originally appeared Melody Maker (23 November 1996) pages 24 and 25
ANDREW WEATHERALL re-emerges with his new TWO LONE SWORDSMEN project...
THERE used to be this DJ/producer called Andrew Weatherall, who arrived in the acid house hurricane with a group of mates calling themselves Boy's Own. Turning a Primal Scream track into a "Balearic" dance classic, emphasising the groove of the Happy Mondays' "rave One", and generally playing an intoxicating mix of beat permutations on a couple of record players, this fella proceeded to procure high amount of curious attention from the young dancing fold that frequented the musical galas at this time, quickly acquiring that well-known tag of "cult DJ".
But few people outside the clubs really cared for the musical culture this Weatherall chap came from until he formed The Sabres of Paradise to belt out back-alley blues to metronome beats, and until he inaugurated his won cavorting room - Sabresonic - to focus more leftfield club concepts. Remember him now? Yeah? well, Andrew Weatherall is dead.
Long live Andrew Weatherall.
TOGETHER with new partner Keith Tenniswood as Two Lone Swordsmen, he's re-emerged after more than a year of self-analysis and provided one or tow of the coolest musical statement this year. Gone is the image of a cloaked Lord Sabre casting dark musical spells at pagan rituals, and instead a cleansed should has emerged. But this is not just another of that funny Weatherall chap's amusing costume changes designed to keep the Sabre Youth guessing.
There have been several personae-was that deliberate?
"Not at all. When I started I didn't want to use my real name because I didn't want it bandied about during all the acid house hysteria. When you start to give too much away, people get bored and want to hear about something else-but, if you change the rules every now and again, you can tread the middle ground between CJ 'Check me in my leather trousers and my Heavy Metal style posing' Bolland and 'I'm not going to have my photo taken.' The moment things start getting too professional I just get scared and run a mile, so it's a bit of a smokescreen."
So what's been the dramatic change in yourself?
"A mate of mine recently overheard a bloke saying, 'Oh, Weatherall's past his sell-by date,' and he was right. I was well F***ing rancid towards the end of the Sabres. It had run its course-that sound and that attitude--but now it's proper year zero, it's a new pie in a new wrapper with a new filing."
Did you feel yourself coming up to this point?
"Looking back, yeah, I suppose I did, but it was gradual. A lot of it was to do with a lot of the music I was listening to, because there was so much outrageous music happening and it gradually dawned on me that I didn't really thing what I was making stood up to what I was buying. I was treating the whole thing a bit like a hobby, because when it all stated I just thought playing records would be another way of paying for my drugs and rent for the next six months. That was what I 'd done all my life, just blundered along with people offering me jobs for some reason. Suddenly, it's four years later. So then it was like, 'Right, I've achieved all this without trying very hard, so what happens if I work a little bit?!'"
What sort of pressure did you suffer from?
"I never thought I was as good as people said I was. You'd have a lack of confidence and then you'd have somebody telling you're the dog's bollocks and you're thinking, 'Duh, but U'm not vo,' so the smokescreen gets thicker.
"I've always had ideas but because of all the periphery bullshit, I didn't know how to take them any further. So I kind f covered what I thought was my incompetence with bluff and bluster. But know I've got the ideas, the confidence and the bluff and luster! Subconsciously that might be why I didn't want to stand up and say, 'This is me, Andrew Weatherall,' because I thought I was on a bit of a dodgy pedestal."
So how does this put all your previous work into perspective?
"I don't want to totally dismiss everything I've done, because it's got me to where I am now. It's just that I'm not very interested in it. There's loads of things I'm embarrassed about and can't believe I didn't but you're the sum of your parts, you have to have been a c*** to not be a c***. That's what I realised and it's turned me into a much better person.
"My musical tastes have changed, I've changed and I know it sounds weird and perhaps I should like down on the couch while you get your notebook out, but I feel like a totally different person. Even as close as two years ago, I look back and it's like a totally new life."
Cocaine. Look we don't wanna get too serious her, it's bloody everywhere from kitchens to cars, and everyone knows that the music industry has its fair share. Period. It's there, it's easy and now Weatherall's stopped. And it's helped. End of story, really.
"I don't want to harp on about the drug thing, especially charlie, because I do tend to go on about it a bit, but that was the cherry on the cake. I knocked that on the head and that was it. That's what really kicked it into gear."
"THERE'S been several occasions over the past three or four years where I thought I was going to die. Once in a toilet in Edinburgh airport, I honestly thought I was going to be found dead in a f***ing cubicle--what a way to go!
"It makes me laugh now. I look at things and I think, 'You arse!' doing interviews on a three-day charlie come-down, coming out with really stupid things. But perhaps that's why people have stayed interested - even if I've said stupid things and been a c***, at least I've been an interesting c***!"
So here we are at your year zero . What's the difference musically for you between the Sabres and now with Two Lone Swordsmen?
