This interview was performed on behalf of Culture Shock Magazine which is now, according to rumor, and the fact that Sage never called me back, dead. I never had the time to seriously shop it to other magazines so here it is for free. Sorry for the brief intro. I have very little time for band interviews these days. Jacks quotes might make him sound arrogant but that surely is not the case. I transcribed the interview for use in a feature-format article. This would have allowed me to introduce context and paint Jack as the modest man that he is. Alas, lack of time has forced me to spit it out as is. Jack is honestly one of the nicest people I have ever met and the new album is unbelievable!
MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO by Aaron Johnston
"Its about getting a good, live, old sound."
The words of Meat Beat Manifestos Jack Dangers may sound atypical for the leader of an electronic dance act, but not if you consider his past. Meat Beat was Trip Hop before there was Trip Hop. Meat Beat was merging electronics with acoustic instruments and electronic guitars years before it became fashionable. Even now that the word "industrial" is just as commercially taboo as "metal" or "rock," he insists that the "I" word is very much a part of his sound.
In August of 1998, we met on the 24th floor of a skyscraper in San Franciscos financial district. The Bay Bridge was to the east. The Golden Gate Bridge was to the north west. At the head of large meeting table in a "kooky" Bay Area office, Jack and crew sat for an hour talking about the bands latest release, "Actual Sounds + Voices."
I grew up and lived in a small town in England all of my life. It was called Swindon and is sort of like the English version of Fresno. There was never anything going on there so you had to make up your own enjoyment. None of my family had any musical interest at all. I didnt have a record player until 1985. The first record I bought was in 1978 "Trancewerk Express" by Kraftwerk. Eight-thousand records later, here I am.
There are so many new instruments out now that would have seemed impossible ten or twelve years ago. So, its easier in that sense to do music now. You have all of these programs and hard disc space is becoming cheaper and cheaper. Four years ago I bought a 1.5 gigabyte hard drive for two-and-half bloody grand!
Is it too easy for kids to make "Electronica?" If so, will this dilute the genre?
I think theres still a certain knowledge that comes with it. If you were just turned on to the music over the last year, I think thats different than being into it for the last twenty. With every scene you get 98% crap. It doesnt matter what genre you look at. The same is true with electronic music but at least now its possible for more people to release their own tracks on their own label and even do the packaging for the releases on their own computer. Thats more akin to the ethic of what punk was supposed to be about than anything Ive ever heard before.
Meat Beat Manifestos press kit compares them to Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers and other current faves despite Meat Beat Manifestos long history in the genre
The thing with those bands is most of them sampled us anyway. As a musician, it doesnt bother me. You cant blame me for making music ten or twelve years ago that just happens to fit in with whats going on today. I dont care about press kits. They just go to people like you. Its up to you to rub two brain cells together and think about it.
Drummer Lynne Farmer on the press kit
I think he press kit outlined the fact that people were finally catching on to what Jack has been doing all of this time and that he has been such a huge influence on these bands. I dont think that it was trying to say that Meat Beat sounds like the Chemical Brothers, but it was really more of a learning lesson. People who know the history of the band and this style of music wont think much of it. For people who just got into this style of music, its a bit of a history lesson. As far as being labeled contemporaries to these other bands, I guess we are. Like it or not, weve been lumped into this same genre.
Being on Wax Trax! back then
It helped back then because it made people want to check us out. At that point, if you were doing anything even remotely associated with hip-hop, and you were white, you werent taken seriously. Well, unless you were the Beastie Boys but not even they were taken very seriously. They had to change their image and reinvent themselves on Pauls Boutique to be taken seriously.
Facing the kids
We just toured with the Prodigy and I saw a bunch of twelve-year-old kids there who were maybe one-years-old when Storm The Studio came out. What are you going to show them? Thats just the way it works out. I feel that weve gotten the respect that we deserve, though. We havent got the record sales but respect is more important to me than record sales.
Open Minded Audiences?
Were lucky enough to live in the Bay Area and not somewhere like Kansas. You get to see all of that when youre on tour. I met people in Kansas whod never seen the ocean. Its a different world out there.
Rather than progressing album by album, Meat Beat progresses track by track. A lot of bands are more cohesive; more consistent. Perhaps thats the key to their success! Im not interested in that because I listen to so many different types of music. Im an A&R mans worst nightmare.
Theres definitely a perception over there that Americans are quite stupid. I think its just jealousy. You have to live somewhere else to see what its really like over there. America has its own problems, though. There is a stringent lack of gun control. Here, presidents get killed and nothing changes.
Lynne on Recording
The magic comes when Jack takes everything home and chops it up.
But does Lynne feel bad when Jack tosses his sweat and soul into a heartless sampler?
Ha! No. I actually like loops.
Does Jack remix others?
Not really. I turn down most offers. I do the good ones for next to nothing.
MBM Invades Jacks Life
Its omnipresent, much to the chagrin of my wife sometimes!
I try to be obscure. Back in the 80s I didnt have as big of a record collection to get so obscure with. Sampling well-known sources is tricky, scary territory. Public Enemy and their lot were into sampling famous songs that were big hits in the first place.
And is Puff Daddy giving sampling an even worse name?
Is that guy even hip hop?
There was always this perception that industrial music with this post-gothic dirge with no beat and lots of guitar in it. Thats not what we think but we were put in that bracket, anyway. People sometimes ask me why industrial music has a bad name. I didnt know it had a bad name. It doesnt have a bad name in my house. Punk died after a year and a half. I dont think industrial ever burnt itself out because the scene just evolved into something else. It never had the chance to burn itself so it cant be trite and is impossible to throw away or dismiss.
Does Jack mind being labeled Industrial?
Not at all. There are elements of industrial in MBM such as distorted vocals, some song content, lyrics about religion, etc. Through the 80s I was obsessed with true industrial music. I collected everything on Throbbing Gristles record label and was really into the Test Dept. and Einsturzende Neaubauten thing. It was real as opposed to Depeche Mode who were unreal.
Cabaret F**kin' Voltaire!
My favorite Cabaret Voltaire album was Voice of America. It definitely shaped what Im doing now. I remember reading their interviews which got me into the bands that they were into Can, John Cage, Stockhausen, etc. Now Im finding that things that were done in the fifties or sixties are sometimes hard to listen to because its just absolute noise. Yet, when I hear half of that stuff, it sounds like someones new record from last week. When I listen to Aphex Twin, it just sounds like old industrial music to me but theres no way it would be called that today. It has to be classified as something else in order to be taken seriously.
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