Friday, February 27, 2009

A Thriving Industry Propels The State Of The Nation

One of the motivating factors behind me continuing with Retro Universe, is my interest in learning more about artists that, previously, I didn’t know much about. One band that had a brief flirtation with mainstream success during the early to mid 80s was the New York, new wave synth-rock quartet Industry. My only knowledge of Industry (the band) comes via their minor chart hit during 1983, ‘State Of The Nation’, but given the quality of that song, I’m surprised they didn’t experience more chart action.

As if New York wasn’t industrious enough already, during 1980 a Long Island based Industry, of the musical variety, released their debut EP ‘Logging Time’ on the independent Metro Records label. Industry, the band, had been established a couple of years previous, and comprised the talents of Jon Carin (vocals/keyboards/synth, ex-Cathedral), Brian Unger (guitar/vocals), Rudy Perrone (bass/guitar, ex-Cathedral), and Mercury Caronia (drums). They played a cutting edge mix of post-punk, synth infused pop-rock, inspired by the likes of Ultravox and Joy Division, and quickly logged up a considerable number of live gigs on the U.S. East Coast. A second 12” titled ‘Turning To Light’ came to light during 1981, but chart action remained elusive for the quartet.

The song that brought Industry to the attention of the wider music industry was the catchy, synth-rock anti-war track ‘State Of The Nation’ in 1983. Lyrically it was unapologetic in its challenging of the concept of fighting for one’s country, or “fighting for the state of the nation”. Musically, it was a first class slice of infectious synth-rock. Backed by an extravagant promo video, ‘State Of The Nation’ debuted on the U.S. Hot 100 during November of ‘83, but languished in the lower reaches for eight weeks, not managing to march any higher than #81. A few months later ‘State Of The Nation’ performed similarly on the Australian charts (#78). Written by Jon Carin and Mercury Caronia, the track was lifted from Industry’s self titled EP release, which received five star studio treatment from producer Rhett Davies (worked with Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, Talking Heads, Dire Straits), and engineer Bob Clearmountain (worked with Roxy Music, Bryan Adams, David Bowie).

‘State Of The Nation’ apparently fared better on selected European and Asian charts, and gained Industry some support slots with the likes of Billy Idol and INXS. The song was featured on Industry’s debut, and only, album release ‘Stranger To Stranger’, released in early ‘84. Issued on Capitol Records, ‘Stranger To Stranger’ remained a relative stranger to most record buyers, and the follow up single ‘Still Of The Night’ didn’t manage to move inside the charts. The album was also produced by Rhett Davies, and the Roxy Music production influence shines through on tracks such as ‘Romantic Dreams’, lyrically a tale of unrequited love, and musically a homage to the lush synthesizer treatment Eno had pioneered a decade earlier.

Possibly recessionary factors brought on by modest record sales contributed to Industry folding shortly after. Chief songwriter Jon Carin did go on to work with some pop-rock luminaries over the next twenty years, including playing keyboards for Bryan Ferry at 1985’s ‘Live Aid’ (possibly the Rhett Davies connection coming in there). He also became a long term touring player with Pink Floyd, and worked with both David Gilmour and Roger Waters on their individual tours through the 90s and beyond. In 2006 Carin played a central role in Psychedelic Furs’ front man Richard Butler’s self titled solo album. Guitarist Brian Unger went on to record more work in the synth-pop vein, under the moniker of A Different Drum.

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