"Sabres was probably an approximation of a sound I had in my head but, because I didn't have the technical knowledge and relied on two other people for their input and being a bit of a control freak, I wanted to take control. With Two lone Swordsmen, it's a total partnership. With Keith, it's like a band rehearsing, but instead of two old c***s jamming on guitars, it's one old c*** and a young c*** jamming on a desk and a computer."
Keith made it onto the set after securing a job as a full-time engineer at Sabresonic studios. The click happened and, like any successful creative partnership, it's been a case of checking out and fulfilling possible potentials. Their first outing under this new guise came when the pair tackled remixing David Holmes' "Gone", quickly followed by a month-long session in which their debut album was fired up with a bunch of samples from 40p bargain bins. How punk rock is that?
The Swordsmen's sound can't really be pinned down. It does sometimes sound like an organised jam, but in a shiny way with a cheeky glint in its eye. Their album, in particular, wasn't immediate for more than a few, but that chemical balance is often hard to analyse.
"The same thins make us laugh in a tune-it's like trying to get the loudest 'F***ing 'ell' out of each other! We take it seriously, but at the same tie we're trying to make each other laugh, trying to come up with sounds so outrageous that it's actually going to bring laughter into the studio. 'Cos we're laughing about what it's going to do to other people when they hear it!"
How do you think your musical tastes have changed?
"I'm listening to music more properly and I've narrowed my horizons. I don't listen to hardly and rock music any more-if it ain't got a groove I'm not really interested, that's what I've understood. By listening to fewer types of music more intently, you learn more. I'm not saying I've become a purist because I listen to all shades of techno, house and hip hop, but I've found the funk! I've learned the skeleton. You've got to know the skeletons, you've got to know the structures and the construction and then on that skeleton you hand the f***ed-up bits and I think that's what we do. Before, I was breaking all the rules before I knew all the rule.
WITH House music undergoing something of a renaissance in the UK, the Swordsmen project has become a timely vehicle for Weatherall to et back to the basics of making "proper" dance music. He may have got into adjusting the speed or record players because it seemed another six-month sojourn, but he's been a total music addict since he thought short trousers were fashionable, and that most fundamental aspect appears to have been re-established.
"I've been listening to all this brilliant new house music like that stuff that Herbert, Nuphonic, Kenny Hawkes and Luke Soloman are doing, and, to me, it's deep and melodic but it's f***ed up. It's like all those guys have been learning the rules of House over the last five years but they've also been listening to abstract shit. Again, it feels like right back to the beginning and it's gone right back underground again. Everyone's saying House is dead and I"m making House records. Great, leave me alone, then!"
What are your musical aims now?
"I don't want to be willfully obscure, I want to try and introduce f***ed up music to as wide an audience as possible. I don't want to starve in the garret-I want to communicate my ideas. I think it's more subversive for me to play at Cream and play Underground Resistance and Robert Hood records to a crowd full of cheesy house lovers and get them off on it. I get dissed for playing at Cream, but surely I'm doing something rather than sitting round in me combat trousers going, 'Urr, but that's not proper techno playing there.' F*** that! It's f***ing dance music-the roots of techno are disco, and electro that came out of clubs. What if those f***ing glum bods had walked into a Detroit disco years ago and seen lots of gay people and party people whooping and hollering?"
Are you trying to bring those same barriers down at Bloodsugar? You were playing house on the first night with a grin on your face!
"Sabresonic was a full-on techno assault and suddenly at Bloodsugar there's all our regulars dancing to really funky deep house music! But that's partly down to my tastes. I love a good bang up, but, in a small sweaty club like that, there's no need for it-you can have just as much effect but be more subtle about it. If you've got 2,000 people in a field then you just hell for leather and yank the knackers off it, and I love doing that but that's just one side of it. And, yeah, I did have a grin on m y face, because I could tell people were thinking, 'Oh, f***ing hell, what's he doing now?' But they're into it."
SO the rebel with a bit of sauce is back with more spunk than ever and carrying his rebellious jukebox with him. As we approach the end of another year where the claws of electronically edited music dig ever deeper into the world's musical consciousness, he's not the only one excited more than ever by what's happening.
"There's all this brilliant music coming out and all the shit going on and the lead stories the other week were 'Oasis in legal wrangle with The Smurfs.' It f***s me off, but, then again, I like that because there's more of an underground feel to it and it means people are more angry. If they're picking up the papers and they're seeing the same bands every single week, it's going to make them even more angry and it's going to make them want to f*** their music up even more just to annoy the powers that be. You've got to have an enemy. If you've got no enemies and nothing to rally about, you're music's going to get complacent. You've got to want to hear something and go, 'That's shit' and want to go in the studio and do really f***ed up music-because you've heard the new Kula Shaker record on the radio.
"Sometimes, it's a bit daunting that some kid can't get a deal when he's making outrageous music, but, musically speaking, the further it goes underground and the angrier people get, the better the music is, I think.
"Then again, I can make sweeping statements like that. I'm not a millionaire but I'm not a pauper, so I can say things like, 'It's great it doesn't break through to the overground!'-but it will happen."
Oh it will