Interview with Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto conducted via phone 8/8/96

Jester: Why was there such a delay between the release of "Satyricon" and Subliminal Sandwich?

Jack: The initial reason was because I wanted to get out of the loop of releasing an album and then touring, releasing another album and touring again. I had been doing that since 1987 and I just wanted to get out of that for a bit. In 1992 after "Satyricon" came out I toured until late 1993 and then moved to San Francisco in 1994. I then worked on the most recent Consolidated record, "Business & Punishment" and produced an album for Emergency Broadcast Network. Those two projects took a big chunk of my time. "Subliminal Sandwich" actually took ten months over a two year period to complete.

Jester: So you really were keeping yourself busy rather than just taking a large period of time off from work?

Jack: Correct. I was working every single day. Although this album has been finished for about eight months.

Jester: What sparked the move to San Francisco?

Jack: There is a lot of work here with Consolidated and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. I just sort of got to know more people here than I did in Swindon, England. It was a very small town where nothing ever happens and yet I wrote all other other albums there. I wanted a change. I didn't want to another record there. My inspiration level was at an all time low. I definitely needed a major injection. Moving over to the US definitely gave it that much needed change. It allowed me to meet and work with and entirely different group of people.

Jester: So we can expect to see you touring again soon?

Jack: Yes in September. We have a show in Portland on October 5th at La Luna. However it could change it is not definite. As I said the album has been i done for about months now and in that time I have been working with these three other guys who are now in the band. The next album will be the four of us. We will be going into the studio to write it in January so within the first half of next year we will release another album. Live there will be four of us. Lynn Farmer on drums, John Wilson on guitars, Mike Powell on keyboards, and myself. We have been rehearsing for the last few months as well as working on new material.

Jester: When you play live how much of your music is on tape versus performed live now that you have a full band?

Jack: Well I have an ADAT which I have playing in the background. On the ADAT I have things like spoken word samples, sub bass and huge chunks of unplayable loops. That really is the only thing that will be running on tape. The ADAT runs with the DRC which generates SMPTe, the SMPTe runs the sequencer and we play everything else live. It is about live as one can possibly make it.

Jester: It allows you to become a little bit more free form in the show?

Jack: Definitely. I've got a couple of sampler where I can sample on the fly and just let them loop as we switch into a new song. It is very open ended, more open ended than any tour I've ever done. Without bullshitting you and telling you that there is no tape, there is, but it is a format that is minimal. There isn't a sampler with enough memory in existence that would allow us to load all of the sounds we use into memory unless you took a computer out with a hard drive and reloaded the sampler every single track. It is the easiest thing for use to do because it runs SMPTe which runs the sequencer which in turns runs everything else.

Jester: On the new album the press release states that "Asbestos Lead Asbestos' is a cover. Who originally performed that track?

Jack: World Domination Enterprises. A mid-eighties band that sounded sort of like the Clash. A white punky dub style. That was the sort of music that I was really into in the late seventies. There was this big rejection to punk by many punks in the scene in 1978 because it had become what The Sex Pistols said it would become. A total swing door effect. A money making, major label, conglomerate entity. There was a complete rejection to that style of music so everyone was looking to the underground to a new style of music which happened to be dub. Bands like the Slits, Flying Lizards, New Age Steppers, Cabaret Voltaire, Clash, & Public Image Ltd. A completely new movement of music that the media never jumped onto and bastardized. So it was just let to meander it's on course. The media instead jumped onto Ska and dub turned into music much like Mark Stewart & The Mafia and early Meat Beat stuff became. All that stuff you here now, the techno, and jungle is what I call dub in the nineties.

Jester: What lead to the more mellow dub sound? What is more of a musical exploration or a shift in your personal tastes?

Jack: I've done things like that in the past like 'Radio Babylon'. They really haven't been mellow but they did influenced me. There are also tracks on "Storm the Studio" like that as well. Each album is always all over the place musically speaking. I think there is more structure on "99%" and "Satyricon", and that was something that I wanted to get away from and back towards my roots. I think that if anything this album is going back to my own musical roots rather than mellowing out and becoming ambient.

Jester: Even though this new material sounds more modern? It really seems to fit the direction that much of the dub genre has gone towards.

Jack: However I really haven't tried to do that either. I would not have written a track like 'Radio Babylon' in 1985 if I had been influenced by the current trend of music at that time. St that time the music that was in was Acid House and dub wasn't really very prevalent at all. I've never tried to directly follow trends in music. I really enjoy jungle with drums and bass, but instead of following it I might do something utilizing some of the same elements. That is probably what always keep my music fresh. Not trying to sound too egotistical but I really try to not copy a musical style straight out but instead forge ahead with newer ideas.

Jester: How did you create some of those complex sound loops? Was it something you envisioned or was it more a spontaneous conception?

Jack: It is a little of both. There is no standard format composition that I use. A song could start from a bass line or a lyric. A big difference between this album and "Storm The Studio" is that the older album was more of a pop-art album where you could easily identify some of the source material. That was the hip-hop selector thing to do at the time. On this album I tried to purposely mutate things way beyond their original sound. I ran samples though harmonizers and weird effects.

Jester: I did notice a large number of PSA vocal samples that were from like old PSA records from the fifties and sixties running throughout the new album. Where did you find all of those obscure samples?

