my early to mid twenties, though normally a rather sedentary person, that is a person who preferred to climb trees and hide in the woods rather than play football or sport’s, I began to run and run and run to total exhaustion and I began to look to other pastimes like hillwalking, mountaineering and the military, addicted to anything that would challenge myself and give me a sense of being alive, rather than the possibility of the of going back into that sensory despair and the fear of it, if it were to return again as a regular torture. Those pastimes, by and large, took up most of my time during the 80’s, the period when I am perceived to be a musician, when in fact I was everything but. I was then and still am a musical hobbyist. I have been lucky to have been recognised for my sporadic musical outbursts. By the time I reached my mid to late teens, the time of punk, I really started to have an interest in the possibility of making music. Though punk only lasted in my opinion a year or two maximum, the most important aspect of it to me was that it showed that a non-musical person could participate and create music or sound. In the previous decades of early 70’s and 60’s it was very much the case that you had to develop a proficiency with an instrument to be considered by others to be part of a collective, a band. Luckily now for myself and many others, we were now able to express our non-pop ideas to other people who were also attuning their senses beyond prog rock and other hideous diseases promoted by the closed minded TV & radio media. By my late teens my difficulties with my mental state was diminishing. The trauma from those times left me with a very withdrawn personality, a stutter and speech blockages at times, which made me very self conscious and non social within groups of people. I know that people thought that I was just plane weird at times, my behaviour erratic but to my closest few friends I was just the usual Patrick. Lucky for me that I was never put on medication, or worse, sent to a mental health institution which in those days would have probably caused more harm than good. I think my mother was very wise in not pushing my problems too much with regards to the medical services as I was predominantly well, let’s say normal for most of the time. As a younger kid I was enthused by music of all kinds. I had two older sisters and a brother who were very much into the weirder side of the music of the 60’s and 70’s and there were a lot of old LP’s of a classical and ethnical diversity. I think that my father liked a bit of classical pomp, the usual popular stuff, the “1812 Overture”, the “Planets by Holst”, Strauss. There was also a lot of Jazz and world music, European, African, Indian. I listened to everything constantly and such boyish pastimes as football, cricket, sports , didn’t enter into my world. Listening to music was my solo sport and kept my mind occupied. My extreme woodland lurking and tree climbing took me to other places that I loved.

Patrick Leagas of Sixth Comm (3)

Well, to me you look like a very open person in talking about yourself, for being someone with a “very withdrawn personality”, as you said! Now, I don’t want to transform this little interview into a shallow psychological session, but this somehow seems to be connected to the fact that, even in this immense online world of media, it’s still hard to find pictures of your face, so the image that I suppose most of us know of you is the black and white shot included on DIJ “The Guilty Have No Pride”. You wear masks very often, and you sent me a picture of you hidden by Maurice Jarre’s “Lawrence of Arabia” soundtrack and by two others LP by Ennio Morricone… Could you talk about this?

This is the very first time I have talked about my past problems in public. Since it is now the latest fashion to expose ones mental health issues or undergo some sort of sexual transformation then I have taken the opportunity via your Gurdjieff question to perhaps, in a round about way, explain or apologise to some people for my weird behaviour upon occasion. Sometimes not all is as it seems – what is apparent and visible to you may not always be perceived in the same way by myself. Sometimes I don’t see things as they really are. As for a sexual transformation who knows what the future brings!

I can only say that it is a blessing that my face can’t be found easily on the world wide spider. Though I must say that anyone who has followed my musical excursions will know that I didn’t wear a mask onstage at DIJ concerts, I din’t wear a mask at any of the thirty or so headline dates of Mother Destruction in the early 1990’s and I haven’t worn a mask at all of the 6 Comm shows in the last 5 or so years. There were also a more or less close up portrait photo’s of myself on the “Fruits of Yggdrasil” releases and on several other albums and other CD artworks. There have been many photo’s published in magazines and even online over the years. People know what I look like and who I am.

