Andrew Weatherall

Indie dance don and acid house shapeshifter Andrew Weatherall has been around more blocks than there are in Brooklyn. As remixer extraordinaire he made sure Primal Scream’s "Loaded" was the proverbial good time, put dub basslines below the likes of Saint Etienne and ran the London scene’s in-house fanzine, Boy’s Own. But, in the first of many such moves, he split that scene rather than be tied into it. Since then he’s ploughed his own groove, whether as Lord Sabre, Two Lone Swordsmen, producer of Fuck Buttons and ultimately as a solo artist. In this epic interview at the 2011 Red Bull Music Academy he recounts his love of rebel music, analogue technology, outsider status and his disdain for scenesterism. Rhythm, come backwards.

Hosted by Emma Warren Audio Only Version Transcript:

RBMA

 Hello. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Not quite ready.

RBMA:

Oh, I think we’re ready. So greetings from planet Weatherall.

Andrew Weatherall:

It’s a lovely place to be. Speaker: RBMA

 So we’re ready to go. It’s stupid and inane to do an introduction to someone you’re about to have a conversation with, but I think we can suffice to say this is someone with a few decades of experience of idiosyncratic adventures under his belt and you’re about to hear some music and sparkling conversation.

Andrew Weatherall:

Hopefully.

RBMA

 I think so. Although you might go into deadpan mode now and dead it out. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Yeah.

RBMA

 Thanks. The first thing I want to ask you about is that as I was leaving my hotel this morning I was listening to the inaugural John Peel lecture. It was Pete Townsend and he was waffling on quite a bit about how people stealing music meant they were stealing his son’s bicycle. But he did have this interesting idea that John Peel – a Radio1 DJ, for those who don’t know – was all about listening without prejudice. And I wondered whether you think listening in an open way could exist in the Internet age.

Andrew Weatherall

 Well, it does exist. There’s an infinite amount of music out there. But personally speaking, the tyranny of choice kicks in. I try to be open-minded but with so much on offer, I have to have some kind of cultural buffers. Some of them can be quite inane, like, I like the music but the lead singers' shoes aren’t really doing it for me (laughs). That sounds a bit trite and I try to be as open-minded as possible, but you do have to employ some sort of cultural filter because there is so much on offer. There’s rampant John Peel-ism, there is too much choice. There’s too much jam on the shelves.

RBMA

 You were telling me earlier about a scientific study where a supermarket introduced more brands of jam and saw the jam sales plummet.

Andrew Weatherall

 Harvard did it; they basicall approached a supermarket and said, "How many sorts of jam have you got?" "We’ve got five." Gradually, they introduced more until there were 20 different brands of jam. Conversely their sales fell because people went, "Oh, too much jam." Sometimes when you go on the Internet to look for music you get that "too much jam" feeling and you have to start employing cultural filters and be a bit more picky.

RBMA:

You mentioned shoes, semi-jokingly. Do you know what your cultural filters are? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 It depends what sort of music it is. If it’s kind of psych '60s music, and it is treading that line between psych and prog music, then anything more than two time signature changes in a track then I’m out of there. Or more than three or four changes of key and I’m out of there. There are rules that I adapt. With disco music as well there’s a sort of cheese line: if the track strays too far over the cheese line and gets a little cheesy then I’m out of there. It’s little musical notes that are my cut-off point, really.

RBMA

 Obviously, you’re primarily a DJ and you’ve been DJing in clubs for a long time. We are going to talk about you and nightclubs because nightclubs are kind of the incubator of pretty much everything you’ve been involved with, certainly a fair portion of it. But I think a good place to kick off musically is to talk about you and remixes. We will go back in time and talk about some of the early remixes, but can we hear one you’ve done more recently? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

OK, if you really want.

RBMA

 Yes. While you’re selecting something for us, you don’t deal with MP3s do you?

Andrew Weatherall:

I have been known to. The high-res one’s are alright, but I very rarely download stuff. If I walk into a club, I know immediately if a DJ is using Serato and playing MP3s, because to my ears the sound is a little bit harsh in the upper-midrange area. They try to compensate. You get to the mixer and all the EQs are up, they’re trying to put back in the frequencies that have been taken out. And it never works and the sound engineer is scratching his head, "Oh, the soundsystem doesn’t usually sound like this." Go and have a look at what software they’re using, go and have a look at the mixer and that will kind of explain everything. I’m not totally anti them, they’re quite useful to listen to stuff, but I’ll then, if possible, go and hunt the vinyl out. Do you want to hear this? This is a remix of Soft Rocks, who are a balearic-y disco outfit, but not anymore.

(music: Soft Rocks – We Hunt Buffalo Now Andrew Weatherall remix)

You get the general idea.

(applause)

Thank you very much, God bless you all. Believe it or not, I’m quite a big fan of The Cramps(laughs)

RBMA:

You answered that already, but in your head, what were you turning that into? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 The original was kind of a steppers dub tune. There’s not a great deal left of the original, I’ll be honest with you, but when I do a remix, even if it’s a destruction job, there’s still got to be the spirit of the track. It’s a great dub track and we were going to do a dub mix but then we thought, "What’s the point of that? We’ll have two dub mixes." So the bassline is adapted, the bassline is a more standard kind of dub bassline, so we adapted that into a bit more rock ‘n’ roll style. The vocals led me to do it like that, because the vocal is quite an old-school rock ’n’ roll vocal. The trumpets – I always loved A Certain Ratio’s early work with Martin Hannett, those discordant trumpets. My engineer can play the trumpet, but not very well, and he’s really good at discordant trumpet blasts and it’s him playing the bass. With any remix the aim is to retain the original spirit but to turn it into something else. It would help if I had the original here, but you’ll just have to take my word for it – it’s a great track but a pretty straight-up dub track. Speaker: RBMA:

When you say a destruction job but you have to keep the spirit of it, how do you find the spirit of a piece of music? Is it just a piece of music you like or is it approximating a parallel universe version? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 With some, if the track’s totally electronic, then we’ll just do a live cover version. I did a remix for Ricardo Villalobos, I can’t remember the name of the track, but it was – surprise, surprise for Ricardo – a minimal techno track and the bassline sounded like an old Joy Division bassline, so we copied it in a more Joy Division style and then did live drums. But conversely, if I get something that’s live drums, then I go the opposite way. I suppose, it’s an approximation and a cover version of what you’ve been sent. Another good way of doing it, not so much now, but 10, 15 years ago, you’d get all the parts on the DAT. There’d always be written on the DAT: "Tracks 20 to 25 do not use." Guess what we’d use? They’re all the interesting mistakes, the little fuck-ups you can twist and put back in the track. It gives it a little edge to things, I’ve always loved mistakes. It’s the hidden beauty of things in all art. When things are too perfect it can be a little off-putting, but the art I like, whether it’s painting or books, has always got a weird thing in there that shouldn’t be happening. You don’t get it so much now because everything is sent by computer and edited before you get to it. But 10, 15 years ago, everything was sent by DAT and there was always the ones saying "do not use," so that’s the first thing you’d use. Speaker: RBMA

 You mentioned Martin Hannett, and I definitely want to talk about him, but before that can you explain who the "we" is that you’re talking about?

