LOADED. Cocked. Fired. The shock hits like a bullet from a gun. As you walk around the corner all you can see is a thick, writing mass of bodies, pushed together in a snakelike coil - flexed and ready to explode.
Suddenly the neck bulges and the mouth gapes as the keenest of the human debris are regurgitated into a space where there's nowhere to go except the arms of burly, unyielding, security men - short of railroading the clipboard-wielding door-woman who is unable to do anything exceptinterminttenly bark:
"THE CLUB IS FULL!"
Don't believe the hype. Believe the queue. In the recession-tied streets of London town where the club sluts and pop kids can only affort o t really go out once a month, everybody is wise to a scam. But somthing's happening this Friday night that's bringing them out in force. Thy're here to see a new band play thier debut gig. The band are called Sabres of Paradise. And they'll probably be on stage for less time than most people have been queuing.
Once inside, the bell of the pit is heaving, with enought spasms and contractions to make believe you've joined jonah somewhere close to the end of the whale's digestive tract. Centre stage is what all the fuss is about - probably the unlikeliest candidate for popstardom ever. But he's already made his reputation on his musical muscle not his pin-up potential. His name is Andy Weatherall and Sabres of Paradise is his band.
Unlike meerkats, everybody stands mesmerised, fascintated - wondering what the musicians in this almost traditionhal band lin-up will do. The bass plyer looks like he's going to punch out th efront row as he strides to the fron tand thumps his foot down on the monitor. But when they play, it's not punk rock. It's not dance music either. It's an exotic thing. Impossible to place as a specific style or genre, it's a rich hotbed of sound, a global fusion. It's very beautiful. And it most definitely moves you.
Andrew Weatherall, in case the last five years have completely passed youi by, is a hevily tatooed lad from Windsor, with a rapier (or even sabre's) wit and an eclectic taste in records which soon brought him fame and a measure of fortune during those halcyon days of acid house when he used to lend a hand DJing at the seminal acid house holstelry Shoom.
Among those shaking their crushed velvet flares and winklepickers to Weatherall's records - anything from the Fall's 'Hit the North', PiL's 'Rise' to ambient Italians Sueno Latino and a cover version of Fleetwood Mac"s 'Oh Well' - were Primal Sceam, a full-on rock'n' roll band with kick-ass sattitude and serious vinyl addictions who'd been drawn into acid house by its hellbent-on-hedonism attitude and the eclectic nature of the music.
It was love at first sight. Each seized on the other's sense of adventure and, for want of a better steal, could not resist the chance musically to come together. The result was 'Loaded', a track Weatehrall remixed from teh Primals' ballad 'I'm Losing MOre Than I'll Ever Have'. It became a Top 20 record and an anthem for the E generation, breaking down a million anti-social boundaries between dance and rock music, and single-handledly creating that most horrifying of genres, indie-dance.
Bue it was a springboard that led to much greater things and today Weatherall has a gold disc on his wall for producing 'Screamadelica', the Mercury Prize-winning album by Primal Scream. He has another stormer of an album in the can for Glasgow's enchanting One Dove (see and hear Volume Six) ad is now a recording artist with Sabres of Paradise. Just what the world's been waiting for...
"Hopefully peopl's preconceptions will be shattered, " says Weatherall of the project, with a sizeable grin on his face "It's like when we did the live thing, we did three tracks and two of them were 90 beats per minute. I thin keveryone was expecting it just to be a mimed house PA. But the band looked great - the bass player looked like he was goint ot nut you or somthing.
"I love this music, but sometimes I'd rather see an 18-year-old geezer with his foot on the monitor and 'Fuck off' written all on his face than a coulple of boffins behind a screen. There's gotta be some sort of crossover - I ilike the faceless side od techno but sometimes it doesn't translate well. I think a bit more glamour can be put into it. I've always like bands that look like gangs, or look like they should have their own comic. Have I mentioned the Sabres of Paradise comic?
"Well, I'm not going to give the plot away. It's pretty ridiculous - Lord Sabres has gained immortality, but it's come to the '90s and youth culture is in such a sorry state that his eternal powers are going to be taken away unless he can come up with a new youth cult. So he creates a bit of a Frankenstein's monster using the last 200 years of youth cults and ganges - and the monster gets loose. Let's leave it at that."
