We are sipping cappuccino’s sitting in the sunshine outside the ‘Capri’ coffee house, which is located between the Pizza Take-Away and the Estate Agents on High Street, Horbury, West Yorkshire.

Ivor Tymchak is a stylish dresser, with a penchant for sharp hats. He talks enthusiastically, ranging in a literate way from subject to subject, with a wealth of intriguing opinions on everything from the Dada artists in 1917 Zurich to the heavyweight literature of Herman Hesse and Philip K Dick, from the evils of capitalism to the cool sounds of the Chemical Brothers. There are plenty of ineffectuals in today’s music world, and not a lot of intellectuals. Ivor helps fills the cleverness quota.

‘What kind of thing is your editor after?’ he genially enquires, ‘Weird? Outrageous? Existential?’

Just be yourself, Ivor…

‘Ah, so weird, outrageous and existential it is then…’

Back in 1991 when the Gentle Ihor’s Devotion 45rpm twelve-inch single ‘Naked’ was ‘Melody Maker’ single of the week – kinda Rock, kinda Goth, they were the Wakefield power trio who elevated the Clarence Park free festival into the stratosphere. Now lead singer and writer Ivor operates largely solo, but with inputs from Nigel Goodwin and Chris Olley in a renewed phase. He played a support gig at the Leeds Brudenell Club supporting Spear Of Destiny, a charismatic frontman with a talent for drama, he wields a brolly to lethal effect on what he terms the ‘seething Punk energy’ of ‘Battle Song’ – ‘sirens are calling,  & storm troops are forming, & watch-towers are burning, for our war is coming.’

As part of the same set, he updates the talk-rap ‘Naked’ with new reference-points, ‘imagine a world where clothes didn’t exist, there’s no hiding behind power dressing.’ ‘The lyrics of ‘Naked’ are timeless and the riff is so hypnotic and uncompromising that it still has power thirty years later’ he offers. ‘I’ve tweaked a couple of references to make the lyrics topical but that’s all, the rest of it is still the original, raw, tell-it-like-it-is, honesty.’

The band’s recent resurgence has yielded two impressive digital albums, ‘We Entered The Vortex Of Desire’, a compilation of new and remixed tracks, then ‘Quatrain Terminus’ recorded at Rockfield Studios in a stripped-back moog-&-drums setting, with the reworked version of ‘Naked’. What was it like recording at the legendary Rockfield Studio, where Dave Edmunds, Queen and Wakefield’s own BeBop Deluxe had worked? ‘It was a bit like hanging around in the same airport that many other famous people had hung around.’ There wasn’t a sense of sacred awe? ‘Not for me, I’m too much of a realist. Sacred awe doesn’t improve your own recordings!’

On the former album, ‘Acid Daze (Olley Mix)’ is a kind of electro flashback to the psychedelia of ‘Eight Miles High’, ‘Dark Star’ and Timothy Leary. It starts off with pinging cymbal, driven on steady machine-rhythms and splintering guitars, ‘fields of fire bloom with strawberry haze, from along the watchtower, a hurdy gurdy plays.’ The shivery guitar is more upfront on the Chris (Six By Seven) Olley mix, with crashing walls of trippy consciousness-raising reverberation. ‘‘Acid Daze’ is a good example of my approach to lyric writing. I have a fondness for psychedelia, so when I came up with a slow, lazy riff I decided to make the song about that era. I tried to pull in as many references to psychedelia as I could, especially references from other songs about it. I like to be clever with my wordplay. ‘Seeing for miles and miles through the holes in my shoes’ was a satisfying composition. Personally, I think ‘Acid Daze’ is one of my best songs, it transports me to another world.’

He has other gears. ‘Callin’ On You’ was ignited by the discovery of a raw Blues guitar riff, built on sampled harmonica into a rumbling choogling boogie, with a video atmospherically steeped in images of rural Delta poverty, ‘there’s blackness in my story, tattooed with the Blues.’ ‘It’s a Blues song with a reference to a midnight train… what’s not to like?’ he travelogues.

It creates a very effective juxtaposition, with the raw Blues feeling… delivered in Ivor’s very white articulate voice. ‘And thanks for pointing out the juxtaposition. You always forget what’s right under your nose. Although I did try to allude to the appropriation in the lyrics, ‘once I stole a fashion and a blueprint for some shoes’ – these were blue suede shoes in my mind.’ Elvis stole ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ from Carl Perkins anyway, so that makes perfect sense.