Andrew Weatherall

 Sorry, yeah, I work with an engineer called Tim Fairplay and he was the guitarist in a band called Battant, who are a kind of electro Siouxsie and the Banshees for want of a much better description. Speaker: RBMA:

When we were chatting earlier you described yourself as a producer in the old- school sense of the word. So you work with an engineer when you’re producing and remixing. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Yeah, I never claim to be a technical wizard. Obviously, over the years my technical ability has improved. But I’ve always taken a bit of a back seat, because I enjoy working with people and learning stuff. Also, if you’re sitting at home reading manuals you can’t go out to clubs and listen to records. So I’ve always kept a bit of a distance. In the '50s and '60s the producer was allied to… It’s like a film producer, in charge of getting everything together. The producer’s in charge of everything behind the camera, the director’s in charge of everything in front of the camera. In the '50s and '60s the producer arranged the sessions, he’d know what session musicians to bring in, if they played in a certain style, what studios to put them in, he’d come up with string arrangements or know who to call in for string arrangements. From day one, because my first foray into the studio was as an ideas person, because I straddled two worlds, the world of disco music and indie music. When I did "Hallelujah" withPaulOakenfold, the reason I was brought in was because he came from a soul background, whereas I came from more of a punk, post-punk, indie background, so I was brought in as an advisor and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years, really.

RBMA:

The funny thing about that, we were talking earlier about how during acid house you heard a massive range of music, certainly in London. In Manchester and Leeds you might have just heard just Chicago house music and obviously in Chicago you heard other stuff, Chicago house, whatever. But certainly in London you’d hear other stuff and I remember this particular track called "The Bells Track" 'cause it had bells in it. And none of us knew what they were, but it was really interesting for me to hear that some of the DJs on that scene didn’t necessarily know what the records were.

Andrew Weatherall

 No, all those early DJs, Johnny Walker, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, they were kind of soul boys, basically. They came from the soul and disco scene and I suppose '86/'87 they went out to Ibiza and heard Alfredo playing. He was playing a mad mixture of early house stuff, and he’d be throwing in stuff like The Residents and The Woodentops. Rampling and Oakenfold knew they liked those records but it’s not the world they were from. So they bought those records and brought them back to London and tried to recreate Amnesia in Streatham High Road, which is some job if you’ve seen Streatham High Road. That’s what attracted me at first to early acid house. At 24 I was a jaded clubber, I’d been going to clubs for 10 years and was a bit bored with rare groove. If you’ve been going out at weekends to Throbbing Gristle gigs and A Certain Ratio, rare groove isn’t going to really cut it. I’ve always been confused, "Am I a punk rocker or am I a soul boy?" And those early acid house clubs were ideal because they had a kind of disco element but they also had a harder post-punk indie element to them, which is what attracted me in the first place.

RBMA

 So clubs definitely have been an important part all the way through for you. You said by 24 you were a jaded clubber. So where was your 14-year-old self going out? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Oh, soul weekenders, disco clubs. I was into Brit funk,OlympicRunners and Hi Tension, things like that. I liked that scene and it was at the same time as punk was happening, disco sucks, and all that kind of carried on, but I never saw that because soul clubs were always great places. You could dress up. I hate to break it to you, because punk was a very political scene, but the initial punk scene in London was a load of bored soul boys who liked dressing up. And that’s what I was at the age of 14, a kind of bored soul boy that liked dressing up. Speaker: RBMA:

You were a 14-year-old, so bored, so young. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Let me talk you through the look: it was a peroxide wedge with a black underneath, pegged trousers, rubber sandals and a mohair jumper. That early punk thing, with the mohair jumpers, was a throwback from the soul scene. You could go to those things without fear. Obviously, you ran the risk of being beaten up on your way to the club, but once inside you were quite safe. Speaker: RBMA:

Fashion in the '80s in London could definitely get you beaten up, couldn’t it?

Andrew Weatherall

 Try fashion in the late '70s in Berkshire! Moving to London, cosmopolitan city, yeah, risky. But walking around a small Berkshire town with blue hair and matching blue tartan trousers in 1978 was, yeah, quite a risk. Speaker: RBMA

 But this was a risk you continue to enjoy. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

You mean the, um, you want that anecdote?(laughs) Speaker: RBMA:

That’s up to you.

Andrew Weatherall

 Are we steering away from music?

RBMA:

You brought up fashion, not me.

Andrew Weatherall

 I’ll keep that one for later.

RBMA

 Maybe, maybe, maybe. Let’s get back to some music. Is there another recent remix you want to play us before we start heading into the depths of beyond?

Andrew Weatherall

 The depths of beyond? What does that entail?

RBMA

 The olden days.

Andrew Weatherall

 Did you express an interest in Wooden Shjips?

RBMA:

Yeah. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 OK, let’s hear the Wooden Shjips. This is a track called "Crossing" off their latest album. I don’t know whether it’s going to be released or what’s happening with it. It’s eight minutes long so I’ll edit it, spare you the full eight minutes.

(music: Wooden Shjips – Crossing Andrew Weatherall remix / applause)

You get the general idea. It’s the same formula as the last one, which is basically a gas-powered drummachine, a Roland space echo, which we have on all the time, and then an arpeggio, courtesy of an MS-20 sequencer. Again, a bit broken and liable to fall apart at any time. But that’s our formula – tape echo and old machines on the verge of giving up the ghost.

