Sabres of Paradise, DJ Andrew Weatherall's dream band, combine punk attitude with intelligent techno. As promised, here's part two of the feature started in Volume Seven. There we unveiled the band.
Here we join Mr Weatherall at home for the life story so far...
"Don't forget to wipe your feet." Andrew Weatherall Domestics doesn't come to the door in his yellow snugfit Marigolds. I arrived an hour too late for that. The washing up is now all clean, stacked and put away. He has an arrangement with his girlfriend: when she's at the office he does the housework, and vice versa.
Today she's at the office. And the only objects resisting spick-and-spanness are the ashtrays. He's keeling, on the obviously recently hoovered, astroturf carpet, flicking through newly acquired records, trying them on the Technics in the corner for size.
While he prepares for tonight's gig, the torrential rain does its best to make a mockery out of his French windows. "I hope they're alright, " he says looking outside. They? I look for children sheltering from the ungodly deluge in the far corners of his garden. "The rabbits and the guinea pigs." Of course! They've two of each (snipped following date rape). And currently they stand a good chance of catching pneumonia. Suddenly the astroturf carpet makes more sense.
Covering the huge mirrored doors of vanity that span the entire length of the room are posters. Dinosaur Jr shares the pill with Pacha, a club in Ibiza. The Smiths and the Manic Street Preachers. On the wall opposite shine reflections of Weatherall's success. A god and silver disc, for producing the Primals' 'Screamadelica' LP and his ex-neighbour The Orb's 'Aubrey Mixes', create an unholy trinity of the most innovative UK names post-acid house.
In a three-and-a-half-year studio career that started with 'Loaded', Andy Weatherall has gone from council flat in Battersea to a semi-detached in Tooting, from Boys Own's most infamous DJ, club runner and fanzine editor to, well, Minister of Alternative Fun, remixing New Order, Happy Mondays, Stereo MCs and Bjork, and turning down U2. Infiltrating the corporate record company set-up, with Boys Own the label which signed One Dove, Denim, Underworld and relaunched Jah Wobble's career.
Now he's a recording and touring artist in his own right with Sabres of Paradise (a collaboration with Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns - their first album, the techno 'Sabresonic', is released on Warp in October). The band is named after his label, which has featured everything from a Throbbing Gristle remix to clubland's more recent favourite groove, Secret Knowledge's 'Sugar Daddy'. He's also started a club "where the only rule is that there are no rules", and a comic in which Lord Sabre has invented a "Frankenstein's monster" of a youth cult.
While it's sweeping the nation, he can still be found Djing, somewhere in the world, three nights a week. He slots this in around building a studio (so he can spend even more time recording) and remix work on the Brian Eno-produced James LP. He takes the producers's chair once more this year, with The Fall. ("I didn't like to say I wasn't that keen on sitting in pubs or curries," he says of his meeting with Mark E Smith.) By early June he was booked up till October.
BUT work must stop sometimes. It's early Monday evening and dinner's ordered from the dial-a-takeaway-on-wheels. The round '70s bubble TV gets the picture. Time for Coronation Street and Brookside. And Weatherall's not lost the plot for a second - unlike the floppy-earred golden rabbits, who are now inside, shooting turd bullets round the room and off the Eastern ornaments in their excitement at being back on the astroturf. (Health warning: Don't smoke anything that didn't come out of your own pocket. It may not be what it seems).
Full on tea, telly and take-away, the time seems as good as any to reminisce.
"That involves sordid building site tales - how far back to you want to go?
"The first thing I remember about music," he plunges in at around 100mph, "and I find it most distressing that I share this with the singer from Blur, is "Seasons In The Sun' by Terry Jacks. It was the first time I remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.
"Also, my mum and dad had this Barry White album called 'Stone Gon" which is just an outrageous record (he gets very passionate about his records). On the back it had 'spiritual adviser: Larry Noonez' - I remember thinking, Shit, what's a spiritual adviser? It must be really heavy and deep. Thinking about it, that was the first really soul, black music I ever heard. My mum and dad used to put it on after dinner on a Sunday..."
And then disappeared upstairs?
"No, no, no. The used to clear the table off," he chuckles, "and did it there and then!"
"No, not really. Um...but even when I was that young it was like, all this pop music malarkey is better than the real world, so I got into everything. It just seemed to be a good way to escape from the real world."
What were you escaping from?
He glugs uncertainly, exhaling a huge cloud of smoke: "What it was, my parents were like first generation, emerging middle class. Both my mum's parents were from Slough and as working class as you like and my dad got kicked out of school when he was 15 - but he made good, you know, became company director and all that. So I started getting these horrible, middle class sort of attitudes: you know, don't show your emotions, ordered. Like, really bordering on Mike Leigh play. It was really stifling, there was no emotion- just blandness, really. I think it was an escape from that.
