|808 State Your Mind|
|The Vibe Magazine
Interview by Jeff K
Wake up America, techno has arrived, and at the forefront of this assault are England's 808 State. Touring to promote their new Tommy Boy release "Ex:El", the mancunian techno-gods finally arrived in Dallas, a city they knew little about but a city they wouldn't soon forget. Their in-store appearance at Bill's Records was a mob scene, and so was their show at Deep Ellum Live. Nearly 1000 people raved as laserbeams danced overhead; the band and tour manager gleefully admitted this was their best gig yet. The three members touring included Graham Massey, 31 (GM); Andy Barker, 23 (AB); and Darren Partington, 21 (DP), all of whom were willing to sit down and chat about touring, music, and more.
Isn't this your first nation-wide tour of America?
DP - Yeah, last year we did a gig with the Happy Mondays at the Sound Factory in New York for the New Music Seminar, but that was it.
What are your initial perceptions of America?
AB - We like it! The people are really into it.GM - Americans are "good consumers" which is quite gratifying. England is full of cult things and attitudes so you tend to get bogged down. If you make an impression in England, you become a has-been.
Where is your fourth member, Martin Price?
GM - Well, Martin runs Eastern Bloc Records back in Manchester, and right now he's got a lorra things on his plate.
When you guys are in the studio recording, do you make a conscious effort to write stuff for the dance floor, or do you get your favorite remixer to spice it up?
AB - We don't necessarily get remixers to get it on the dance floor, 'cause in England whatever we do normally gets played in the clubs.
Speaking of classics, how do you feel about all the "Cubik" rip-offs: flattered or angry?
GM - It depends on who did it and if it was done creatively; some are good and some are shit!
Do you find time to keep up with the dance scene, the charts, with techno?
DP - Because we've got the record shop and I'm a DJ and we've got our own radio show on Sunset Radio, we're totally on top of it all the time. Now I don't listen to anybody specifically, but I do listen to labels, like R&S, Hithouse, Music Man, and Flying.
The hard stuff is real big right now.
DP - Yeah, the big tune in Manchester when we left was "Charly" by the Prodigy. That hit #3 in the commercial charts.
How do you feel about the increased desire for Techno? When you started, there wasn't this kind of support for your ideas; now there's plenty.
GM - It's a very personal thing. Some nights you go out and you think it's all brilliant. Another night you might hear the same records and think it's all so brainless.
Doesn't that say something about the availability of the technology?
DP - Exactly, and that's good, it's progressing so fast. The immediacy of the scene was one of my turn-ons for getting into dance music. You could sample, didn't need a bassplayer or drummer, no personnel problems, you could just go in and do your tune.
808 State's underground image seems almost as important as the music; is it this way in England?
GM - In England, we are sortof marketed like a pop band. It's been quite difficult for us 'cause that's not what we set out to do. But we do want to get to people.
Are shows like Top of the Pops a necessary evil?
GM - Doing shows like Top of the Pops and interviews with magazines like Smash Hits helps us get to the younger generation. They're all into techno, forging their ideas. There's a flow of energy coming from them.
A couple of quick Smash Hits questions: Darren, if you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?
DP - I'd be a fluffy dog!
Graham, If you were a color, what color would you be?
GM - Orange!
You guys do lots of remixing these days; anything in the works?
GM - Yeah, we just finished remixing a David Bowie single, "Sound and Vision" from his "Low" album. Thee's also a remix we did of Quincy Jones' "Back on the Block", and a remix for Yes.
Yes!? Why Yes?
GM - Well, you get all these people knocking on your door and you think, "Yeah, what could we do with that?" The temptation to pervert and twist these things is what gets us.
Will we see anything new from 808 State?
GM - Yeah, we got loads of stuff in the can waiting for the new album, which should be out around March '92.