RBMA

 So if that’s the recipe for the remixes you’re doing at the moment, what was the recipe for the early remixes? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 It’s the recipe at the moment because that’s what we’ve got in the studio. We collect lots of tape echoes and tape delays. But early on, my first forays into studios were proper studios, big studios, and they had the latest samplers, all very daunting. The early stuff was all very sample-based. Indie dance was basically just slinging a funk breakbeat under a rock band. That’s pretty much what it was. But it depends what studio I’m in, what kit I’ve got, whether I’m in my own studio. I’m not precious about stuff. There’s a certain sound I like you can only get using old tape echoes and guitar amps, you know, a Fender Twin, which is pretty good, a standard rock 'n' roll guitar amp. But we use computers for sequencing and drums. That’s a Simmons kit, but it’s a sample of. We’re not averse to using samples. A lot of time when I do interviews people say, "So you’re a bit of a Luddite?" No, that would be stupid to totally dismiss the digital element of remixing because it’s very handy. David Toop, the music journalist, used a great term: he called it actuality, where music seems to exist somewhere other than within the computer. Our way of doing that for the last 10 years or so is to put it through some valves or a reel-to-reel, just take it out of the computer, even if you’re going back in again, just give it some air. If you’re recording something, even if it’s just one element, if it’s a synth, put it through an amp, record it with a mic, so you’ll get the room as well. It may not seem like you’re doing a lot, but the end result… I always get kids coming up to me and saying, "I’ve done a track, but it just doesn’t sound right." And that’s always my answer to them. Take it out of the computer, buy an old reel-to-reel, run it through that. Buy something old with valves, even if it doesn’t work, but the valves are still operating. And then put it back into the computer. That’s why it sounds like it does. Our studio is a world of echo. Speaker: RBMA

 So this is quite a big difference with the world of echo which you’ve developed and built over the years and the young you walking into a big studio and being told to do a remix. Is that how it worked? Did you go into a studio to do a remix?

Andrew Weatherall:

Yeah, basically. When Orson Welles was asked, "How did you makeCitizen Kane" – not that I’m likening myself to the great man – "when you were 23?" He said it was the confidence of ignorance. He didn’t really know what the rules were. That’s what it was like going into the studio at 24, 25. It was daunting, but I didn’t know what the rules were and I used that ignorance it to my advantage. I’d say, "Can we do this?" They say no. I said, "Let’s do it then." It was that gung-ho and I didn’t know I was breaking the rules because I didn’t know what the rules were. As you get on and know more about how the studio works, how the machines work, sometimes you lose that bit of confidence. The more you educate yourself, the more you realise how uneducated you are.

RBMA

 The reverse of getting knowledge. When you listen to those early remixes now do you ever listen to them? Do you play them out as a gift to the people who are listening? Or are they strictly out of bounds for you?

Andrew Weatherall

 Well, they were up until about five or six years ago, but as I learned more about production techniques I’d hear it and think, "That drummachine’s looped a bit wrong," or, "That shouldn’t happen." With "Loaded," the classic case in point. If it was here I could point out all the mistakes, the drums are lopped wrongly. As I said earlier, it’s about finding those mistakes in other people’s stuff as an entry in. It’s that naïveté that means they still resonate today. It can make them more timeless as well because you’ve not laboured over the programming too much. You’ve just gone in and said, "Right, do that, that’s the beat." It makes them a bit more functional. It’s that naïveté I’m beginning to warm to. There was a stage, as I was learning more about the studio and I was a bit snotty about the productions I’d done, "Oh they’re a bit simple." But that’s the thing people like about them.

RBMA:

Absolutely. The wonders of YouTube mean we could easily listen to a My Bloody Valentine or a Primal Scream should you want to. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Whatever you want, you’re in charge. Speaker: RBMA

 I think it’s a My Bloody Valentine moment then. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Is it?

RBMA:

Or is it not?

Andrew Weatherall

 I don’t know. Was that a shout for something? Did someone just shout neither? Speaker: RBMA:

Who said neither? I’ve been getting requests all morning. Naff off the lot of you. Right, I got it ready somewhere. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 This track, I’d not heard it for years, but about five or six years ago I was at a festival and heard it on a very big soundsystem and thought, "This is actually not too bad and the young people seem to like it as well." The phrase I hear every weekend from DJs when they go on after me with Serato is, "Why’s that not working then?" (laughs)

(music: My Bloody Valentine – Soon (Andrew Weatherall remix))

RBMA:

That’s not the one. See, the Internet’s rubbish, isn’t it?

Andrew Weatherall

 It is. Do you want me to talk you through that one?

RBMA

 No.

Andrew Weatherall

 Let’s move on. Speaker: RBMA

 One thing I wanted to ask you about "Loaded," the Primal Scream stuff, is the line between remix and production, which gets a bit skewed. There is not much of a difference between the two. But the Robert Johnson line, which Bobby Gillespie re-sang, is that right?

Andrew Weatherall

 What? "We wanna get loaded"?

RBMA

 No, 'cause that’s from the film. This is going nowhere as well. Once you’ve had a YouTube disaster the whole thing is just off. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

That’s a great start, it’s sowed a seed in my head of total destruction. I did a first version of it, on which I just basically slung a kickdrum under the original. I was a bit scared, I thought they’d be all precious about their baby, their artwork. I did the version, Andrew Innes from the band came down, listened to it, said, "Aye, it’s not bad, but just fucking destroy it." That were his words in a broad Glaswegian accent. To have that said to you – it’s been ringing in my head for 20 years – that made me realise bands may not be quite so precious about their art. It transpires that some of them are quite precious about their art (laughter). But that was the case in point with My Bloody Valentine. Members of the band came down to see what I was dong and to their credit they just wanted to see what the process was, they weren’t precious. But there have been bands, usually the drummer for some reason, probably because it’s usually his stuff I want to get rid of first. Or make his drums into a shorter loop. But I soon made it very clear that I wouldn’t stand for musicians in the studio while I was working, something I stand by today. I have them in one at a time and for as short a time as possible.

RBMA

 You took part in the Screamadelica 20th anniversary tour. How was that?

Andrew Weatherall

 It was great. There was a lot riding on it for them; if they’d maintained their lifestyle, shall we say, they had 20 years ago it would’ve been a shambles. But I knew it was going to be good when the at first night backstage, rather than various underworld figures chopping out coke on a table, there was a huge basket of fruit and vegetables and a juicer. Bobby’s very, very focused. Whenever I do an interview about Primal Scream, people want to know crazy anecdotes, but Bobby’s very focused and knows if you want to carry on doing what you love doing, once you get to a certain age, if you carry on with that lifestyle, it’s not going to happen. So they were very focused and they got the sound right, they spent a lot of time getting it right. It was a joy to watch. I loved them 20 years ago, they were one of those bands that were great, because you thought at any minute they could fall on their arse. A few years after that they were either the best band in the world you’d ever seen or without doubt the worst. They’ve harnessed the energy from those times but without the pharmaceuticals.

RBMA

 The funny thing for me about them doing a reunion tour is… I know it wasn’t a reunion because they didn’t split, but I’m interested in how you can be into old music, i.e. a kind of nostalgia, and still keep it raw and relevant and not nostalgic. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 But Screamadelica still resonates 20 years later. I think it’s a quite timeless record. If you’re doing an album that’s rooted in a certain era… although that album is rooted in acid house, it still resonates with future generations. If you’re doing something timeless then fair enough, that’s going to work. But if you’re doing an album that’s pinpointed to a certain time, then you’re just going to get a certain old school audience. You were at Olympia, it was 14 to 60, right across the generations, which I think is why it worked. I think it’s a timeless record. Speaker: RBMA

 So moving away from that period of time, to an area you’ve mined more recently… we could spend two hours talking about that one thing.

