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Meat Beat Manifesto - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

The Off-Centre Meat Beat Manifesto of...

December 2005

MVRemix: Meat Beat Manifesto just released an EP called ‘Off-Centre’ on Thirsty Ear. Tell us about it.

Jack Dangers: There are a couple of tracks which were from the same session but didn’t actually make it onto the album called ‘At the Center’. Those tracks are called ‘Postcards’ and ‘Maintain Discipline’. Those are the new tracks. There are a couple of live versions from the tour we did that summer. Plus, there’s a remix of ‘Wild’ and an extra track called ‘Dummyhead Stereo’. It just sort of came together. The EP is a release of the remaining tracks. We were going to be touring in the south, but we’re waiting until February now.

MVRemix: How do you feel Meat Beat Manifesto has changed from the days of ‘Storm The Studio’ to ‘Off-Centre’?

Jack Dangers: The new album is definitely different than anything I have ever done before. That’s mainly because it is part of The Blue Series on Thirsty Ear. They’ve done a couple of releases for El-P and DJ Spooky. They are doing one with Beans, at the moment. For my album on The Blue Series, those cats I worked with are cats who work with Thirsty Ear. I’d liked working with Dave and Craig. It was a good melding of minds. Musically, it is very jazzy, which is completely different from anything I have ever done before that. I touched on it a little bit before. On ‘Actual Sounds & Voices’, I worked with Bennie Maupin and Pat Gleeson, who worked with Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis during the 60’s and 70’s. Even on ‘99%’, there’s a track called ‘Hello Teenage America’ which samples Horace Silver’s ‘Song For My Father’.

MVRemix: Didn’t everyone think that sample in ‘Hello Teenage America’ was from ‘Charlie Brown’?

Jack Dangers: Yeah, people always think that it is either ‘Charlie Brown’ or Steelie Dan’s ‘Ricky Don’t Lose That Number’. It has that same kind of chord progression. The original was done in the early 1960’s. That was the first time that type of piano chord progression was done.

MVRemix: I always thought that ‘Hello Teenage America’ was a magnificent example of how beats can be matched with a sample.

Jack Dangers: Yeah, it was in a dubby way. In Perennial Divide, I used to play soprano saxophone. I always liked Jazz and had been interested in it, but it never was a main part of my music until this new album.

MVRemix: How did you get involved with Thirst Ear?

Jack Dangers: I did some remixes for DJ Wally. They liked them so much that they wanted to do this. I started to do some work with them and they liked it.

MVRemix: What label will release the future Meat Beat Manifesto albums?

Jack Dangers: I don’t know at this point. We thought about doing another album, but it won’t be anything like this one. It will be more like the traditional Meat Beat sound. We’re using a lot of visuals. We’re thinking more of a DVD release. There will be a music disc and a DVD disc. The DVD will basically be comprised of video sessions from stuff that has been recorded. It will be done with drummers. It’s going to be a lot of work, but maybe in a year from now, we’ll have something ready. We’re talking about that now, but we are definitely still in touring mode at this point.

MVRemix: How has thee tour been going?

Jack Dangers: We just got back from Europe. It was great. We did like 6 shows over there. We did a couple of shows in Paris. I think we’re going back to Japan in the new year.

MVRemix: How has your live show evolved?

Jack Dangers: Something that we always wanted to do, ever since we worked with E.B.N. in the mid-90’s, was use a lot of visuals. You know E.B.N.?

MVRemix: Of course, Broadcast Network. I also saw you when Consolidated opened up for you.

Jack Dangers: Yeah, I still work with Mark Pistel. He tours with us. He used to be in Consolidated.

MVRemix: How are European audiences different from American audiences?

Jack Dangers: Instead of Americans being tanned with white teeth, Europeans are white with tanned teeth.

MVRemix: Okay, back to your live show. What is your live show like these days?

Jack Dangers: We use a lot of visual sampling. A lot of the old Meat Beat tracks have spoken word samples. A lot of them were from film and television, just because I couldn’t get my hands on some really good vinyl collection when I was living in England, during the 80’s. Over here is a better place to do that.

MVRemix: California does have some amazing record shops.

Jack Dangers: Yeah, especially for the golden era of hip-hop, Public Enemy style. Anyway, I had to rely on things that I found on television and film. A lot of those earlier samples have visuals attached to them. During the pre-production work for our tour, we went back through the older stuff and pulled samples that had visuals attached to them. We made them into visual samples, using a program that a friend of mine actually wrote. You can trigger the actual visual sample by keyboard. Now, we project them on a screen when performing live. When we perform live, it’s still very visual, like the show you would have seen with the dancers. At that time, I always explained it as 3-dimensional imagery. Then, we were with 6 dancers in spectacular latex costumes, which changed every other song. That was great for that time. We did it between 1987 and 1990. We toured that way for about 3 years. That was enough for me. It was getting to me. If we would have carried on anymore, it would have gotten to be like Gwar or something. So, I started working films and slides. I still work with dancers, but he’s more of a hip-hop dancer. His name is Banksy.

MVRemix: Is Banksy still in Meat Beat Manifesto?

Jack Dangers: No. He lives in England. Once I moved over here back in 1994, we didn’t really do anything else. We did one more tour in 1998, where I dragged him over here. Now, the visual elements with the screens and the samples work. If you like our older stuff, it is interesting to see where the samples are from. That caught people’s attention.

MVRemix: What was the story behind the dancers in spiked latex suits?

Jack Dangers: I was working with a couple of dancers from Valley Rumba at that time. They were based in London in 1987. A friend of mine in London was a costume designer. He actually ended up doing latex costumes for the Batman movies. He had this whole process in the 80’s to make these spiky things. He had a whole line of bags with spikes. He just made sheets and sheets of this latex stuff and made them into couches. He’s a very talented guy named Craig Morrison. I haven’t seen him for 15 years. That was a good thing for that time. That’s why we did it. The whole thing like that hasn’t been done before. We had the three of us doing the music and four dancers.

MVRemix: The line-up for Meat Beat Manifesto has also changed over the years.

Jack Dangers: Meat Beat has primarily been me, working with different people. Right up until now, it has been the same. I have always written everything. On this new album, it was the first time I ever co-wrote anything with someone else. Up until the new album, I always wrote everything. On the new album, I wrote some songs with the flute player, Peter Gordon. Before that, I always wrote everything. It’s sort of like The Orb, how Alex always works with different people but it is always him. It is more along those lines.

MVRemix: Is there a deeper meaning behind the name, Meat Beat Manifesto?

Jack Dangers: No, it’s just a bunch of words strung together to form a name, much like The Butthole Surfers. What does that mean? Does that mean they surf on butt holes? After a while, the name doesn’t really say anything. It’s a moniker. Throbbing Gristle. It’s good to have a memorable name. Tortoise, what does that mean? Where did you get your name from? ‘Well, I have a pet tortoise’. Who knows?

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"We thought about doing another album, but it won’t be anything like this one. It will be more like the traditional Meat Beat sound."