"I don't know whether some people are just born to not take any notice of what they're told, but I was just one of those people and I think music was a part of that. When punk happened I was still living at home - I was 14 or 15 and I was warned, You can't listen to that. But anything forbidden, you know, I had to listen to it."
So what were you like at school?
"The word 'oik' would be um..." he laughs. "I did waste it a little bit. I tried to get into art school. I mean, it was the place where people who didn't it in went and you could tit around a bit. But I was unlucky. By the time I applied they'd stopped admitting people who didn't know what they were doing! But I've met people over the years who went to university and they're totally clueless as to what's going on around them, you know - I think I got the best of both worlds. I had a good education up to A-level standard and then started working on building sites and stuff, seeing a bit of what's life's about. I got chucked out of home when I was 18."
"Lots of things - like getting a tattoo (naughty schoolboy giggle) and stuff like that."
What was your first tattoo? (he's now covered from neck to ankle.)
"It was a swallow and it didn't go down to well. Getting chucked out of home tends to mean having to have your wits about you. I was just blagging for years really."
After a year of mastering the art of single-handedly unloading leather Chesterfields he went into business of hi sown - a market stall in Windsor.
"There were all these anitques and all of a sudden we appeared in the corner - me and a couple of mates with like Boy T-shirts with geezers shagging each other and all that. Like I say, just standard ducking and diving. I didn't really have a clue what I wanted to do."
But the acetates of the future, however unconsciously, had already been cut.
"Whenever there was a gathering that looked like it was going o turn into a party, " explain Andrew, "I would be called upon to go home and get my records. I was a trainspotter and I would get off on that. Everyone else was getting off on getting pissed and snogging and I'm like, Have you heard this one? yeah, great - as they grabbed hold of another young woman. This is good as well.. (gestures looking round)...lads?!"
In his carrier bad in those days The Clash, The Only Ones, Public Image and Grandmaster Flash jostled for space. And when acid house cam e along, his love for late '70s electronica by artists like DAF and Portion Control drew him to it.
Surprisingly, his first professional engagement was playing 'indie' records at The Trip, Nick Holloway's seminal acid club at London's Astoria. "Then I started getting a name for myself and people were booking me and they didn't really know what I played. They just knew I played at The Shoom (spiritual home of UK acid scene) and they could put that on their leaflet."
It meant, true to Weatherall style, that people didn't always know what they were letting themselves in for.
"My earliest Djing memory, ' he chortle, "is pre-acid house, at this funk and soul do. I started playing Bow Wow Wow, 'Go Crazy Apeshit Bonkers' or whatever it was called ('Go Wild In The Country' actually Andrew - Facts Ed.), then stopped the music and just threw it into '633 Squadron. Then the last straw, I discovered that they had a smoke machine so I filled the whole place with fucking smoke and people were running round with their arms outstretched doing aeroplanes and the manager just fucking grabbed me and threw me off. It was classic, everyone was cheering. Yeah, that was excellent. Excellent."
BOYS Own (party throwers par excellence) gave an alternative fave to acid house: a tongue in the cheek of the smiley, when 'acieeed" was otherwise a series of screamingly hysterical tabloid headlines. Boys Own, the fanzine, sacrilegiously brought humour to the scene yet, ironically, became the fashionable, elitist fave of house music. The chaps found themselves in a position where their piss-takes became interpreted as hard-line style.
Terry Farley (ex-gas fitter), Cymon Eckel (ex-chippie) and Steve Mayes still run the various Boys Own concerns.
"People think there was a game plan involved, but we were such a bunch of lazy flake, do-it-tomorrow merchants. Every small town's got them: aimless, drifting souls, with a common interest in sad trousers. What can I say? I got sorta sucked into their world, more than the other way round," explains Weatherall, who served his musical apprenticeship fronting and playing percussion in a couple of sixth form bands.
"They were going to clubs back in soul days - I'd go now and again for the social experience and the odd good tune. But I wasn't obsessive about it. This was during the era of 'hard times', rockabillied up and holes in our clothes sorta stylee. I'd go and see anything, any club, check it out. Just to see what was going on. I thought that's what being young was all about."
So when did the fanzine start?
"Probably '86, '86 - maybe even earlier, ' he ponders as the excesses of Ecstasy start to show. "To be honest, my tie scale of when things were happening...I was in such a world of me own, I just watched the time go by and it's difficult to put an actual date, even a year to what went on. I really can't remember.
"I always envy people who've had an experience that's changed their life. And I thought I'd never had one. But looking back on it, it probably was that - going down The Shoom and ending up outside, you know, at strange hours of the morning talking to people you've never met - you know, the usual sort of story that you'll hear from hundreds of other people.
