Andrew Weatherall talks to Mr C
Andrew Wetherall came to Superfreq, and took some time out to chat to resident Mr C.
A cult figure and one of the most pivotal people in electronic music, Andrew Weatherall is an artist with many faces. Electronic pioneer, studio genius, indie-dance innovator, techno uber-lord, nu-electro master, and rockabilly crooner, Weatherall means much to many. Before his appearance at Superfreq in March '05, he took some time out to chat to club resident Mr C.
Mr C: Everyone's really looking forward to your appearance at Superfreq. Can you remember the last time you and I appeared on the same bill?
Andrew Weatherall: It was several years ago...in the Midlands...bit different from Superfreq. We were in separate rooms so we didn't really get the chance to hear one another play...!
Talking about the past, obviously the glory days of rave have been mythologised. But when you look back, what are the real highlights for you?
It's like the saying, 'If you can remember the Sixties you weren't there'! When you're standing in a field at 6am in the morning you don't really think to yourself, 'I'm part of an important movement for society and culture'. I'd been going to soul weekenders for years since my teens and for me, it was just an extension of that. Clubs are the catalyst. What happens after that is more important, what comes out of it - the music, the writing. There's all these programmes on television about how last Wednesday was so brilliant, but I don't sign on to that mentality that things were better back then.
Since then, you've been very consistent in your approach, always independent and famed for being so. Are there any changes that you've made over the years to how you work?
I've not made any changes...! If I don't enjoy doing what I do, I'll stop doing it. That's just common sense to me. I'm lucky because there wasn't a DJ culture when I started, so it wasn't so competitive. I didn't have to scramble like a lot of DJs have to nowadays. And as I'm not competitive, I haven't felt a need to make many changes.
I don't even use the Internet or emails. All these people are so annoyed that I haven't replied to their emails, but they didn't used to send me letters did they? I'm not a Luddite, but I'm not going to make changes because there's a new technology that's so amazing and is supposedly going to save us all, because it isn't and it won't.
What about the fact that other people see you as a 'legend'? What do you like about that and what do you dislike?
I don't really think about it. It's nice that people are interested. I don't want to be churlish and complain about it. I'm not one of those people who sits around moaning about the attention. If people want to give me 10 minutes of their time in a pub, or come up to me and say 'hi' when I'm out shopping then that's encouraging. Or even if they come up to me and tell me they think I'm a wanker, well, at least it's an interesting conversation! One of the best things is if people tell me that I've inspired them musically. It happened the other day when Tom Jenkinson of Squarepusher came up and talked to me about that. It's great when someone whose music I like, says that about my music.
If someone knew nothing about your music, and asked you which of all your releases they should listen to, what would you tell them?
I really couldn't give pointers, because it's all so varied. I could lead someone up a certain path and then they might be disappointed. Fundamentally I'd rather people look around themselves and perhaps disappoint themselves, rather than I disappoint them!
Out of everything you've released, what are you most proud of though?
All the Two Lone Swordsmen albums, particularly the most recent one. Releases often get judged because the artist is flavour of the month, and as I'm no longer flavour of the month those albums have been overlooked. When I was the new kid of the block I made some really average music which was really praised because of the time when it was released. The fact is those Swordsmen albums still sell now, and I like that because they're being judged more on their own musical merit.
I'm not knocking being flavour of the month either, it gave me a leg up. But when you're out of the limelight and you don't have that pressure you often produce better music. Staying out of the limelight isn't to build some sort of myth like some people think, it's simply that every minute I'm not in the studio is a minute that I'm not making music.
So is studio work what you enjoy most nowadays? Or is it DJing?
You can't do one without the other! If I've had a good weekend DJing, I'm in the studio full of ideas. One helps the other, it's about having an enthusiasm for music.
What about radio presenting? You've done that in the past, and I know many people would really like to hear you on the radio again in the future.
I'd love to have a regular radio show. Perhaps if I went out and networked a bit more, it might happen. I've done several shows on BBC radio, but I haven't had the 'call-back'. I don't always want to do what producers suggest, I was once asked to warm up the presenting style for a show at 3am in the morning when I wouldn't even be like that at 3pm in the afternoon. I don't really like that chummy approach.
Another thing you've been doing is singing, on your last album, 'The Double Gone Chapel'. What singers have inspired you?
Early rock 'n' roll singers mainly. I could reel off a list but it'd be pretty obvious stuff. Johnny Burnett, Gene Vincent. Joe Strummer. T-Rex. I like it when singers sound like they believe in what they're singing, not all these over-histrionics that are all the rage at the moment. Take someone like Mark E. Smith, he was all over the shop, but he's one of my favourite singers. Also Nick Cave...