DECKSIDE DEMON, DEMISED. THE ACID HOUSE ARCHDUKE'S ARRIVEDERCI
February 23, 2020
Never met Mr W, this interview was a short phonecall for copy to be included in the programme I edited and wrote for Madness's first ever House of Fun in 2011. Instantly likeable chap and I thought about our short chat and given the understandable sorrow and loss felt by family and friends thought it was apt to put it up on this long neglected site. So, here it is...RIP, Andy.
As a producer Andrew Andy Weatherall helped Primal Scream reinvent themselves on Screamadelica ,as a DJ he plays tunes taken from every genre, pillaging from across the decades to provide an orgy of Aural congress.
He’s a Techno Titan, a rockabilly rebel, the Archduke of Acid House and a demon on the Decks.
Andy has been a freelance music journalist, a performer in his own right in the Sabres Of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen and he’s helped buff up, remix and generally tweak recordings for Happy Mondays, Bjork, My Bloody Valentine, New Order and many, many more.
Born in Windsor in 1963, currently sporting a deceptive Edwardian style, Weatherall says humour is pivotal to what he does making him a perfect candidate to drive the wheels of steel at The House of Fun.
Before he settles down, gets strapped into the console and starts downing the brandy, we collared Andy to give us some insight to his disc spinning exploits.
So imagine someone out there has no idea what an Andy Weatherall DJ set will consist of.
What can they expect ?
As Andy Weatherall I have no idea either its difficult enough for me never mind other people to know what I’m going to do. Last night I was out playing rockabilly, there’s weekends where I play that ,post punk, disco and Techno - it depends what time of night I’m on, who is on before, who is on afterwards. I don’t just turn up and play 2 hours, this is what I do like it or lump it sort of thing - I try and make myself part of the night, part of the flow of the night. I pick up on the vibe it’ll probably be Cosmic disco for the House of Fun, I don’t think it's the place to break out rare dubstep.
A memorable DJing story from your early days
One of the earliest professional gigs was in 1984 before smoke machines and dry ice were all the rage with Acid House. Playing the ‘Theme From the 633 Squadron’ and filling the club with smoke for the intro didn’t go down too well. I had people running round the club with their arms outstretched playing aeroplanes. The guy promoting looked at me like I was taking the piss and threw me out.
What are essential accoutrements, apart from your music, when you DJ?
A smart pair of brogues and a bottle of brandy. I was playing the other night and I got very drunk indeed its weird, real mind over matter. I’ve been really drunk but once I start concentrating on what I’m doing you stop feeling drunk for the 2 or 3 hours you’re playing, concentrating really hard on what I do overcomes the drunkenness. As soon as I stop playing I can be falling over again it's very strange but concentrating really hard can overcome the alcohol. It sounds like famous last words as we flash forward to The House of Fun Weekender and there’s footage of me making a complete arse of myself.
What DJ did you learn most from
I’d say John Peel was the introduction to eclecticism. I had been a bit confused as a kid loving punk AND disco the two weren’t exactly supposed to go together but listening to Peel made it clear there are no boundaries.
Is there a cardinal DJing sin?
Taking too much cocaine , DJ’s don’t perform at their best when they are on the old chisel. Insularity, panic, impatience all the things associated with that drug that’s what comes out. Would be the same if you gave it to anyone doing a job, if you give it to a plumber it would be a pretty slapdash job, corners would be cut.
Is there a record you can fall back on if things are in dire need of a lift in your set.
Well I don’t want to sound too arrogant but I’m rarely in dire straits. Again - flash forward to the House of Fun. At the minute I have a re-edit of M’s Pop Music which unites people, just the right side of the cheese line. If things are a little bit lacklustre it's one you can pull out, appeals to all sorts.
Lyrics in dance music are rarely candidates for an Ivor Novello Award so I’ll go for Bo Diddley “I walk 20 miles of barbed wire/Wear a rattlesnake for a necktie/Who do you love?”
C’mon Everybody by Eddie Cochran
Most remarkable thing you’ve seen happen on a dancefloor
“I haven’t seen them because I concentrate so much. But friends are always saying did you see that girl or that man doing something outrageous. Actually I played at Horsemeat disco and there’s a guy who turns up just wears shoes and socks totally knacker bare. I didn’t see it, I was concentrating so much. An angel could descend from heaven turn water into wine 3 feet in front of me and I wouldn’t know.
Advice to dancers?
Just for God Sakes keep in time (laughs) you’d be surprised, it's so annoying. Like Les Dawson could play the piano a semitone out, flat or sharp to do that you must be a good pianist. I see that with dancers all the time, a microbeat out you know they must be a really good dancer. I usually get stuck behind them at reggae gigs, the one with the shit sense of rhythm and you start following them rather than the music.
What’s your favourite Funhouse to play
The Robert Johnson in Frankfurt is a pretty amazing place, holding 200 people in an old yacht club overlooking the river, has an amazing sound system. It's my favourite club.
Ever eaten anything remarkable
“At the risk of outraging animal lovers I have eaten Shark’s Fin soup. Unusual,unethical, not my proudest moment.”
What elements would you put in a Family Crest?
A pair of crossed Asphodels, it's the Victorian flower of regret.