Weatherall, alongside partners Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns (dance music's most distinguished engineers), appears to be echoing these sentiments by making a musical Frankenstein fo his own but, in this case, the dream should result in an even better reality. The aim is to draw as many people as possible into as many different styles of music as possible - creating a world where absolutely everything goes.
It will certainly be, he promises, diverse: "ranging from sampling 50-year-old Jamaican pre-reggae records to 15-minute tracks with no drumas and a million clocks and watches going off at once - no boundaries whatsoever."
SOP's debut single 'Smoke Belch' wil be released on his own Sabres of Paradise label in mid-August, followed by a techno album on Warp in September (hopfully coinciding with a tour). Then there's an ambient LP and "a funky, breatbeats, sort of dubby thing" waiting in the wings. And that's just the beginning.
"Once we've bought our modest programming suite it'll be like, get up in the morning with a ridiculous idea that's come from a bad dream of a particularly heavy pot-smoking session or somehting you've heard on the radio, and we can go straight in and work. It'll be totally ridiculous. We'll make The Aphex Twin look lazy once we get going."
Weatherall is one of the last people you could accuse of being lazy. DJing three nights a week, remixing (his latest projects have been Bjork and the new Brian Eno-produced James), recording hijmself, assembling his comic and his label, which is also called Sabres of Paradise and has been up and providing an edge on the glitter balls for a yearnow. Lazy!?
"Erm, what can I say? I got up on morning and thought, Yeah it'd be really cool to have a record label, wouldn't it? When I was at school I used to pretend I had a record label and make up, like, names for the label and artists and make up mad Top Tens. I used to make up a mad version of the NME with news stories about different bands. So I just do that now - only I actually put the records out."
He started the label when he moved away from Boys Own (the label that signed One Dove, Underworld, Denim and relaunched Jah Wobble's career) last year. The first release "slipped out secretly", was his remix of Throbbing Gristle's 'United' (now changing hands for L40) and recently he's been responsible for bringing Secret Knowledge to the dancefloors with 'Sugar Daddy', one of most in-demand tracks of this summer. "I'm just lucky. I seem to attract like-minded people who are doing stuff just for the love of it."
"I think that the best music is sometimes made by people who don't really know what they're doing. Its is isn't it?" says Weatherall with a chuckle, recalling the first time he was chucked in at the deep ind in a studio. "It's just luck. You kow, punk rock and what have you, it's like techno today: you just go in a and do it, it's that good attitude - just that throw enought whatsit at the wall and some of it will stick. I'm still like that now. I just take a chance, I've got not gameplans."
So what do you think of your dcontemporaries? What excites you now?
"Rock music, idnie music now just sounds so dated and sad and school rock bandi-ish. Perhaps if you haven't heard wobbly guitars and whingey vocals before, it's all fucking very refreashing - but when yu've listend to it for X number of years and then hear Apehx Twin record or some of the advanced techno records coming from Europe and America, that's where the sounds are. That's a lot more interesting than some whingey sith former who's wailing about the perils of still living at home.
"I haven't been this excited about music for years. There are all these records that all these wanky indie music jouranlists haven't got a clue about and, to me, that's half the fun. That's why I liked punk, that's why I like this stuff. You play one of these records to some of these journalists and it's (whiney voice), Oh, that's not music - and that, to me, is what it's all about."
After that rant, I presume there's ngoing to be a manifest?
"Yeah, well , I'm starting a club (a small Friday nighter just down the road from the original Shoom in south London) and the invite to that is a bit of a manifest, a rant - it's the classic, You will obey the rules, and the rule is there are no rules. Or I'll make them up as I go along. I've always like those people who seemed to be making it up as they go along, be it rules or the music of whatever they're doing.
"I feel sorry for peole who can't get off on different sorts of music. I genuinely think they need some sort of help - seriously, you've got to have some sort of fucked up brain. You should be getting involved in music because it's an escape from teh real world - not so you can go down one alley and adopt the rules.
"When we set up the Sabres' political party and get into power, there iwll be special clinis for these people. We'll round them up, theses blinkered purists, and goLook, you're a purist but, somewhere along the line, every form of music has come from something else. So they'll be rounded up in dawn raids and sent to camps for deprogramming."
So you're going to be our first pieced MP then?
"Yeah," he gigles. "Like I say, it's frustrating sometimes but in the end I just thingk, Fuck it, if you've got a closed mind then that's your hard luck...Let them eat cake."
Feature: Helen Mead Photos: Sally Harding