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Eat Static return for Lost In Space

Reported by benz / Submitted 26-02-07 22:51

Before programs like Ableton Live came along and made it relatively simple for dance music producers to put on a ‘live’ show, there were a handful of artists who were going to serious lengths to create complex live versions of their studio work. At one end of the timeline were pioneers like German synth masters Kraftwerk, and at the other, the live revolutionaries of the 90s like The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers and Faithless. But what went in between, bridging the transition from the emergence of electronica to the stadium-filling acts of the end of the Millennium?

The answer lies in acid house, and acts like the forward-thinking KLF, 808 State and the legendary Eat Static. With their first new album since 2004 just round the corner, Merv Pepler and Joie Hinton are once again amassing their equipment and returning to the live stage for an intimate gig at A Different World presents Lost In Space this Saturday 3rd March at Hidden.

Merv and Joie began their careers in dance music as part of 80s prog-rockers Ozric Tentacles, whose experimental leanings soon led them into the worlds of acid house and techno music, giving them the inspiration to try and make some dance tracks of their own. Their psychedelic influences helped them marry their epic rock leanings with elements of trance and techno, creating an indefinable sound that has seen them gather a huge fanbase over the best part of the last 20 years. They have long been a legendary name on the festival circuit worldwide, and with their new album and return to the live arena coming up shortly, it looks like a whole new generation of Eat Static fans are soon to be realised. Over to Merv to explain more about how he got himself into this whole mess...

Let’s trace things back to those Ozric Tentacles days if you don’t mind. Were you part of the original line-up in the mid-eighties? And did you feel much influence from electronic music in those early days?

Joie was part of the original line up. I joined later in 1988. We both left them in 1994 when it just got too much being in two bands.

Synthesisers played a big part in the Ozrics and both of our musical careers. Joie bought his first synth in 1977 and that one is still on stage now, believe it or not! I was getting into Kraftwerk at that time plus the new wave of synth artists like Tubeway Army. Joie was more into Todd Rungdren!

So was acid house a revolutionary era for you guys?

I think the main reason acid house made such an impact on us was the thing of a sense of humour coming back into synth stuff. The Ozrics was pretty serious musically, and the whole thing about dance music was to see how silly a noise you could make on the synth. I liked the buzz about a party being about introducing new tracks and sounds, whereas the whole rock scene was based on bands doing their greatest hits and stuff the audience knew... and it was great seeing the establishment freaking out about it all. It was punk all over again!

When and why did you decide to create the Eat Static project?

1988 was when we started doing our first dance tracks, and it was just for a laugh originally. We never actually sat down and planned on doing dance stuff, but we hooked up with a third member, Steve Everitt, one New Year’s Eve, took a load of substances, started making funny noises and then that beat was laid down underneath. After that, we never looked back!

Performing live is a relative doddle for dance music producers in this day and age. How did your live set up work when you first started performing and how has the processed evolved?

I see many of the dance artists getting on stage and just playing stereo files from their laptop, which is no different than a DJ slot. A lot of them do not feel at home on the stage, whereas Joie and I come from a rock band background so are used to touring, filthy venues, travelling all the time plus knowing how important it is to deliver a live show — the audience like to see a band work hard!

It’s got slightly easier for us nowadays as equipment has shrunk, but we still play a lot of stuff on stage plus improvise a lot and also have things go wrong from time to time. It’s keeping it real that counts!

Quite! You used to play at many of the legendary Orbital raves around the M25 in the early 90s. Could you describe what such a rave experience was like in those days? And especially performing at one...

Err, driving around endless country lanes, stopping every now and then to see if you could hear a bass drum across the countryside, wading through police lines, getting your car broken into all the time, dodgy drugs, getting stuck in the mud, playing on top of wooden pallets instead of a stage, getting electrocuted because of dodgy wiring that’s been rained on… oh,happy memories! He he... I guess we had to be mad to have still enjoyed doing those, but when there is a good buzz from the crowd, you couldn’t beat it.

Do you think the dance music industry from when you started is virtually unrecognisable compared to that of today?