The harmonica player is good. But can Ivor afford him…? ‘Not really. A few favours had to be called in.’

So, is it a sample? ‘Ah, the person who supplied the sounds made me promise not to tell anyone where they came from. The sounds were so good – and as far as I’m aware, he can tailor the sounds specifically for a track, so I agreed to his terms. I hope you understand?’

He sounds like an interesting contact to make. But also sounds suspiciously like Artificial Intelligence to me! ‘It does sound like AI, doesn’t it. The reason he’s so cagey with it is that he’s a songwriter and it currently gives him an edge over other songwriters. A bit like the early adopters of satnavs, they could find the short cuts when traffic jams occurred. Now everyone is in the same jam… Hmm, that sounds like a song lyric…’

Early adaptors are the bleeding edge of evolution. ‘Haha, I’m guessing ‘adaptors’ wasn’t a typo.’ No, adaptors. Those who adapt.

Can I quote you on all this? ‘Yes. AI plays the Blues is a good headline…!’

— 0 —

Meanwhile, back in days past, ‘‘Melody Maker journalists Simon Price and Dave Simpson both loved the ‘Naked’ single so it was gratifying to read about it in the national music press’ he recalls. This is around the time they were being favourably mentioned in the same paragraph as Sisters Of Mercy. ‘When Beaumont Street studios in Huddersfield got wind of the interest in it, they offered to record a dance version of the track and Nige played some of the best guitar I’d ever heard him produce in the studio. Stupidly, I didn’t ask for a tape demo of the recording after the session so when the studio went up in flames taking the master tape with it, the entire project was lost.’

‘As a band we were always difficult to classify’ he admits. ‘As we used a drum machine some people assumed we were Goth, and as I liked Goth music I didn’t particularly mind but my own influences were heavy rock. I loved Wishbone Ash, Deep Purple, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin etc. When ‘Naked’ broke into the music industry’s consciousness, they didn’t know what to make of it. Today, it would fit perfectly alongside Sleaford Mods, Yard Act and Dry Cleaning. Being decades ahead of the times is a tragedy, as often the work slips by unnoticed.’

‘Eddie Tempest was the keyboard player and he’s in Cornwall now’ he continues. ‘Nigel Goodwin was the musical genius behind the band, a brilliant lead guitarist but he also played bass and programmed the drum machine. Alcohol was his demon and he’s now in a nursing home slowly losing his memory and identity. I really miss him. We made a great team. He once told me the ideas I came up with were deliciously eccentric, ideas he’d never have thought of. A lot of my ideas derive from literature as well as personal experience. I spend a lot of time on my lyrics. I think they’re important. I write stories too. I used to read a lot of mystical stuff in my youth – Herman Hesse, Timothy Leary, Ram Das. I now prefer sci-fi, thrillers and detective stories.’

‘Ask me a couple of questions to get me started’ he suggests, leaning back in the chair. So, talk about the band’s ubiquitous logo that features the kind of Spartan hoplite featured in ‘The 300’ movie. ‘As a teenager I read ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ and I was taken by the way people and things were described, ‘the wine-dark sea, man-killing Hector’ etc’ muses Ivor. ‘I imagined if I were a character in those stories I’d be called Gentle Ihor, so Gentle Ihor’s Devotion had an Ancient Greek influence. I did an ink drawing of the Hoplite when I was in my twenties. I think I used it this time round to disabuse anyone thinking my music was in any way gentle, especially as I’ve grown older.’

His ‘Psalm 151: Unplugged’ – check it out on YouTube, takes on an autobiographical tone of corrupted innocence, ‘a simple story of a young country boy who makes his way to the city after being told that only there can he find artistic and personal fulfilment – THAT’S A LIE!, but he believed it anyway,’ delivered with vehement old testament vitriol. It’s a new-age old-time vision of apocalyptic hellfire and damnation to chill and excite the soul with a frisson of retribution. It builds with teasing innovation, cheeky in its deliberate game-play subterfuge and crammed with energies more natural than artificial. This is a song that serves notice to the Pop world in general that Gentle Ihor’s Devotion are moving up a gear, and that this is a band to listen to with sharpened scrutiny.