Andrew Weatherall

 But we’d be the only two left after about an hour and a half.

(laughter)

RBMA

 Can we talk about rockabilly a minute? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 We can, we can. Rock ‘n’ roll was the first music that made me go funny and gave me goosebumps, when I was about 11, which was 1974. It was a two-pronged rock 'n' roll attack. There was the film That’ll Be The Day, which was the transition from late-'50s rock ‘n’ roll to rhythm and blues and had a great classic rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. But there was also a bit of a rock 'n' roll revival going on in the mid-'70s as well. As soon as I first heard glam, I knew it was basic rock 'n' roll with spangly trousers and silly hats and stuff, so I made that connection. So that’s the first music that really moved me, classic mid- to late-'50s rock ‘n’ roll. I was only 11, so I didn’t know where it had come from. It was only later, after I discovered The Cramps, that led me to rockabilly which took me back to pre-rock 'n' roll as we know it.

RBMA

 So you’ve been doing rockabilly sets. I saw you do one at the Port Elliot festival. Are you booked to do those or are you playing rockabilly in your space disco sets? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 You have to be quite careful. People want me to play an eclectic set, "Start with rockabilly then go into house and techno." I’d love to say that it works. In my world it works, but in most people’s worlds it doesn’t. I can see the links between rockabilly and disco. The way the guitarist plays, it’s like a percussive style and it inhabits a time and space all of its own. You listen to certain rockabilly records, like Johnny Burnette, the guitar just hangs in this weird time and space. It’s the same with great disco records, it’s this weird guitar style you can’t put your finger on where it is timing-wise. That’s my link when people say, "How can you like rockabilly and how can you like disco?" They’re both dance music and they have that percussive sound that just hangs in its own mysterious time and space.

RBMA

 Have you got any of your rockabilly stuff with you?

Andrew Weatherall:

No.

RBMA

 Great.

Andrew Weatherall

 Well, I got the call yesterday to bring some music. It was sadly too late unless you want to trawl the internet for some Johnny Burnette. Speaker: RBMA:

Well, I have got some stuff from there but I’m now a bit nervous about trying.

Andrew Weatherall

 Yes, it was a debacle last time you tried. (laughs)

RBMA

 We could attempt one more debacle. You said you like mistakes.

Andrew Weatherall

 It’s up to you. Speaker: RBMA

 While I’m having a look for something, to see if it’s actually going to work, do you think your natural interest in music is slightly less mined than the mainstream?

Andrew Weatherall

 I’m not wilfully obscure. Glam rock was pop music, chart music. I’ve got nothing against pop music whatsoever. When I was 16 I was going to Throbbing Gristle gigs, but I was also quite partial a bit to Bananarama; "CheersThen" is great. Speaker: RBMA

 This isn’t going too well. So you’ll have to make some rockabilly recommendations. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Just search for Johnny Burnette, rockabilly music. Speaker: RBMA

 No, the computer’s not having it. So you’re DJing tomorrow somewhere. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 In Lyon. Speaker: RBMA

 And obviously you still DJ all over the place and you’re doing your night as well at the moment. So let’s go there in our minds.

Andrew Weatherall

 I do a clubnight called A Love From Outer Space, which is named after a track by AR Kane, the forgotten boys of English post-punk. They were part of MARRS, who did "Pump Up The Volume." It’s a track I've loved for ages and a name I’ve wanted to steal for quite some time. The club is 100 people in a basement of a bar, it’s pretty downtempo. The motto is never knowingly exceeding 120 bpms. It’s also been described as – I did a set recently at a festival in Croatia and a lad came up to me and said, "What do you call this music?" "I don’t know." "I think I’m going to call it drug- chug." So we’ve got a drug-chug club in Stoke Newington called A Love From Outer Space. I don’t like the word cosmic disco because it’s been overused. We play the odd re-edit, but it’s mainly new music around 100-110 bpm kind of spacy dubby disco music. Speaker: RBMA

 You ran clubs at various points in your… I’m loathe to use the word career. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 You know I don’t like that word. My job. There’s a big difference between job and career.

RBMA

 Perhaps you’d like to break down your views on the difference between a job and a career. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

If you’re involved in art in any way and you describe what you do as a job, people think you’re somehow demeaning it. They think that somehow art lives in this ethereal world without much basis in it actually working. But it always has been a job to me. It’s a great job but I treat it like a job of work. It’s why I don’t have my studio in my house, it’s because I like to think I’m going to work. I get up in the morning and I go somewhere to work. But there’s a big difference between that and a career, I’ve never thought of it as a career. I’ve never had a career plan where I’ve thought, "In five years’ time I must be at this point on the ladder." Careerism in art in general, not just in music, is a dangerous thing. If your plan isn’t working you can start cutting corners and you may make artistic decisions based on money or where you should be on the career ladder.

RBMA

 So you’ve got this club at the moment. At the very beginning when you started off Boy’s Own, which was a fanzine and then became a label, you put on parties rather than clubnights.

Andrew Weatherall

 Yeah, that was pre-acid house. We put on parties without much success, but by default Boy’s Own became the in-house magazine of acid house. We put on parties, some of which have become pretty seminal. We put on one in East Grinstead on the shores of a lake, which was good. There was one, where we didn’t know that the land we’d rented from the farmer belonged to the Queen, but apparently it did. And I remember afterwards being hounded by The Sun trying to get comments, "How dare you hold an acid house rave on Her Majesty’s land?" The answer, "Didn’t know, guv, honest," wasn’t good enough for them. A few years later I did a rave Sabresonic. We put on the first ever Chemical Brothers gig, they played on the roof of the cloakroom because there wasn’t enough [space]. The stage was set up, we couldn’t put them on the stage. I don’t know whether it was a question of room or whether perversely we thought it’d be funny to have them play on top of the cloakroom. Probably the latter. We had Richie Hawtin playing early gigs, Alter Ego playing early gigs. It infused the sound I was making in the studio, which is where I think we’re going with this line of questioning. The Love From Outer Space has pretty much infused all the remixes I’ve done for the last 18 months. I make the records and remixes with the club in mind. If you’re making dance remixes you have to be at the coalface and playing in clubs every weekend. This is specifically the first club in about five years to actually infuse the sound of the sound I’m making in the studio.

RBMA

 I do want to know how the music you hear in clubs ends up in the studio, but I’m also interested to know what makes to you a good club. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 The obvious: a good soundsystem; a lighting man who’s not too overzealous, because you play some places and at four/five in the morning, you don’t want to be seeing the person opposite you or them seeing you; a dark room with probably 2-300 people tops; a well-balanced soundsystem you can feel in your chest but isn’t hurting your ears. The basics, really, a good, mixed clientele. You don’t too many shaven-headed blokes with obscure techno label t-shirts – that was a part of my career about 15 years ago.