Of course it’s moved on and split into so many categories now, and the whole internet download thing has changed things a lot, in some good ways, some bad. It’s a lot easier getting hold of obscure music now which is a good thing.. Not having to spend days and days in record shops is also nice.

I think I preferred it when the whole scene was more underground, but everything gets leapt on by the major labels eventually.

You are usually described as a techno act. What does techno mean to you?

I am not sure why some people label us that. We have always maintained doing loads of different styles and experimenting with every album, which is probably why we’re still doing albums after 19 years together. We have always been impossible to pigeonhole for the media — a deliberate thing I’ve always tried to do.

The last we heard from you guys was in 2004; what have you been up to since then?

I had a bit of a break from the Static full on stuff for a while and did a few side projects, featuring different styles of music. I did Flexitones with Will White from the Propellerheads, Hi-Fi Companions with Steve Jolliffe (Tangerine Dream), Dendron (my breaks and drum n bass project), then instead of rushing back with a new Eat Static album, did lots of individual tunes for lots of different labels like Tipworld, Twisted, Interchill and Solstice, plus concentrated on the live sets again. This laid down a good foundation ready for this new studio album, our first since 2001. We did release ‘Alien Artifacts’ at that time too, which is rare stuff we recorded between 1989 and 1992. Volume 2 of that will be coming out this year.

So what kind of stuff are you creating in the studio in 2007? What does Eat Static sound like now?

Funny, but for this album we have gone back to our roots, the alien, sci-fi more danceable stuff. A real album for the fans. Again, this felt natural as we have been doing so much live work over the last couple of years plus a lot of festivals and also getting out to some obscure countries and places we had never played like South Africa, Australia, Serbia, Italy, USA, Scandinavia etc.

And what are you listening to outside of your own work? What music really excites you at the moment?

I listen to so much different stuff. I’m liking a lot of world music, especially when new producers are mixing their traditional music with modern dance twists. I have some corking drum n bass from Brazil, Arabic trance, things like that. I have also started getting back into more guitar based things like System of a Down and Slayer. I still also buy music from artists I’ve been into for years, like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — he still delivers!

What about on the live performance tip? Who do you commend for more innovative, exciting efforts on the live stage?

Not many of the dance artists live really float my boat, probably ‘cos of the reasons I mentioned earlier: where they take a laptop on stage, we take a giant 8 ft diameter brain. I like System 7 live and we’re off to collaborate on their album next week. Mouse on Mars are also high on my list.

So you are returning to the live stage on March 3rd with an intimate performance at Hidden for A Different World presents Lost In Space. How did this hook up come about?

I have known Lenny/Joe Bananas for a while and have a lot of respect for them. They really believe in making a show a show. Not many promoters have done that since the days of Club Dog.

The guys behind this night have been involved in the world of festivals for many years now. Is the festival circuit still something that you hold close to your heart?

We are still very much a big part of the whole festival scene and its ethics. It’s still a buzz to do these and last year especially, a whole new bunch have started up. It’s a thrill to me, even now, to be wandering around a field in the middle of the night and discovering some weird little band playing somewhere.

We hear you’ve also got a special guest joining you for some DJ duties...?

Hmmm even I am not privileged with that info… but I like surprises!

Photos courtesy of Eat Static. Not to be reproduced without permission.

A Different World presents Lost in Space
Send an eFlyer for this event to a friend Include this Event in a Private Message Direct link to this Event
On: Saturday 3rd March 2007
At: Hidden [map]

From: 22:30 - 06:00
Cost: £12 in Advance / £10 Members / £15 on the door.
Ticket Info: - 020 726708320 - - 08700 600 100
£12 in advance, £10 members or £15 on the door.
Buy Online: Click here to buy tickets
More: Lost In Space is the second London party offering from the innovative new event promoters A Different World, who promise to offer a truly unique clubbing experience. This event, themed around the 60’s TV series of the same name, plays host to the launch of the first album in five years from underground trance legends Eat Static. The guys will be performing live, exclusively showcasing material from the album, De-Classified.
Originally starting as members of the Ozric Tentacles, Eat Static was formed in 1989 by Merv Pepler and Joie Hinton as a creative outlet for the diverse range of electronic music that the pair was writing. Always intended as a live band, Eat Static can legitimately claim to be one of the UK's first live techno outfits, cutting their teeth at many of the 'orbital' raves of the early 90's. They appeared three times at the legendary Rage nights performing alongside names such as Carl Cox, Fabio and Grooverider as well as playing at early incarnations of Universe and Tribal Gathering.