Film music is probably the most important key for my personal journey in music. The film ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ which I probably first saw at the age of 7 – 10 years old brought me to the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams who orchestrated the beautiful soundtrack to the film. His music remains my personal favourite in the genre of classical. It often has the tragedy equivalent the the modern mastery of Joy Division, where the music can take you to grief, sadness, beauty and despair. Williams is a genius which, like many of his contemporaries and friends, suffered personal sadness because of the First World War, that encroached upon and influenced the composers of their generation to greater heights and the depths of human experience in sound, the “real” creators of industrial music in every way. Ennio Morricone… well how can you not love this mans work? I think you would have to be of my generation to realise the influence of the “Spaghetti Western” and the musical works composed (and perhaps pre-influenced by Japanese composers in film and art). “Once upon a time in the West”, a soundtrack that I played as a young teenager a thousand times! You can hear the influences inherent in early Death in June work, especially “Nada”. I shouldn’t really speak for Douglas P but I am pretty sure that he too was so influenced by the music of the 60’s  and 70’s both in film and the classic British series like “The Prisoner”, “The Avengers” and many more. Some of his guitar riffs would not be out of place played upon celluloid film classic’s. Also the trumpets, odd percussion, choral vocals and spoiler noises, as I call them, that are sounds which appear out of place in a track. It’s all there in some of our work. You previously asked a question which does not appear here about Wagner, a sleeve of which can be seen in one of my images. Yes, Wagner was obviously an extraordinary composer, like many at the time all across Europe and America but I find the subject matter a little too single narrow for my taste, brilliant though his work may be. I much prefer Williams, Holst, Britten and many Scandinavian & Russian composers. Britten’s folks works at a later time are also a favourite of mine. As for Maurice Jarre’s sound track to “Lawrence”, well, who wouldn’t (as a real composer, something I am certainly not) want to write a theme like that? I also love the “March” he wrote for the film, he totally found the correct pomposity and bravado of the British military band. However behind all the well known opening title themes are the more interesting pieces, the atmospheres. I am not a musician, I am a drummer who dabbles with things perhaps best left alone. My work is more based on atmospheres and the rhythmic element rather than melody, I have no patience to learn instruments to a great ability. So I am intrigued by people that excel in musicianship. I don’t really need to listen to post industrial music. I can do that, but I prefer to be taken to musical places that I couldn’t possibly go.

Patrick Leagas of Sixth Comm (2)

I even see that you have another version of “Lawrence of Arabia” OST! You kept few records but madevery specific choices. I see also Clair Obscur, Wire and that strange “Recital of Handel Arias” by Kathleen Ferrier. What’s that?

I don’t know why but I think that that Clair Obscur mini album is one of the best works to be released at that period. It says 1930’s – 40’s weird avant guard to me. Like something from an underground night club in Paris or Berlin pre-WW2 but maybe that’s just my fantasy. The production in its reverby simplicity is perfect!

Kathleen Ferrier… well I just love her deep voice, thats all. Look for “Blow the wind Southerly” or other works.

Before, you mentioned twice your daughters and you said that you left records to them. Nice! I have two little girls now (1 year old and 4) and I wonder which tastes will they have. I sort of ‘expose’ them to any kind of music now, but they will develop their taste, and it’ll change in years. Which sort of music do your daughters like? Which records you left to them?

Well congratulations! Girls seem to be easier on ones stress levels I would say. I am glad that I never had a son to follow in my foot steps, I shudder to think about that. My twin daughters are not exactly kids anymore. One is finishing her PHD in physics and is currently in the USA. The other is going back into education and starting a degree in sound & visual technologies. I only see them a couple of times a year and to be perfectly honest I haven’t a clue as to what kind of music they listen to these days. The one about to start with the music tech course has been playing in bands on and off since she was about 18 or so, drums, saxophone & clarinet I think. I’m pretty sure that I would never have heard of any of the bands that they listen to. Their tastes are their own and I don’t think they’ll be exactly enamoured to inherit either my music collection or even worse my personal musical works. I think my small collection of Warp releases and other left field electronica has been taken into their possession at some point in the past.

Patrick Leagas has been involved in the underground music scene since the late 1970’s.
He is very well known as one of the founder members of the post industrial Apocalyptic group Death in June in 1980 – 81. After leaving Death in June in 1985 he then moved on to release music under the names of Six Comm aka 6 comm & Sixth comm, Mother destruction and other brief musical entities.
Though primarily a drummer he has worked mostly as a solo artist and is known for his individualistic approach to both to music & life in general.Though releasing music under the name of six comm since 1985 he only performed a full concert for the first time almost twenty years later. Having shunned all forms of social media, Patrick as Six comm, may be found occasionally performing live again in 2019.

Patrick Leagas of Sixth Comm - PHOTO.jpg

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