Mark Barrott’s The Italian Job
After two reasonably well received ambient Drum n Bass albums in the mid 90s, I decided to make a more dance floor friendly album and thus, the third Future Loop Foundation album was decidedly more ‘jump up’ (as I believe they call it). Looking back, for me as an artist, it’s a contrived embarrassment and a million miles from International Feel and Sketches but thats not the point of this story, the fact that I started to tour it with a live MC is…
One day, me and said MC found ourselves in Southern Italy, to play a festival in Naples. Now, it’s worth bearing in mind that Mr MC (real name withheld to protect the innocent) was (in his mind at least) very ‘street’. However, street enough to have been privately educated, Ghanian tribal royalty and also (and this does have a bearing on the story, the British Jujitsu Champion).
We arrive at silly o’clock in Rome Airport and as we’re waiting for the bags, he lays down on the floor to rest. Next minute we’re surrounded by 4-5 police with machine guns and been escorted out of the airport to a holding area a few mins away (and this was before Sept 11th). Being rather health conscious, Mr Jujitsu has lots of vitamins with him (pills….not good), so he’s bundled off into a side room and I’m left outside, still covered by a gun.
The room in question has blinds that are partially open and after a few mins I look inside and I see Mr Naked MC bent over touching his toes (and thats never good). I look at the guy in front of me (still with a gun) and say 'OK, how long before it’s me'. He looks at me shocked and says ‘why would we strip search you?’ Hopefully I don’t need to say the obvious here.
Finally we’re on our way to the festival and we arrive in Naples to the coldest November day in 100 years (i.e. not good for an outdoor festival). At first glance the bill looks great, me, Sugar Hill Gang and Underworld.
Then I read the small print and underneath Underworld it says ‘tour DJ Darren Price’! And then Sugar Hill gang arrive, at least I think it’s them, as all I can see is a few ‘gentlemen of size’ in shabby looking shell suits.
The promoters expected to sell 6- 10,000 tickets (we’re in a football stadium). They’ve sold 600 and thus, are not at all happy and look v. mean (more on this later). Anyway, I’m off sound checking, whilst my girlfriend is at the side of the stage watching. She goes back to our portacabin for a pee and comes back looking VERY white and shocked. After leaving the toilet in the porta-cabin, the security guard ‘looking after us’ was there blocking her exit and promptly unzipped himself and plonked his dick into her hands! Yes, I know, unbelievable… but true.
Now I’m getting pretty mad. No one on the production team gives a toss and so still miffed, off we go to play to 600 people, nearly freeze to death and then it’s time to get paid. I walk into the production office and in there are 8-10 guys all staring at me and still looking mean, as I ask for my money. Sorry they say, no can do, poor attendance etc etc. NOW I’M FUMING and lose all reason. I start screaming ‘pay me my fucking money….now’ I rant over and over, without really realising that they have enclosed me in a circle and at least two of them are showing me the guns in their waste bands. Ah, it’s a mafia thing, I realise, but I’m so FUCKING MAD I just keep yelling my ‘pay me’ mantra over and over. Mr Jujitsu MC pops his head around the corner and asks if I need any help and I tell him to get out and fuck off so I can keep on screaming.
Eventually they paid. Looking back, it was a totally stupid thing to do, like when you see someone trapped underneath a car and somehow get superhuman strength to move it. In the cold light of day to keep screaming at 8 guys with guns who have enclosed you in a tight circle is simply ridiculous, but at the time, after the airport, the dick in the hand and everything else, I just wanted my money, and I got it. Then my adrenalin evaporated and we legged it… double quick.
A few years later, we went to live in Italy for 3 years (glutton for punishment.com), so believe me, there’s plenty more stories to come.
Listen to a sample of the forthcoming Mark Barrott LP HERE.