Having headlined almost every major European festival and performed hundreds of gigs around the world including tours alongside the likes of Moby and BT, Eat Static are amongst the pioneers of the underground dance music scene. Having the rare, and unique honor in dance music of performing two John Peel Sessions Eat Static can also count a top 10 album and a top 50 single amongst their achievements.
Now the guys are back! Due for release in Spring 2007 De-Classified is their first studio album in 5 years. The album features a return to their roots-Sci-fi, dancefloor sound and should delight their long staying, ever faithful following.

Spread over three beautifully decorated, individually themed rooms, two spacious mezzanines and a large outdoor terrace area. Top notch sound and lighting in every room supplemented by a super line-up of international dj’s and performers. A blend of the unusual and the downright shocking, prepare for an evening of flimsy robots, ray guns and retro space tackiness as we all get Lost In Space.

Appearing on the night: Eat Static ‘LIVE’ + special guest tbc., Precision Cuts, Chopstick, Backtrack ‘LIVE’, Sputnik Futnik Collective, Neil Sonic, Chris Gainer along with walkabout theatre, alternative entertainment and Cabaret performances.

Themed ‘Lost In Space’ and ‘De-Classified’ décor throughout the venue, plus extensive AV installations, retro Space Invader games, cinema and other surprises.
Region: London
Music: Tech Trance. Psy Trance. House. Deep House. Funky House. Prog House. Tribal House. Vocal House. Techno. Breaks.
DJ's: Eat Static ‘LIVE’
Special Guest (TBC)
Precision Cuts
Backtrack ‘LIVE’
Sputnik Futnik Collective
Neil Sonic
Chris Gainer

Who's Going? (1) : Trancers 

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Other Features By benz:
Introducing: Salerno - part of Chemistry's NuWave selection
Coburn bring their live show to UP^^
The return of The Colosseum
Modernism, Politburo and Sedition: Matthew Duffield’s manifesto
Kym Ayres gets the HF grilling for Frantic presents Timeless Romance
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.

From: voodoobass on 27th Feb 2007 05:04.14
Fuck yeah!
Awesome interview Benz, both Eat Static and Ozrics were important parts of my musical past... I remember seeing Ozrics, Eat Static and Banco De Gaia in Exeter a good 13-odd years ago now, halcyon days! Cool to see an interview with these dudes on HF as well. Nice to see Hidden start to be a bit more varied with the lineups as well. I'd actually be well up for going to this do, real shame I'll still be lurking in Devon and unable to make it. Frown

From: benz on 27th Feb 2007 10:26.15
shame dude - A Different World was awesome last time round...

see you soon and cheers for the comment!

From: Slink. on 27th Feb 2007 11:23.56
Excellent interview. Really liked their first couple of albums (Implant was awesome Not worthy...) but didn't like their DnB phase.

Looking forward to hearing their 'back to the roots' stuff Thumbs up

From: Daf on 2nd Mar 2007 18:26.20
F-in aye!
Nice to see Eat Static still about and doing their thing.
Got really into them ~ 96/97 when they were my favourite act at Glast.

From: Timmy Whiz on 5th Mar 2007 16:31.33
I love Eat Static, many many a weekend have been lost listening to their albums whilst intoxicated in one way or another........loved seing them live @ the Concord2 in Brighton few years back Not worthy...Heartbeat

From: Pete M on 5th Mar 2007 19:37.41
Their remix of Shpongle - And The Day Turned To Fright was ace. Big grin So was their remix of Ring Of Fire by Green Nuns Of The Revolution. Slayer

From: Centurian on 14th Mar 2007 13:11.05
How strange, i was listening to the Science Of The Gods album just yesterday and was wondering where they'd got to.

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