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Back to the Phuture: “This was 20 years or so in the making”

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Rio, I assume you’re fairly heavily in the new material yourself. How did you get involved, and what do you see yourself as bringing to the outfit when you play live?

Rio: Like Spanky said, he’s been after me for years. The first time he approached me about it, I’m trying to think what year it was, it was the late 90s I believe? It was around 99 or 2000. At the time, I mean I liked house and stuff, and I did enjoy going to clubs and dancing all night and whatever, coming home at seven o’clock in the morning. But I never thought about playing it. Because I came in from a jazz background, playing RnB and funk and that kind of stuff. I was touring around on different countries, mostly Europe and stuff and playing with different RnB acts, anybody you could imagine. And I guess I never realised how big Phuture was, but the thing that blew me away is that this whole acid thing really got started with Phuture.

There was a sense they never got their just dues for what was created in Chicago. I said to them, how come you’re not sitting in a big house on a hill somewhere smoking a cigar? This is crazy. Everybody ran away with the sound that got created by these three guys, and nobody knows about it. Now the whole world is dancing away with smiley faces everywhere, and they’re still working regular jobs. It’s unreal. So it was that anger that made me say, let’s do it. We don’t have time to sit around and play games, we got around 20 years to make up for. We gotta go into double time. Now I look at what they call producers now, and when I was at school the producer was a person that was able to play a guitar or whatever. And that’s what I do, I’m able to play around 13 different instruments. But now a producer is a DJ. A lot of them don’t even know anything about what a producer does, if they even know about key changes and stuff. We couldn’t push buttons to fix problems, we had to know and feel what to do. I love what we have now, because I feel that we have an edge. With a lot of the groups, it’s all about boxes, it’s all about turntables, stuff with lights that you can manipulate the crap out of. Meanwhile, we all go on stage unrehearsed, turn on a drum machine and rip it raw.

I got that idea from looking at the Grateful Dead – this group is rock, but you don’t see their albums in the store, even though they can bring all these people, and they all follow, and everything is right there – we can do that too, we can compete with Skrillex, anybody that’s out there. Not trying to beat anybody, but to mark our territory.

Pierre: Skrillex, he’s actually a cool dude. I ran into him in Chicago a few years ago, and he was all excited, he was like a kid in a candy store. ‘DJ Pierre, DJ Pierre, man I love acid house! I love it! Man come in my trailer, come on. Listen to the tracks I made.’ He’s showing my all the tracks he made, we hung out for like 30-40 minutes just him and I, just vibing and talking. He did some stuff with Boys Noize and that was before it came out, we just exchanged information. He’s one of the people I’m in communication with to try and get something going, and they’re excited to hook up because they really like to go deep into the music and understand where it came from, and when I hook up with original people and stuff like that. Then they see that, wow you guys are still doing it. I love your production and what you’re doing, and they wanna get involved, and it adds credibility to their legacy. So no disrespect to nobody, because I think people have done nothing but shown us respect.

And I think, respect to all the fans out there, because you know what, if our fanbase wasn’t in contact with us and being supportive, it wouldn’t even make sense to do this. As I always like to say, we’re only as strong as our fans make us. They communicate, they talk over the internet, and they’re always just there being outspoken and encouraging us to just come back out with new music and to keep things moving, They’re like yo, we need you.

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How do you feel to have created a record as seminal and pioneering as Acid Tracks?

Pierre: Something important was said to me from Propellerhead Software, someone really high up. He said you know what, out of all the forms of music in this world, from the past to the present, he said that as far as he knew, acid house is the only form of music that could be traced to back to one group – right here, Phuture. If you’re thinking of rock or jazz, you’ve got many people and you don’t know who was the first, or who did what. You know of a group of people or a culture, but you can’t track it to a couple of guys, you just can’t do it.

He said that acid house was the reason they started their company, period. The first product they made was Rebirth, and that’s because they wanted to remake the 303 in a software version.  And I’ve heard stories like this from other people and other companies, and I’m even looking at Roland. Nobody would be looking to remake the 303 if not for the groundbreaking stuff that we did in our youth. So think that has a powerful impact on the electronic music scene behind the scenes.

You’ve had some pretty special gigs to start things up again. As well as the Boiler Room, you’ve played the Opera House in Sydney and Berghain in Berlin.

Pierre: It’s a landmark tour for us. We’ve been selective with our gigs though. You just gotta do the right shows that put you in the right position, raises your profile and points you in the right direction, so you can keep moving in the direction that you wanna go in. You can’t just take any gig you know?

Tell us about how you will be interacting on stage. Rio, you’re going to be bringing a special live element to it?

Rio: I like to explain my role as kind of like a ‘wedge’. Pierre comes out to kick things off with the acid and the turntables, because everybody knows Pierre for that. And then Spanky comes in tweaking the knobs and stuff, cause he’s known for that too. And then I come in to kind of sum it all up, I’m creating some of the acid on the guitar, or doing it on the bass or something like that. It adds a whole new mindblowing element to it.

Pierre: We’re playing the 303 through his guitar on the midi, so that’s an interesting new element. And also, with the album we’re going to be adding live elements to the acid. We definitely want to touch upon that and expand upon that. Live though, I’ll be working with a regular DJ mixer and a 303 next to me. I’ll be tweaking that on certain tracks, but I’ll also be using effects in the mixer and dropping little bits of samples and loops. Keeping things interesting.

Spanky: I’m gonna be doing a lot of the vocals, sampling and machines, and some of the 303 action as well. It’s gonna be pretty exciting for people to see.

Words: Angus Thomas Patterson

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