As the years go on, the recognition continues to gather steam. After Gag, Tovey decided to start recording under his own name and released six albums on Mute between and These records were frequently more challenging the ones released as Fad Gadget, and Tovey's switch in names allowed him to expand his creativity.
He decided to learn how to play instruments properly, a move that was prompted by his daughter. Asked by his daughter to play one of her songs, Tovey realized he couldn't really play anything, so he took up the guitar and made a conscious decision to write and record with more traditional instrumentation.
The labor-inspired album featured covers of modern and traditional protest songs. In , Tovey dusted off Fad Gadget and began performing again under the name. New material had been written and plans for new recordings were laid, but Tovey suffered from heart problems since his childhood, and died of a heart attack on 3 April at the age of State of the Nation 3.
Salt Lake City Sunday 4. Coitus Interruptus 5. Fireside Favourites 6. Newsreel 7. Insecticide 8. Box 9. Arch of the Aorta. EP, Fevereiro , Mute. Ricky's Hand 2. EP, Junho , Mute , Vogue. Fireside Favourite 2. Blind Eyes 2. Swallow It 3. Saturday Night Special 4. Incontinent 5. Manual Dexterity 6. Innocent Bystander 7. King of the Flies 8. Diminished Responsibility 9. Plain Clothes. Make Room 2. Lady Shave. Under the Flag I 2. Scapegoat 3. Love Parasite 4. Plainsong 5.
Wheels of Fortune 6. Life on the Line 7. Sheep Look Up 8. Cipher 9. For Whom the Bells Toll Under the Flag. EP, , Mute , Vogue. Life on the Line 2. Saturday Night Special Special Mix 2. Swallow It Live. Eschewing the robotic playing by his contemporaries, Tovey shocked audiences with intense theatrics evoking…and provoking…the basest corners of the human psyche. As Fad Gadget, Tovey abandoned British propriety and flagrantly debased himself into a primal nightmare.
This festering manifestation of the shadow self tore out and tossed his pubic hair into the audience, mock-masturbated, sported medieval bondage gear, crowd surfed often resulting in serious injury , fought with audience members, covered himself in shaving foam, and climbed rafters panting loudly in a microphone stuffed in his mouth.
At various points in his career, the corporeal form of Fad Gadget withstood snapped tendons, spurting head gashes, and an X-shaped scar across his chest from broken glass. Par for the course in any performance art scene, but too shocking for Top of the Pops. Much like Bowie, Tovey found inspiration from various collaborators.
His act was less rock star than performance art, taking inspiration in multiple disciplines. Barbara Frost, then his wife, was a frequent artistic partner; her crystal-clear vocals float through much of his early recordings as well as their toddler daughter in subsequent albums. Anton Corbijn would later find a muse in Tovey for some of his early photographic portraits, including an iconic photo of Fad Gadget covered in shaving foam.
A fledgling Depeche Mode were entranced by his antics, later joining him on the Mute label. The entire industrial genre owes Tovey a tip of the hat, with artists like Skinny Puppy , NIN , and Marilyn Manson snatching the relay baton he explained in a later interview that he preferred Al Green and Dylan instead.
The later sonic switch of his folk-inspired sound confused his fans, the press, and even his own label, but ironically, Tovey had always been a folk musician. His lyrics delved into the psyche, the human experience, and the Everyman existing in a technologically-fueled fascism. On that note, Tovey still strikes a deep chord today during this time of political chaos.
Tovey remains one of the only artists brave enough to authentically confront the corporate evils of the 80s that informed and compounded the political drama of the modern era. As a result, his music has finally caught up with the horrifying dystopia he predicted decades ago.
Nearly a decade passed before the mojo returned in full form, but things really changed when Andy Fletcher caught him at the Electrofest. When asked what his next plans were, Tovey joked that he intended to open for Depeche Mode at Wembley Stadium…and they called his bluff. His influences had always been eclectic, and his love of manipulating sounds electronically inspired so many, but that is also what we were doing with the more traditional folk and rock instruments.
The song mattered, and the layers of sound we could use to draw out the emotion of the song was the only thing that was relevant. This was not a world Tovey wanted for his beloved children. Civilian is a hypnotic channeling of rage at corporate greed and corruption. The album opens with New Jerusalem , a screeching cacophony of crowd chants and a droning, nightmarish recounting of a fascist police state and street violence. Ultramarine bitterly attacks the Hollywood glorification of the American military complex:.
Tovey darkly closes Ultramarine with his own Wonder Years -style monologue, recounting a childhood memory of watching a Buddhist monk die by self-immolation on live television. So much for the veil of nostalgia. From The City To The Isle of Dogs examines the gentrification of London neighborhoods already present by , the continuing erasure of local culture, and the demise of the middle class.Civilian, an Album by Frank Tovey. Released 13 June on Mute (catalog no. STUMM 56 ; Vinyl LP). Genres: Post-Punk, Alternative Rock.