RBMA

 During the techno phase.

Andrew Weatherall:

I’m thinking of the Orbit in Morley in particular. Speaker: RBMA

 The Orbit was a legendary techno club in the UK that had a reputation for being quite hardcore.

Andrew Weatherall

 It was very hardcore. Because of where it was, Morley, the old industrial heartland of Yorkshire, the heart of which had been ripped out over the years. It was still quite hard and intense. If you go to the Orbit and you’re a success, it’s like getting your techno wings. I remember playing my first night there. They liked it quite fast, so I had everything at plus-eight on the decks. I thought I was doing alright. Then I could hear someone shouting behind me and I turned round and there was this huge Yorkshire bodybuilder behind me, top off, bright red, sweating like a dinner lady, and he shouted the words: "Faster, you fucker!" And that was my welcome to the Orbit (laughter).

RBMA:

I always liked the fact that when Juan Atkins played they used to call him Joanne. "Joanne Atkins! One more!" Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

There’s no fancy Spanish names in Morley.

RBMA

 There was definitely a period when you were making a lot of techno and putting out techno records and supporting what seems like a forgotten area of time. Two Lone Swordsmen records, also Audio Emissions, I haven’t listened back to those records for some time, but it was definitely a period. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 I specialised a lot more, I got into DJing by default. When I first started I wasn’t a DJ, just someone who played records. Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold knew I had these weird indie-based records so I’d get called up to play at six in the morning when everyone was trolleyed. I’d play everything from Chris & Cosey, dub records, all sorts of stuff. Then as I began to get booked by other clubs, because I was associated with the club Shoom, they’d put me on earlier and I had to learn how to mix, I went more down the house and techno route. Then after four or five years of that I learned how to specialise even more. The techno records of the time were great, they reminded me of the industrial sound I listened to 1979/’80. So I went down that route. Speaker: RBMA

 Into a techno tunnel. No, not a tunnel. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Well, thankfully there was light at the end of it. Speaker: RBMA:

One thing we have to talk about is the more recent productions. It’s a good time to talk about Fuck Buttons, because you produced their second album. Then perhaps we can talk about how you made that leap from production to being in a band. But, Fuck Buttons, can you tell us how you got involved with them and then let’s play a track? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 I liked their first album and unbeknownst to me I knew their manager. He found out I liked their first record, put it to the band – I say band, but it’s two blokes and a suitcase – he put it to them and they were very into it. I thought that’s good. It’s not like you’re going to have to put up with drummers and lead vocalists. It is two men, all the equipment fitted into two suitcases. It was all old Casiotones and old bits and pieces. I don’t want to give away their sound too much. The hardest thing to do, because all their stuff was so old, it was hard getting it all to sync up – that took us about a week. I said to them, "Do your set as if you’re doing it live, but do it three times. Song one: do it once, there’ll be a few mistakes. Second time you’ll kind of nail it. Third time you’ll be a bit bored and start fiddling about with stuff. And we’ll do a composite of the three takes. We’ll leave some mistakes in, we’ll leave some twiddly bits in, but use the second mix as the basis, the one where you nail it, and we’ll hang everything else off it." I say it was relatively painless but everyone who’s heard that album is blown away by its intensity. I say to them, "Imagine having to listen to it every day, 12 hours for a month." When I first left school I had manual jobs, building sites, stuff like that. It was the same feeling when I got home in the evening after a Fuck Buttons session it was the same feeling that I remember after a day on the building site. Speaker: RBMA

 Instead of carrying bricks you were carrying sound. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 It was a harsh experience, shall we say. Speaker: RBMA:

What do you think, "Surf Solar"?

Andrew Weatherall:

Go on. It obviously won’t be so bludgeoning with this dreadful soundsystem you’ve got here. Oh, now it works.

(music: Fuck Buttons – Surf Solar)

Is that enough of that?

(applause)

The thing is their first album was great, but it was pretty much their live set, which they just recorded. I said, "That’s the feeling I want to get, but just take it to the next level. Make it a little more produced, not soften the rough edges, but add some slight production value to it rather than just recording your live set." And that’s what we did. We toughened them up a little more rhythmically and processed the sounds to make it a little bigger. It was physically hard work but at the same time I enjoyed the process because they’ve got quite a vision so they quite easy to work with. Speaker: RBMA

 And how long did that take? I know you said it was three takes a track. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 It took four weeks. The first week was getting everything together, to sync up and work out how we were going to do it. The next three was just going there, playing it three maybe four times. Then we kind of comped things up. They would suggest things, I would say no and everybody was happy. Speaker: RBMA

 You’ve also had that experience of being in a band, being onstage. Usually people do that first, then do other stuff. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 That’s midlife crises for you (laughs). Speaker: RBMA:

Do you think it’s good to challenge yourself?

Andrew Weatherall

 That was the whole point of it. I’d been making music for 15/20 years, in a reasonably comfortable position, a bit of an underground ghetto, where it’s very easy to sit around in a studio saying how rubbish everything was, criticising everything. But then it dawned on me, well, this is all well and good but it’s a little too comfortable. What can I do? The artistic equivalent of taking your clothes off and running up and standing on top of the hill, arms and legs akimbo, while everybody looks at you. I’d sung in bands as a teenager and thought you can’t get more upfront than that, actually being in band and singing. It wasn’t artistic, it was personal as well. There were things going on in my life that I won’t go into obviously, but I needed to shape myself up a bit, to stand up and give people a chance to throw vegetables.

RBMA:

I’m going to see if I can make this work, a track off the A Pox On The Pioneers album. But what was your teenage band? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

God, what were they called? Actually, I better not tell you ‘cause you’ll find it. I was a Factory records obsessive, so we were very bad A Certain Ratio impersonators.

RBMA

 Did you have people with whistles at your gigs, wearing shorts?

Andrew Weatherall

 It was a kind of Hitler Youth haircut, German army vest, big shorts à la A Certain Ratio and I played timbales as well, ‘cause they were a big part of the A Certain Ratio sound. And we were called (draws hand in front of face) A Fractured Touch.

(laughter)

Then we changed our name to The Other Side. Dreadful.

RBMA

 Excellent. Let’s give this a little spin.

(music: unknown) Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

No, that’s not how it should sound. Sounds like a Kevin Shields remix.

RBMA

 Perhaps he’s done the same thing for you. So you were in bands, then two years ago you did this album by yourself, under your own name.