For the ‘Quatrain Terminus’ album, sidestepping Goth, there’s a stripped-back Minimoog to provide techno-mechanical DAF-style bass-lines for Charlie to throw thunderous Ludwig drums at, while Ivor delivers menacingly honest intonations, it’s almost a return to simpler times… a Moog synth, a virtuoso live drummer and an angry man commenting on the state of the world. ‘Kill Them All’ starts out by taking a subterfuge of relentless electro to list the ‘thylacine, the great Auk, the Pyrenean Ibex, the Cape Verde Great skink, the quagga’ as species on the extinction list, before moving on to the ‘arms dealer, terrorist, trainspotter, paedophile, pornographer, pedestrian.’ Again, irony is lethally employed with theatrical precision to devastating effect. Ivor has a useful adage that runs, ‘Art is a specimen jar containing the emotions that subconsciously frighten us.’

‘Many people have told me my voice is highly distinctive and a classically trained actor once told me I had natural timing in my intonation’ he muses. ‘Rap is probably where I should have concentrated my efforts. ‘Kill Them All’ signals the direction I’m probably going to take, spoken word mixed with musical phrases delivering a message. I’ve recently become fascinated by Bob Dylan’s lyrics. He’s a bit like Nostradamus, clever at saying things that allow limitless interpretations. I like that. And the thing about being creative without any expectation of a career is that it makes you unpredictable and dangerous. I can do anything. I needn’t worry too much if people don’t like it. Maybe in decades to come, the world will finally appreciate what I’m doing today.’

Cappuccino’s are cooling as we sit outside the ‘Capri’ coffee house in Horbury, West Yorkshire. ‘I got the sense we had too much to talk about’ he concludes after some forty-five minutes of wide-ranging discussion. ‘I tend to go for a walk every day so we could make a peripatetic interview if you like. Although it might be hard to write. Perhaps you have a little recorder? But no, it’s no surprise we didn’t cover the simple things.’







‘Naked’ c/w ‘Seekers Of Oblivion’ (1991 Org Records ORG001, vinyl 45rpm twelve-inch single, and Life! Records, single-sided cassette)

‘The Dream Ended’ (Life! Records, single-sided Cassette)

Played the Clarence Park Free Festival, August 1992.

Damn! Damn! Damn!’ (Tug Records TUGO18, German label) with ‘Damn! Damn! Damn!’, ‘Big Machine’, ‘Man Of God’, ‘Profit & Loss’, ‘Baby Cry’, ‘Move On’, ‘Good Time To Die’, ‘Naked’, ‘Accept’ plus live tracks ‘Damn! Damn! Damn!’, ‘Man Of God’, ‘Naked’, ‘Sex Junkie’, ‘Twentieth Century’

Gentle Ihor’s Devotion’ (Own label black-shell cassette edition) with ‘Sex Junkie’, ‘The Game’, ‘I’ve Fallen In Love With A Picture Again’ and ‘Songs And Dances’

We Entered The Vortex Of Desire’ (2023, digital) compilation of new and remixed tracks, ‘Battle Song’ 3:49, ‘My Ship Is On Fire (The Charlie Olley Mix) 4:12, ‘Going Back To Brownhills’ 4:29, ‘On The Move’ 5:35, ‘We’re Just Waiting’ 3:29, ‘As You Slept’ 3:17, ‘Acid Daze (Olley Mix) 4:40, ‘Acid Daze’ 4:20, ‘My Ship Is On Fire’ 4:05, ‘Seekers Of Oblivion’ (remix) 3:55, ‘Go With Him’ 4:51, ‘Forbidden Verses’ 4:06, ‘Mayday (Feel Like An Alien)’ 4:28, ‘The Fall’ 3:34, ‘Whole Lotta Voodoo’ 3:04, ‘Hard Left Collective – Hard Left (Molotov Mix)’ 2:42, ‘The Hard Left Collective – Hard Left’ 2:46, ‘Snow’ 4:05

‘Kill Them All’ (February 2023, digital single)

Quatrain Terminus’ (2023, digital) recorded at Rockfield Studios in a stripped-back moog-&-drums setting, with ‘Naked’ 6:24, ‘Go With Him’ 5:24, ‘Walking To The Gallows’ 5:24, ‘Put Your Phones Away’ 5:06, ‘Profit & Loss’ 6:14, ‘Kill Them All’ 6:00, ‘Monoculture Future’ 5:50, ‘Repetition’ 3:54


By Andrew Darlington

This entry was posted on in homepage and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.