Jack: You can find them all over the Bay Area. Stuff like that is impossible to find in Europe. Vinyl was seriously being depleted in the late seventies and late eighties in England. Now you can't buy anything good over there. There are now shops in Europe who come over to the US and buy boxes and boxs of cheap records and sell them for like forty-five pounds. There is a shop in London full of great records but you can't buy any of them because they are too expensive. Over here because there is such a surplus, you can find records rather cheap. Give it ten or fifteen years and good vinyl won't exists over here either. I've definitely been buying a lot of those types of obscure records. Practically all of them don't have any type of copyright which is always a good thing.

Jester: So you can use them freely.

Jack: I think so. It would be a sad day if somebody chased after me like Marilyn Monroe and Mao Tse Tsung chased Andy Warhol. It is just creating art from old art which is the post modernist thing to do.

Jester: I've read that you are a very consciously political person in your choice of dress, lifestyle and convictions, does this pass itself into much of your music as well?

Jack: Yes, to some extent. I don't tend to stand on a pedestal and preach to the converted or unconverted. It is just my own personal views which tend to come out sometimes in obvious ways and other times in complete abstract ways. Is is definitely not from the school of forcing ones views down someones throat. I like to be more subtle and provocative. You can have a really adverse reaction to be dictated too so I tend to present it in more of an artistic manner instead. The style of artwork that I have always been into works along those same sorts of subversive lines of Surrealism and Dadaism.

Jester: What is your reaction to being labeled a pioneer in the electronic music scene? Has it affected you in any way?

Jack: No. I might have elements of being innovative but it is not the outright the Bible or a benchmark. It is weird people over here label the music all dance where in Europe it is called jungle and drumming. People have called 'Radio Babylon" the first jungle song and actually it really isn't It was just a song that was written back then that happens to use elements that are being used right now in this weeks popular style of music. I take it with a pinch of salt. I really got into music because people and bands inspired me to do it. That is the ultimate thing that I've always wanted to do. Playing live and getting letters and fan feedback is good because that means I have touched something in their life and perhaps they will go and do something themselves just like I have. The last few years I have seen people I knew, who used to work with me, who now have their own musical careers. I liked to think I've achieved something when that happens. It was never into music for the money. I have no aspirations for the making a ton of cash. I just want to make music that might inspire people.

Jester: How did you get involved with remixing such a wide variety of artists like Scorn, Orbital, Nine Inch Nails, etc?

Jack: I certainly don't have a remix agent. It is a sad state of affairs when record companies hire people to go out into clubs and search out who is currently hot to do a remix. It is a huge industry with agents who work for DJ's. I don't have any of that. I just occasionally get the odd phone call to do the odd remix and I end up turning down more than I actually do. I only do it if I have conceded that there something in a track that I can take in a completely different manner. One of the few songs I had a problem with was the Scorn track because it was so good to begin with that I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it.

Jester: Like you didn't even want to touch it?

Jack: Exactly and I didn't even touch it enough as far as they were concerned. They thought I was going to completely rework it like I usually do with other stuff. I just happened to really like that song so I just added a few elements in a vain attempt to improve it when in reality I should have just gone completely off the edge and done it different. So I get these phone calls every so often and depending on if it is good I'll work with it. Remixing allows me to take some time off from making my own music and go back with a fresh mind and new ideas. There have been cases where I have really liked a sample in a particular track and it will end up is a Meat Beat Manifesto track as well. That is more of selective reference rather than a normal signature.

Jester: At the bottom of the press kit, there is a phrase in quotes which states, "Play Twice Before Listening". I was wondering what you want by that?

Jack: That is also on the back cover of the actual album as well. There is like 140 minutes of music in twenty-eight songs which is absolutely impossible to consume within a single listen and really have an informed opinion of it. You can have an opinion but not really concrete one. It was just a tongue in cheek reference to music that I used to listen to that was always fresh and innovative for the first ten or so listens. It was not something anyone should take too serious, but rather just give the music some time before you condemn it for being too long or too self indulgent.

Jester: I heard a rumor that that while recording "Storm The Studio" that you blew out the monitors and that you left them for the next band to take the blame? Is there any truth to that?

Jack: Yes. The originally recording was done on "Suck Hard" but some of those elements ended up on "Storm The Studio" One of the speakers started blowing smoke and I didn't know that speakers could do that. What actually happened was that the wires inside had gotten so hot from the feedback we had left running for eight minutes. I used to do vocals from the talk back microphone on the desk so that every time you spoke into it it gave off this incredible feedback. It was a frequency which had no high end. It was like a low rumble. It ended up burning the foam inside the speaker. It wasn't really an outright fire but more of a smoldering smoke. It had never seen anything like bellows of smoke coming out in time with the music before. Yet completely dead on the top end of the sound. We ended up leaving the amplifier on for the monitors and turned the desk off. So that whomever came in, in the morning and turned the desk on, would hear this huge popping noise. Normally you are supposed to turn the desk on and then the amplifier. It then blew the other speaker at that point when the desk was turned back on.

Jester: Going back to the musical loop you mentioned earlier, do you feel that you miss that now?

Jack: Definitely. It is very hard work touring. It really kills you. You can only take so much of it. So it is a real relief to go back into the studio. It's been like three years so I am about ready to get out of the studio and get back out touring.

Jester: Is there anything else you'd like to add before we end?

Jack: I'll end with a quote, "The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all."

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