Andrew Weatherall

 Yeah, pretty much. It was a collaborative process, but I was more in control. I’ve actually written a lot more of the music and the songs, lyrically. The process started with the Two Lone Swordsmen album, don’t know what year, but that was the start of the process and it just carried on. I got back into more structured songwriting and that’s how A Pox On The Pioneers came about.

RBMA

 And is there another one coming? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 There’s another one recorded but that won’t see the light of day because I fell out with the person I recorded it with. But I’m quite pleased, not that I fell out with him, but that I’m now one of the people who’ve got a record that’s lost, the myth of which far outweighs actually how good it is. It’s my version of Dennis Wilson’sBambu album, which leaks out over the years and whose myth far outweighs any critical worth it may have. Speaker: RBMA

 So if there’s not another album coming immediately… Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 I’m working on another. Partly due to the Screamadelica 20 years thing, and obviously backed up by my prodigious talent, has meant I’ve been offered lots of remixes over the past two years. So I’ve been concentrating on that. The fickle wheel of show business goes ‘round and ‘round and it points to you every now and again so I capitalise on that and earn some money. Then when you fall out of favour you can sit in your studio for a year, producing your own stuff, knowing you can pay the rent and hoping you can produce a good record that puts you back into the wheel of show business, which goes 'round ad infinitum for the past 20 years. So I’ve been doing lots of remixes but at the same time working on my own stuff. I’ve got a body of work, which at the moment is mostly instrumentals, which I’ll then disappear in my  studio and write vocals and songs for.

RBMA:

But you’ve done a number of compilations over the years from Nine O’clock Drop, which preceeded the general interest in post-punk, then the rockabilly compilation. Now you’ve got another one coming out very soon.

Andrew Weatherall

 Yeah, I’m doing one for Ministry Of Sound, which is basically Love From Outer Space-orientated. It’s three CDs. The first one is all my remixes mixed together for the first hour. The second two CDs are more representative of the club and it ends with the original AR Kane version. A DJ journey, if you will (laughs). No, let’s not use that horribly overused phrase. Speaker: RBMA

 Do you have anything with you that’s going to end up on the compilation?

Andrew Weatherall

 No. Oh, I might have my version of Love From Outer Space.

RBMA

 That would be good.

Andrew Weatherall:

There might be some hardcore AR Kane fans I’ll upset with this, but I think we’ve done a reasonably good job. I was very, very pleased with my cover of Gun Club’s"SexBeat", which is one of my favourite tracks. David Holmes, when he was living in New York, was playing it in a club and who should walk in but Kid Congo Powers, guitarist with Gun Club and later The Cramps. He came up and asked David whose version it was and how great it was, which is one of the highlights of my showbusiness career, getting the nod from an ex-member of the Gun Club. This is "Love From Outer Space."

(music: Andrew Weatherall – A Love From Outer Space / applause)

Thank you so much. I must say, featuring some of my finest tambourine work I think I’ve ever done.

RBMA:

Now you’re best known as a DJ, although the other work is there in an equal capacity.

Andrew Weatherall

 A polymath, if you will. Speaker: RBMA:

A polymath, indeed, a renaissance man, but I imagine you’re someone who has more favourite bands than DJs.

Andrew Weatherall

 Oh, absolutely. Speaker: RBMA

 So what for you makes a great band great?

Andrew Weatherall

 They’ve got to look good, they’ve got to come across like a gang and they’ve got to mean it. Pretty basic. It’s back to that careerist thing. I’ve got to listen to them and think this band couldn’t possibly do anything else but this. You listen to The Cramps and think, "Well, they’re not fit for normal employment." It’s the same with The Clash, with Joy Division, any number of my favourite bands. These people are doing it because they absolutely have to, there was no other thing they could possibly do and they’ve got to do this. Whether it kills them or makes them millionaires, they’ve got to be doing it.

RBMA

 The same is true for you, I guess. I can’t imagine you’d be doing anything other than music in some shape or form, even if it’s just for a small amount of people. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Possibly. If someone said to me, "I’m gonna sponsor you, I’m going to pay your living expenses and wages for the next five years and set you up in a painting and printing studio," it’d be a tough [call] – I know you shouldn’t really say this to people at the Red Bull Music Academy, that given enough money and enough oil paints you’d knock it on the head. But that would be a tough choice to make. I tried to get into art school ‘cause I thought that’s where all the outcasts went to form a band, wear daft trousers and have a daft haircut. And it was up until two years before I applied to St Martin’s; it had become a bit more professional, a bit more focused, as that’s always been a big interest, as well as music. But I’ve got so much music in the blood that I guess I’d be doing a painting or a print and hear something on the radio and think, "I need to get back in the studio." Speaker: RBMA

 Or down the record shop. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Exactly. Speaker: RBMA:

You’ve been making art. Did you start off doing the lino cutting and then move into doing other stuff?

Andrew Weatherall

 Again it’s all part of the therapy. I needed something to focus on because I had stuff going on in my life that bordered on the life threatening. I’d not done art for a long time, so I needed something to focus on, so I thought I’d start painting again. The great thing about painting is your mind can wander in a good and bad way. I thought, ‘What’s the medium that involves sharp implements in the danger of cutting yourself?’ I thought lino print would do because it’s quite a precise art and it’s two artforms for the price of one. It’s very sculptural when you are actually doing it, you have to concentrate on it. Take your mind off and it’s very, very painful. But there’s also the joy of printing because no two prints are exactly the same. Maybe if you’ve got a proper old printer, but I was working on a hand-roller printing, so the textures I was getting were different. So it worked on a couple of levels, it was very sculptural and very pleasing doing the physical printing. So I did a club with Ivan Smagghe called Wrong Meeting and I used to handprint the posters, which was a great idea until people realised they were hand-printed posters and they used to last about 10 minutes. It’s quite flattering. I still get people who’ll sidle up to me and I’ll know what they’re going to say, they’ll get that look and say, "I’m sorry, but…" "You nicked all the posters, didn’t you?" The best one was when I did a print of two girls on a 1950s motorbike and it was up on a wall on a quite busy road up in North London. My office got a call saying, "My husband has just come out of intensive care because he was riding home from work on his motorbike and he saw the poster and liked it so much that he didn’t see the car stopping in front of him. He ended up in intensive care and I’d quite like to give him a poster." Which is insane. Imagine him waking up from intensive care and his wife going, "Look, I’ve got this for you darling."

