In Conversation with…Bad Company UK
When legendary Drum and Bass pioneers Bad Company UK and the equally pioneering twenty-five year strong Ram Records joined ranks, it was clear the consequences would be historic. Both have spent decades helming the drum & bass genre, becoming a definitive part of its fabric.
The most recent chapter of the story began when Bad Company UK made a welcome return in 2016, which led to them signing exclusively to the Ram Records imprint. Longstanding fans and new listeners alike have been treated with brand new music; from their remix of the Prodigy’s The Day is My Enemy, to their standalone singles Equilibrium, Nomad and Tetris. This year has also seen them digitally release their classic albums; Inside The Machine, Digital Nation, Book Of The Bad and Shot Down On Safari. And following an extensive worldwide tour, which saw them take their sound across Europe and the USA, as well as Japan and New Zealand, D Bridge, Fresh, Maldini and Vegas return with forthcoming record Primal Fire ft. Sitka.
We sat down with them recently ahead of their new release ‘Primal Fire’ (grab a copy here) to discuss the return, Ram Records and juggling their own projects, here’s what went down.
Hi guys, thanks for speaking to us! Your signing to Ram Records came as a shock – although with your return it also seemed like a logical step, with both parties having had such a huge influence on drum & bass over the years. But what is it that draws you to Ram compared to other labels? You’ve had releases with them previously; did you want to return to your roots?
Vegas: We have had a long long relationship with Ram and Andy C. It’s a great label and has truly stood fast over the years becoming the pinnacle of DNB. We feel at home there….
Your remix of The Prodigy track ‘The Day is My Enemy’ was your first release on Ram since your exclusive signing. What made you choose this track to go alongside the announcement? And how did the remix come about? Had this been prepared prior to your return, or was this a deciding factor for you to make a comeback, following your phone call with Obi (Echolocation)?
Vegas: Maldini and myself played at Pirate Station ‘Love’ party in 2015 and between the DJ sets they put on a huge show just before we played. ‘The Day Is My Enemy’ was the backing track with maybe 100 or more drum line drummer girls and literally the biggest stage set I’ve seen…… this was the first time we had heard it and didn’t even know who made it. We were purely into the track organically. When I got home I contacted the promoter to ask what the hell that track was. It’s always cool to have a couple of VIP bits up our sleeves for big gigs and when we first started working on this initially it was purely with that in mind….when the chance came for it to become an official remix and come out on Ram we were real happy with that. Natural flow!
Nomad and Tetris are huge tracks, more reminiscent of the earlier drum & bass style whilst still having that contemporary feel. Was there a reason for the cinematic intro in Nomad – do you think this has an overall effect on the track’s importance and vibe? And in regards to Tetris, why did you choose to run with that old-school style sample? Was it an homage to your roots?
Fresh: When we’re together in the room we know what Bad Company UK is… it’s something we don’t have to discuss or debate we can all feel it. And we put out our antennae and put down what comes to us. The signing to Ram makes sense to us as Andy has always been our ear to the ground and our main person for feedback since the beginning. But when we’re in that room we do Bad Company… no compromises.
How did you find the featuring vocalist Sitka for your most recent single ‘Primal Fire’? What was it about her that made you want to work with her and how do you think she compliments the track? Can you pinpoint why you chose to follow this route in terms of its layout?
Fresh: I found her through AR talent agency. I liked that she had a unique sound, her Scandinavian accent, and her ideas sound like something from another place.. and that’s just what inspires us.
Drum & bass has certainly changed over the years, as you’ve mentioned in previous interviews. What most stands out to you as the primary differences between when you started out, and now – that’s in terms of crowds, venues and how you release on a label? Do you think any of these changes have had a widely negative or positive impact on the genre? Do you feel like drum & bass tracks are getting too short nowadays?
Vegas: Ok yeah there is a tendency lately to cater for what we call the ADD crew. Also, the way everyone mixes nowadays it seems like all you need is 64bars. But in our true defiant nature, we just do what we like in the studio and everyone can have their opinion good or bad… that’s life.
You each have your own projects you work on separately from your time together as Bad Company UK. How difficult is it to juggle both aspects? Do you find it’s been a relief to take some time out and work together again and does it refresh you to come back to your individual work?
Vegas: I personally find it all growing from the same bush, it’s not about juggling, more about balance. My record label Bad Taste Recordings supplies me with a great deal of amazing music that I play out as Bad Company UK and is very much a part of my musical puzzle as a DJ. It’s been an honour to find so many amazing tracks from such talented artists, old and new.
Since your return, you’ve certainly reset a standard, especially with your DJ sets. Were you nervous about reuniting at Fabric, in the drum & bass capital? How did it feel to finally come back and play together again?
Vegas: The Fabric set was truly a special moment, you could feel it in the air. The pressure dropped. Being there to witness this energy makes our journey worthwhile.