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Jack Dangers: The Mind of Meat Beat Manifesto

By Published: October 24, 2005
AAJ: I feel badly for people who, during that little period for hip-hop in the eighties, sampled and had hits, like Biz Markie—clearing samples hadn't even occurred to anyone, but they got sued by the people who owned the rights to the records they'd sampled, and got killed.

JD: Well, now in chart music, commercial hip-hop, it's nonexistent. No one samples anything anymore. It's these horribly played factory sounds, like a factory saxophone sound, on a [Yamaha] DX-7 [laughing].

AAJ: That's so mediocre and brutal; it makes me insane. It makes me feel like a reactionary, except that I was obsessed with hop-hop in the late eighties. So I was hip once, and I'm not against the art form. But when I hear something like 50 Cent's "Candy Shop, I can't believe how little respect I have for it. I just think it's bad.

JD: You think, "am I getting old?

AAJ: You definitely ask yourself that, and it is entirely possible.

JD: Yeah, you've got to give yourself a little pinprick [laughing]. But [the eighties] were the golden age of hip-hop. De La Soul, Three Feet High and Rising, Public Enemy—the samples and the drum breaks. It was exciting. I worked with a band called EBN. Back in '92, '93, they did a cover version of "We Will Rock You by Queen. But it was all from visuals—it was a speech George Bush Senior did when they first went into the Gulf, the first Gulf War, and he was talking about Iraq. But they took the "'raq from "Iraq for "rock, so it was George Bush saying [assumes robotic, reassembled nasal George Bush Sr. voice] "we will we will 'raq you.

So it's obviously cut up, each word, but when I first saw that, I thought, "oh my god, this is just unbelievable! This is it! So I got to work with them; I did the only album they ever did. And Brian Eno worked on it, Grandmaster Melle Mel did vocals on it. It was a big deal at the time, but it was on TVT Records and they did such a bad job that it fell flat on its face. But ever since then, anyone doing anything with visuals in a sampling way always cites EBN as being the godfathers. And I've always worked with visuals live. When we do our live show we always have samples of things, films, obvious samples, which went in line with the music. Even some of the older songs of mine which people might know, like "Helter Skelter —I had visual samples from A Clockwork Orange, so whenever we played live, you'd see Malcolm McDowell screaming. So the live show we did this year was basically my whole life of watching television and films put into two hours [laughing]. It's all my favorite bits and pieces and my favorite sounds—just everything. When we go to Europe, it's going to be just me and Ben, and we do a slightly different show. But it's 80 percent visuals. The audio's attached to the visuals so there's music at the same time.

AAJ: Is it more stripped-down due to expense?

JD: Yeah. We couldn't really afford to be taking everyone over there for that amount of time. If the shows were all in one line, it'd be okay, but they're spread out over a period, and we can't keep flying back here—so we've got to stay in hotels, you know. But when we tour back over here, we sort of missed the South last time, so we're doing something like 16 shows over here. That'll be the full setup. We always do different types of shows depending on where we are and what we're doing. Because we run the label Tino Corp., we've got lots of material—different types of shows we can do.

AAJ: Oh, yes, the Tino Corps record label. This is run by you, Ben Stokes and Mike Powell?

JD: Well, Mike helps out on the Tino's Breaks [the series of drum breaks for turntablists to use live]; we've done like five of those. We haven't brought one out in a few years. But primarily, the label is me and Ben. We run it and decide what comes out on it, and when we play live, it's me and Ben. We actually did a show over the weekend, so we're keeping busy.

AAJ: The label puts out mostly vinyl. But what's the philosophy, if any, behind what you put out?

JD: No real main philosophy. Just a label we set out so we could bring out anything we wanted, really. We were working with other labels, established labels, and they've got an office with people working there and they've got to pay their wages and stuff like that—so you can't step outside the boundary too far or you won't get signed or you won't get this or that. So both of us have had that through the years; Ben did a lot of music videos and it's the same sort of thing. So the two of us wanted a vehicle to put out stuff we wanted to do without it being touched by any industry hands. That's the primary reason for doing it.

AAJ: That's a good reason! You don't have to hear, "we love the album, we love it—you just need to change this, this, this, this and this.

JD: It's tricky! It's a weird business. They're investing money in you, or an album, or a campaign, whatever they want to call it, so you've sort of got to be aware of everyone's needs [laughing]. Otherwise you're just hitting your head up against a brick wall.

Visit Meat Beat Manifesto on the web.

Selected Discography

Meat Beat Manifesto, Off Centre (EP) (Thirsty Ear, 2005)
Meat Beat Manifesto, At the Center (Thirsty Ear, 2005)
Jack Dangers, Forbidden Planet Explored (Important, 2004)
Meat Beat Manifesto, Storm in the Studio R.M.X.S. (Tino Corp, 2003)
Jack Dangers, Variaciones Espectrales, (Instinct, 2002)
Meat Beat Manifesto, RUCK? (:/run, 2002)
Jack Dangers, Hello Friends! (Shadow, 2001)
Meat Beat Manifesto, Actual Sounds + Voices (Nothing, 1998)
Meat Beat Manifesto, Subliminal Sandwich (Play It Again Sam, 1996)
Meat Beat Manifesto, Version Galore (Play It Again Sam, 1995)
Meat Beat Manifesto, Satyricon (Elektra, 1992)
Meat Beat Manifesto, 99% (Mute, 1990)
Meat Beat Manifesto, Armed Audio Warfare (Wax Trax!, 1989)

Photo Credits
Top and Center photos: Peter Ellenby
Bottom photo: Anthony Pidgeon

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