No band embodies the shift in attitude and action more than Primal Scream; Clash chats to our cover stars on how they tuned in and became the mascots of the Acid Revolution.
There is no other band that epitomises the sea change in attitude, direction or influence of acid house than Primal Scream. Having been uncompromising Punks from Glasgow they were quickly seduced by the drugs, sounds and community to embody THE shift in idealogy, music and social habit.
A lot of the acid house coverage over the last year has just focussed on the generic effects rather than the causes. Let’s talk about you in the Eighties…
I found myself in punk and post-punk. But I had a pretty good idea of who I was before acid house. We liked punk rock but we also liked other music such as Chic, The O’Jays, Donna Summer - disco pop records basically. That was the link to acid house, disco pop plus the squelchy sort of trippy sounds reminded me of, not so much Kraftwerk cos I never really knew Kraftwerk back then, but more like African Dub Chapter records. Soundscape and dub records. One of the first things Primal Scream ever done was a version of ‘Good Times’ by Chic - a very, very, very primitive version of it though. My mate playing bass through a distorted fuzz box and me banging on the metal box of Public Image Limited and just going “good times, good times”. I was in Jesus And Mary Chain before that. Punked out my nut on acid and speed. That was ’81. And ’84 to ’86 I was coming down to London and then Primal Scream rolled up. The first time I heard acid house was ’88, it was in Brighton.
Is that when you started mixing with the dance community?
Nah, there was no dance community there. We went down, we took speed. It was just kids dressed like housing estate kids, or kids who would go to the football. We were dressed like rock and roll kids with Chelsea boots and tight jeans on with long hair. Nobody bothered us and there wasn’t that many people there. But it was really weird music, a couple of decks set up, no bouncers. I remember going to see Spacemen Three around the same time and wanting to kick the audience cos they were all sitting on the floor and I thought, ‘What the fuck has that got to do with rock ‘n’ roll? Get up off your arses you lazy hippy cunts.’
So how long were you doing that before you started mixing it socially?
It was sometime in ’88 we went to that party but we never really went back to another one till the summer of 1989 really. To be honest with you, what attracted us the most was the drugs initially, the ecstasy. We thought it was the best drug ever and to get the E’s you had to go to the after-hours parties to buy them and sooner or later we got into the music…and there was always beautiful women there as well. And then we were out every night of the week, and then we were really buying the records, going to the clubs, going to Boys Own things, coming up to London you know. Staying up for four days and it never really crossed our minds to make music in that style. Towards the end of the summer of ’89, the NME sent Andrew Weatherall to write a piece on us and he came to Exeter writing a live review under the name Audrey Wetherspoon. We met him again at a party where he was DJing with Mark [Moore]. Weatherall said he loved our second album. The only other guy that would give us any respect was Mani and that’s a fucking fact right. Nobody else liked it, not even the record company nor the press. Then Jeff Barrett [Primal Scream press officer] and Andrew came up with the idea of getting him to remix a song called ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’.
That remix, which became ‘Loaded’, is hailed as one of the great turning points in modern music - do you think that is overstated?
No, no, it’s amazing because to us it was dub, disco, slide guitar, effects, 12”, Rolling Stones, funky, dirty funky guitars and horns; it had everything to do with music on the one track. We thought it was a reggae 12” mix: it was more than that - it just blew our minds. He just made everything possible for us. From ‘Loaded’ we got money, we bought a sampler, we started writing differently, we built out own studio and we made ‘Screamadelica’. And it was great, we were going out every night, taking E’s and listening to different DJs and staying up for days and eventually that found its way back into the music. We started writing music in a different way, recording it in a different way and we’d go to clubs, go to London and stay and come back to the hotel…we had a little studio set up and we’d start writing songs. We wrote ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ in that state.
So do you think you are more of a cause or an effect of the Acid House culture?
Both. But the friendships I made during that time are, you know - Mani, Weatherall, Jagzy [Kooner] - people I am always going to be friends with and people I made good work with. It all phases back into feeling good, you get a camaraderie in it - so if acid house hadn’t happened I don’t think that I would have met Mani in the Hacienda that night and I don’t think we would have played together. I know that for a fact. If I hadn’t have heard Andy DJing, I wouldn’t have became friends with him, he would never have done the remix for ‘Loaded’ and we would never have had a hit record; I wouldn’t even be alive right now or even talking to you. So it has been like a fantastic thing in my life, I can honestly say that. I’m sure my story is the same for thousands of others, millions that formed new friendships. It sounds quite idealistic but it’s the truth.
You can visit JUNOdownload.com to listen to and purchase a selection of the Acid House classics discussed in our retrospective.