(laughter) Speaker: RBMA

 I want to ask you something about record shops, but first, you read a lot, don’t you? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Yeah, that’s my relaxation. That’s the joy of separating work from home. I’ve got quite a big studio lined with records where I can listen at any volume I like 'cause it’s in the basement for 10/12 hours a day. So the last thing I want to do when I come home is listen to music. I’ve got a pretty vast library, I’m quite a obsessive book buyer. I know I’m not going to have the time to read it there and then, but I’ll buy it and put it in a library, whether it’s a reference book or history or even a novel, especially pulp novels; they are really good when you’re writing a song. They’re the ideal things to plagiarise, really. The way they were written, they had to appeal to the common man, they had to get the point across and be very descriptive in one line, as opposed to the flowery prose of a Henry James from the 19th century. They had to make their point very simply and that’s what a really good song is about, making that point and making it very simply poetically. Raymond Chandler and books of that era, and film noir as well, I’ve stolen and adapted many a line from films of the late '50s, purely because they’re the masters of that very precise description of love, death, etc. Speaker: RBMA:

I guess adapting is kind of your MO. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Yeah, I wouldn’t be the first person in music to steal stuff. Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin made a very nice career out of it. Speaker: RBMA

 In terms of music, just for one second, you’re DJing all the time, you’ve always got loads of different music to play. You’re a very surprising DJ in that you never know what you’re going to get when you come and see you play. Where do you get your music from? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 In terms of dance stuff, usually either Black Market or Phonica in London. They’re very near each other. I make life difficult for myself because I buy vinyl, but when I get back to the studio and listen to it I record it onto CD with an analogue line. I’ve got probably the world’s last CD recorder. This one’s on the way out and I went out and tried to buy a CD recorder and people looked at me like I’d come from another planet. You can get a CD player, but not a CD recorder. But it means you get vinyl quality without having to lug hundreds of records around, which in my physical condition can only be a good thing.

RBMA

 We’re going to put it out for questions very shortly. But can you tell us a bit about some collaborations that are underway or maybe forthcoming? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 I’ve produced some demos for someone called Pete Molinari. Are you aware of his work? He recorded his first album in Billy Childish’s kitchen. Speaker: RBMA

 There’s a Chatham connection there, isn’t there? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Yes, he’s a Chatham boy. He’s got a beautiful voice somewhere between Patsy Cline and an early Bob Dylan. Very underrated, but he’s true to his art. It’d be very easy for him to go to a big record company for them to market him as the next big singer-songwriter, but he doesn’t want to go down that route. So I said, "Stick to me, kid, and you’ll not sell any records. Perfect. Everybody’s happy."

(laughter)

I took demos, some of which he’d recorded with Liam Watson, and basically tarted them up without destroying them too much. I did three demos. I don’t know what’s going to become of it. The last thing before that was the Warpaint album, which was last year. Speaker: RBMA

 Someone else you said you might be working with, someone you met recently in your local surrounds. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Oh, Sam the Sandwich Shop man. In my local sandwich shop I noticed there was someone working there who looked like he might be a pop star, he was 18, 19. He looked the part and the people in the shop knew I worked in music so they got us together. He’s at Westminster School of Music and he writes a good pop ditty. Again, he could go down that commercial route and he could be another – I can’t even form the words, I find them difficult to even say those words – Ed Sheeran. They could market him as that young modern pop singer but he doesn’t want that. So again he’s going to stick with me and watch his career nosedive and sell 1.000 records. Speaker: RBMA

 And become a cult property shortly afterwards.

Andrew Weatherall

 And loathe and despise me for the rest of his life. But that’s the way he wants to go.

RBMA

 One more thing before we pass it out. Brian Eno has the term "scenius" to describe the genius of a scene…

Andrew Weatherall

 I see what he’s done there. He’s added two words together.

RBMA:

Yeah, but it’s a brilliant concept. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Don’t get me started on that one.

RBMA

 OK, you might not like two words sandwiched together, but it is a brilliant idea. It definitely describes some scenes I’ve been involved with where you’re part of something that you know has got this internal power. The joining together of people from different places around an interest, or this project with this desire to do something, can sometimes create an environment which means things can happen that couldn’t have happened anywhere outside of that environment. You’ve been involved in a number of things over your life that I would imagine have had that feeling. Out of all of the things you’ve been involved in, which one would you say has had that feeling to the greatest extent?

Andrew Weatherall:

I’ve never liked the word "scene"; "scenester" is a bit of a derogatory term, I don’t like scenes. You said when we were talking earlier, "You tend to end things abruptly." Whenever I get associated with a scene, whenever I read in a music magazine that I’m part of some scene, then I’m out of there, I’ll go and do something else. But then I’m not part of that scene anyway. I don’t go and change musical direction, just sidestep. I get lumped into things because I’ve been around for 20 years. You do things like Nine O’clock Drop, I’m responsible for the post-punk scene. Journalists will go to a certain club and hear me do a set and all of a sudden I’m part of this scene. Or I’m part of the rockabilly revival because a journalist has heard me play a rockabilly set, when I’ve been playing it for 10 or 15 years. A lot of me being involved with scenes is down to lazy journalism – not from yourself, obviously, heaven forbid – but I’m not one of those people that looks back with rose-tinted glasses. I had a great time at acid house, and if I could point my finger, that was the first time I felt I was part of something. Although I grew up with punk rock, I was only 13 in 1976, so the scene was older guys, older teenagers. So although I loved punk I wasn’t part of the scene and I didn’t live in London, I lived in the suburbs. So when house – it wasn’t even acid house; Shoom wasn’t a house club, it played everything – that was the first time I felt part of a scene. It was only 150/200 people, the early acid house scene in London, and I felt part of that. And I was writing a fanzine that was the in-house fanzine. Then I got a little bit precious and up myself, shall we say, because once you get involved with a scene you get a bit snotty and resenting outsiders and johnny-come-latelys. You get a bit possessive, instead of being broadminded you get a bit close-minded. That’s where my hatred of the word "scene" comes from. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s myself, that attitude I had when I was 24, 25 that I don’t like, that I associate with "scenesterism."

RBMA

 So if you find yourself in the center of something people are calling a scene, that’s your moment to get out? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

It doesn’t affect me, I still make the music I make, but I try and distance myself. If a magazine phones up and says, "We’re doing an article about this scene," you just politely decline. So you gradually get whittled out, your name isn’t associated with that scene. But if you’re a DJ and someone says you’re in a scene and you go, "Oh, yeah, I’ll talk about that," then you’re forever associated with that scene. But I sidestep it. I’m not that bloody- minded that because people are into something that’s called a scene then I’m going to do something else. It’s easy to disassociate yourself by not getting involved in any media hype along the way. Speaker: RBMA:

There’s obviously a big difference between how things are in reality and how they’re presented to the outside world.

Andrew Weatherall:

Absolutely, especially with dance music journalism, which isn’t the finest example of the journalist’s art, let’s be honest. Apologies to any dance music journalists here (laughs). You probably all are. It’s difficult to write about dance music because dance music is so of the moment that it’s very hard to translate that moment on the dancefloor into an article in DJ or Mixmag or whatever magazine you’re writing for.