"I got a bit bored going to clubs. I was quite happy to stay home and consume a bottle of whisky, " he says, explaining how he'd first rejected the scene. "But I got a phone call from Farley saying they'd found this club full of, like people they new from football, going mad and playing the maddest selection of music. I just thought, Oooh, what? A club full of football hooligans on drugs - no thinks, that's not for me. And I dissed it for a couple of weeks but then, you know, just heard more and more ridiculous stories about what was going on, so I went along.
"Sometimes people sort of pushed the boundaries a bit far by playing really silly records, " he laughs. "I'm guilty of it myself. I remember being in The Shoom once and they played 'Give Peace A Chance' and then they switched the lights on and everyone held hands and that. I was cynical at the time but the good side of it far out-weighed that four minutes."
ANDREW'S first time was far removed from the rush he savoured at The Shoom. "It was about two years before that. A girlfriend of a flatmate came back from New York and she had some [Ecstasy]. I did it and about an hour later a fight erupted outside my house and I got involved in the ensuing fracas. I got back in and was, like, That fucking drug's rubbish, it doesn't do anything. So the first time was a non-event. Maybe I did feel a bit lovey-dovey later on but that could just have been my hormones."
So what happened when you started taking it again?
"It turned me into a raving lunatic for about a year as it did everyone. You work yourself up to a frenzy - and then you either keep going and turn into a vegetable with a problem or you stop. I haven't done it for about a year now, I suppose. The gear now is crap, anyway, and six hours of feeling great outweighed by three days of feeling like a total veg.
"I think I was lucky because I knew that doing E was about as high as you can get, short of banging needles into your arm, which I'm not into. But a lot of people had come into it and that was their first drug experience. That was the bottom rung of the ladder, so where do you go from there? That's what fucks people up. I realised that was as far as I wanted to go.
"I think people that do drugs all the tie for the sake of it are just as tedious and boring as their parents, who they're probably rebelling against. You just adopt rules, you adopt a cliched way of thinking, speaking. Once you get that heavily into it you're just as much in a rut as someone who's not doing drugs but getting up and doing a nine-to-five job."
Do you think acid house could have happened without Ecstasy?
"No, no, no. It's the same as any movement that has that much affect on people - it's all fuelled by something, isn't it? Punk was fuelled by speed, the '60s were fueled by acid. Great pieces of art always come from abuse, really - or the inspiration once you've stopped doing it and you can get your head together and function."
AS psycho killers go, Weatherall is wearing on his chest the face of one of the more obscure stars of the genre, Ed Gein. His door number in numerology circle s the rather fashionable 23. And there's the Psychic TB tattoos and a rather good collection of Aleister Crowley books in the bathroom. I think about phoning the RSPCA for the rabbits' sake. How did he develop his "fascination with the dark side of life" (his term)?
"Um, I don't know - some people have got the rebellious gene in them, plus the sort of background where everything seems to be squeaky clean. It's just the desire to know what was going on under the surface.
"But I haven't got a black bedroom and there's not, like, entrails anywhere. I"m not that obsessive. There's no upside-down crucifix or, you know - thought there are a few devil worshipping books, " he giggles. "I had a stained glass psychic cross which used to be on the toilet cistern: it does bring back memories of very dodgy insided once. Don't know where it is, actually,. It'll probably come to light in a strange junk shop and somebody will pick it up and have bad luck for the rest of their life."
What made you want to become a child of the Temple Ov Psychick Youth?
"Like I say, just that fascination with things that are a bit different, a bit forbidden and dark," he says, adding hastily: "I didn't send jism through Her Majesty's postal system to strange addresses, though. I'd just been thrown out of home and, you know, you're on your own and you look to things that - to give you help, you know?"
And you chose Genesis P Orridge?
"Well, some people choose smack. I know what I'd rather do:: I'd rather have a slightly morbid fascination. It was just like escapism, I suppose. Again it's like doing a drug - you realise you get to a certain point and it starts getting a bit, not boring, but you've got what you can from it and you move on to other things. Getting involved with that meant that I was introduced to books and films and music that I probably wouldn't have known. It was just being young and, you know, wanting to belong to a weirdy gang. I was the type, I was Windsor's token weirdo, and it was just an expression of that...
"That's what I find weird. The fact that, you know, I"m just a bloke from Windsor who, you know, just fell into it and was having a laugh with his mates - then suddenly people want to know about stuff like this. That's the bizarre thing."
Indeed it is...Andy Weatherall, just your average 30-year-old head of household, owner of a pair of snugfit yellow Marigold rubber gloves, settled with fiance, bunny rabbits and guinea pigs, in a pleasant, three-bedroom semi, contemplating a mortgage... And remember, don't forget to wipe your feet.