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Jack Dangers: The Mind of Meat Beat Manifesto

By Published: October 24, 2005
AAJ: "Shotgun! (Blast to the Brain) seems like a very perfect merger of more beat-driven, dare I say traditional, MBM groove—and the sounds of these very individual players, including you, again on bass clarinet. Somehow to me, it sounds like a track that would lend itself to remixing. Do you have any plans to present any of this material in the future in a remixed format?

JD: We're actually going to do a remix competition thing through Live. Nine Inch Nails did something similar. Do you know the program Live? It's a sequencing program and I sort of make all the parts available on their website and people can download them and do their own remix, send it back in, and we pick the winner. I don't know what the prize will be. A night on the town with me or something, I don't know [laughing].

AAJ: Well, they get the excitement of having their remix chosen.

JD: Anyway, that was one of the ideas—doing that track you mention. So [laughing] there'll be hundreds of remixes of it! More than just the usual one from me. But yeah, that one, it's got the parts that would deliver a good remix.

AAJ: Is this At the Center album a direction you're going to continue to explore as Meat Beat Manifesto or is it more of a one-off?

JD: Well, it's going to be more of a one-off, because it's part of the Thirsty Ear Blue Series. All their releases, whether it's Mike Ladd or DJ Wally or whatever, they've got the very heavy jazz element. Now, this will be followed by the Off Centre EP. Once again, there are three tracks on that from the same session which no one's heard. So that's sort of following along in the same vein. But after that, I don't think there'll be anything like this.

I'm thinking about doing a drummer-only record/DVD of just drummers, all sampled visually and manipulated. That's the next idea still being formed. And that would be quite far from this, but it would include some of the same players—Dave King will be doing some of that. And I'm sure Craig will be playing some keyboards. But I don't think it would sound like this record. It would be definitely unique; I don't think there's anything like that: you pop in a DVD and you see the drum parts and you hear them, on three split screens, the three different drummers, whoever they might be. And then whatever musical instrument is playing along—you'll see the visual element of that; everything will be filmed while being recorded. No one's ever done that before.

AAJ: It sounds expensive.

JD: It does sound expensive, but I think you can get around that via using some of the new programs that are available now that weren't available like five years ago. Programs like Live—you can just chuck the audio in there and it would repitch it, map the tempo out, stuff like that. And then you go into another program to do the visuals. You can do that all on a laptop now! So that's what we're talking about doing. And it would be different than this record.

AAJ: I think that Meat Beat Manifesto touring band consists of you, Ben Stokes, Lynn Farmer and Mark Pistel, right?

JD: Yeah, that was the tour we did over here. We're going to Europe to do some dates, but it's just going to be me and Ben.

AAJ: What was the configuration of that touring group? Was Lynn Farmer on real drums?

JD: He was actually on V-Drums. But he plays them so well, in a way that you would never know. He's amazing. It cuts the time of doing a soundcheck and all that palaver in half. Yeah, I was a bit dubious: "V-Drums? Hmm, I don't know. Let's go to the expense of taking out a full drumkit. [laughing] Then you'd spend an hour-and-a-half miking it up and getting a good drum sound. But in the rehearsals, all the banks and pads which he'd programmed and the drumsets which he'd had up blew me away, really.

AAJ: You were convinced.

JD: Yeah! Very impressed. They even look like real drums if you're in the audience. I don't know if you've ever seen. They look like drums; they even feel like drums. They're not like these 80s antiquated things.

AAJ: Not those pad things.

JD: No, no. Whole different world now. So Lynn was playing those, Pistel was running the software we use live, which is called Live. And me and Ben were running different bits and pieces and running the video samples. We do a lot of video sampling live, which is like the image and the sound together in time. We do it in I suppose you could call a classical way; a hop-hop way, where some of the things, you're going to obviously know who they are: Jimi Hendrix smashing his guitar up, Pete Townshend doing something, Miles Davis—we like to go the obvious route. Live, we can do that. We'd have a problem if were were going to try to release that as a DVD or whatever.

AAJ: Some problems with clearance.

JD: But if someone could have explained to people in the seventies what hip-hop was going to be in the eighties, they would have said, "oh, you're going to have a lot of trouble with that. And, you know, in some cases they did and in some they didn't; it's all about how many you're selling. If you're on the charts, you're going to get in trouble. If you're doing it for art, maybe not.

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