RBMA

 I can only agree. It is. But questions. Do we have the microphone to hand?

Participant:

Like yourself, I’m interested in music that sits between genres, if you like. How important are genres in general? I know this could be another two-hour chat. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Indeed. But to me they never were. I wasn’t brought up in a workhouse, I didn’t have a bad upbringing, it was quite boring, it was in the suburbs. So music from an early age was always an escape route to me. You don’t limit your escape routes, you want to try and absorb everything. Obviously, I knew that’s a dub record and that’s a punk record, but I’ve always been of the opinion that you never limit your escape routes. I’m aware of genres but from the age of 12 or 13 I didn’t want to limit my escape routes so I embraced pretty much everything. That was the joy of punk rock, especially the Sex Pistols and John Lydon, that introduced me to roots dub music to krautrock and experimental electronic stuff. I think I was lucky enough to read John Lydon interviews at the age of 13 in 1976. I mean, it sounds like you’re having a bit of an intellectual dilemma with genre-hopping.

Participant

 Yeah, a little bit.

Andrew Weatherall

 That’s the only thing. Sometimes you can be accused of being a dilettante if you dip in and out of things. I do feel I’m skimming the surface sometimes. That’s the only drawback of that kind of genre-hopping is you can be accused of dilettantism by people on the outside. Speaker: Participant:

Their problem. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall:

Stay with it, my friend. Speaker: Participant:

When you write remixes, I noticed on all those ones you kept the original bassline on the bass guitar.

Andrew Weatherall

 Not always, no. The Wooden Shjips one, God bless them, I love their sound, but the file they sent of their bassline was absolutely unusable. It was just like a thick block like that (draws straight line). So that’s played. The Soft Rocks one, that’s a kind of rock 'n' roll adaptation of a more dub bassline. We do replay them, we kind of copy them, but we’ll play them a bit differently. Someone said to me recently, "You can tell you listen to reggae because all your basslines are a little bit lazy and behind the beat." Sometimes we will copy the bassline, but Tim my engineer will play them a little bit lazier, a bit groovier. Especially rock bassists, it’s all a bit urgent and hurried so we hang things back a little bit. But it depends, if the original track has got a synth bass then we’ll turn it into a live bass and vice versa. Speaker: Participant:

Do you have any rules when you sit down to do a remix? Do you stick to any limitations? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Not really, I’ve still got those words of a Glaswegian saying into my ear, "Just fucking destroy it," so it’s never been a great bother. Even if you destroy something, as long as you retain some of the original feel then I think I’ve done a great job. There’s probably people at record companies who would argue otherwise. Speaker: Participant

 I’m just wondering how long it takes you to make a track.

Andrew Weatherall

 To make a track or do a remix? Speaker: Participant

 I guess both. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Like any piece of art: ask a painter how long it takes to do a painting. It can be a day, it can be two weeks. Usually, a remix will take about two or three days, but I never set myself. It’s part of that thing of going to work. But I’ve learnt from experience that working through the night, working for 15/20 hours, the returns sometimes aren’t good because you lose all perspective of what you’re doing. So I work a day, from noon to seven at night, so I’ll do three sets of seven hours. But sometimes after three/four hours if the results are good I’ll say to the engineer, "This is sounding good. Although we’ve only been working on it three hours, let’s go and do something else." Then we’ll go back tomorrow and listen to it in the cold light of day, because something sounds great, but because you’ve been listening to it for three or four hours, you think, "We’ll add something, we’ll fuck with the filters;" or something. In the end you’ll lose what you had. With one of my own tracks, as soon as it sounds good, it’s time to stop, move onto something else, listen to somebody else’s music, then come in the next day and if it still sounds good, carry on. If I did things quickly I used to feel a little bit guilty, but then I read about how some of my favourite records were made and they were all one-take wonders, done in an afternoon. The likes of Billy Childish records an album in an afternoon, it’s all one take. So I began to feel a bit better about not putting the hours in. Speaker: Participant:

Speaking about destruction, what was it your DJ said about Robert Johnson? Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 Oh, the infamous…? (laughs) It was the tenth anniversary of Robert Johnson in Frankfurt, one of my favourite clubs, and I was playing with Rhythm & Sound,MarkErnestus. They’d hired in some bassbins – that was the first thing I was told, they’d hired these bassbins worth 10.000€. Rhythm & Sound did their thing, I played my set and with 15 minutes to go a young lady got up onstage and I thought she was asking for a request and I said, "What are you talking about?" And she looked at me and said, "I think there is fire." I looked at these speakers and there was indeed smoke coming from these 10.000€ bassbins. It was kind of half-in and half- outside, the venue had a canopy, like a tent. Then as soon as they took the speakers outside the tent, the wind caught them and they burst into flames. At which point I’m beginning to panic because the guy from the speaker company is looking at me from across the dancefloor. He’s making his way towards me and I thought, "Well, there goes my wages:" He came up to me and, very straight- faced, put his arms around me and in a thick German accent said (affects strong German accent):"You have very hot records, ja."

(laughter / applause)

There is footage on YouTube if you put in "Weatherall," "burning speakers," Robert Johnson." But it’s funny, in the age we live in, there’s people filming it, but then there’s people filming the people filming it and people filming the people filming the people filming it, while these two guys struggle out with the speakers on fire.

RBMA

 Do you know which tracks did it?

Andrew Weatherall

 They were all pretty hot, I’ve got to be honest with you. Speaker: RBMA

 Who’s next?

Andrew Weatherall

(long pause) We’ve gone out on a comedy anecdote. Speaker: RBMA

 Before we go can we have another piece of music?

Andrew Weatherall

 What do you want?

RBMA

 You’re going to have to be the selector. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

 It’s either that or another comedy anecdote.

RBMA:

Of which I know you have many, but I’d still rather hear some music. Speaker: Andrew Weatherall

(laughs) Let’s see what I’ve got. There’s a nice dub I did for Steve Mason, ex of The Beta Band.

(music: Steve Mason – Boys Outside Andrew Weatherall remix / applause)

I know we should probably talk technicalities, but that bass is a Juno 106, bank B, preset 41...

(laughter)

...with a bit of tweaking. Every now and again we’ll do two mixes. That’s a kind of dub of a dub, the original has got live bass. I’ve watched Adrian Sherwood work, I’ve seen Lee Perry work, where it’s all very hands-on, just takes a matter of minutes, just run the rhythm track, get the bass going. We did a version with a live bass, then copied the bassline with a Juno 106 and just did one pass, same rhythm track. I was live, fucking with the filters on the bass, which is what we do now and again. I did one for Nick Cave in the same way. I’ve done a few like that where we do a dub of the dub. We actually look at each other and say, "Preset 41;" and off we go.

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