Back in the mid-80s, Edinburgh’s Fini Tribe or finitribe depending on how and when they decided to spell it revolved around key members David Miller, Philip Pinsky and John Vick.
Early adopters of the sampler they released 12′”s on Wax Trax and their own label Finiflex. This month the excellent DesTestimony is getting a re-release, celebrating it’s 25 year anniversary replete with mixes from Optimo, Justin Robertson and a fair few more. We had a little chat with Dave about origins, reissues, working with Tom Watkins of East 17 fame, Sparks and the world in 100 years time.
Dave, to the uninitiated, tell us a bit about the origins of fini tribe
carpet tiles in a frying pan ! in other words no sound was out of bounds from the beginning . The official beginning was 1984 although we had all been working together in one form or other from schooldays . The Edinburgh music and club scene was really vibrant in the early 80s . We wore long coats and followed a great band called VISITORS. We listened to CAN and played clarionets . We were unconventional and stood out , we were not in with the hipsters and liked it that way.
Why the revisit to DeTestimony now and what inspired you to put this remix together? Was your first thought the 25th anniversary or did other factors come into play?
My first thought was ,Yes an anniversary of sorts. Trever Jackson got in touch with me to license the track for his wonderful Metal Dance compilation . He encouraged me to re release it. Its a record that I think we are all proud of . We were six people then and I guess it encapsulates a very creative time in our lives. We were a young team we did everything together and noised people up . Detestimony was the signature piece of performance we did at The Edinburgh Assembly Rooms ( see picture) called Absolution. We had moved away from drums bass and guitars by 1986 and were beginning to use tape machines and unusual instruments. We were influenced as much by Madonna as we were Einstuerzende Neubauten
Madonna was a huge influence on the track True Blue and this track Open your Heart was on our collective turntable for the whole summer…
on the other turntable would be Sheffield bands CHakk and Hula . So there is a bit of context
How did you go about choosing which remixes to put on the re-release? Our personal favourite is the Optimo remix. Did you ever get to the institution that was the Sunday night sermons at the Sub Club? I heard this on more than one occasion there.
Sadly I have never been , I need to rectify that soon. We knew Keith from his days at Pure but it happened purley by chance really . I was chatting with Stuart Mclean (frenchbloke/tauchsieder) on Twitter and Keith came into the conversation . He asked if he could do it ? And wow what a job he made. Its a really great intense mix , he has managed to retain the original but move it into the future.
Getting John ( finiflex) involved was obvious really he just makes fantastic sound.. Its really slow and driving . The Bell tune is a really difficult melody to work with .Its extremely dischordent and filthy. Not easy to work with. But slowing it down John has given it a different feel . its more sexy now ?
We love Justin and he was up for it straight way and I think he has taken to a very different place Its frenetic and very modern acid . Hes the dapper genius of acid house.
Robot 84 is Scott Fergusson a very old friend of the band . I discussed the project with Scott early last year and he was vey keen to have a go at it . It was Scott who got the ball rolling and kicking my ass to get it . Scott has a wonderful knowledge of music of all types . He wanted to make it really Balearic and I think he has done that superbly well. It just builds and builds. We played together in Ibiza last summer, we had a ball !
You’ve worked with some pretty familiar names throughout your career (Chas Smash, Jason Byrne, etc.), who has made for the most interesting experience?
Chas was great it was like being with an East End gangster , he was funny a very nice chap . He had the old Mark ii jag and we hung out with Madness for a bit .
I think with working Tom Watkins (Pet Shop Boys, Frankie, East 17) a old school music mogul was fascinating but ultimately led to us splitting up . He wanted us to be a pop Orbital and had major plans for us. It didnt work out that well. It led to us signing with Pete Tong at FFRR/ London . It was a fascinating incite into the real horrors of the major label music biz. If you read my friend John Nivens book Kill My Friends you will see it in all its ghastly glory . We had a great time but it wasnt us and we learned a lesson there.
The best people we worked with were Sparks , total genius on four legs and piano. We released National Crime Awreness Week on our label Fini Flex and toured with them. The most lovely eccentric people and we felt very proud to be able to reintroduce them to the music world when we did. They have gone from strength to strenght since and they remain friends. Real music royalty and a pleasure doing business with them 🙂
How did it feel to have Irvine Welsh call your music the songs he “refused to grow up to”?
Its a great honour to know that we played a part in his musical choices. Irvine is a really lovely guy, we had a long night out in Glasgow this Christmas with all our old buddies . You know our connection goes way back and extends to our mutual friendship with lots of people in Edinburgh and Leith, our football team ( Hibernian FC) and I guess our love of music culture.
?What do you think the biggest change in the music industry has been in the last 25 years outside of the obvious digitisation of the recorded world?
I think it must be the Internet as a whole . When we last released a record there was no internet as we know it. We couldnt have a web page , facebook page, twitter. Etc. I have noticed how much you need these tools now but also it gives you back a bit of control and freedom . However I fear music just disappears now , I still cant get used to downloads, sure its useful for when you dj, you carry a memory stick but I like to hold a bit of vinyl. It was important this release came out on vinyl , it was a statement of intent , a physical object that people can get involved in.
SO as much as I love the new technologies that help musicians get music to the people who want it I also love a bit of old school.
You performed 3 session for the legendary John Peel, do you think that radio is currently lacking figures like John Peel, helping publicise up and coming artists?
I love radio and listen to it more than any other medium. I think its great to be able to listen to shows in Australia and New York via the internet. We were so lucky to have John , he was a one off. I think it unfair to compare anyone to him really. I think there are loads of DJs who do a wonderful job. For me I just need to turn on Radio 6 and I hear everything, perhaps it isnt delivered in the same wonderful way that John did but I think he would agrre it wasnt about him it was the music that matters. Radio is really wonderful , I dont have a TV anymore I have a screen I watch things on but I prefer radio for everything from Radio 4 plays to Andy Murray winning Wimbledon to Andrew Weatheralls six mixes.
Wikipedia states that “The members of Finitribe are known to be vegetarian.” Is this true? If so, why? (Source: wikipedia.org/wiki/Finitribe#Vegetarianism )
No it’s not true . John is a vegetarian but thats it and even he eats fish that he catches himself. I think it evolved from our run in with MCDonalds, when we promoted our single Animal Farm with a poster explicitly telling them to FUCK OFF Personally I will always love a bacon roll but I respect veggies choice not to. I am annoyed with blooming Wikipedia. I want to update our history and other inaccuracies but it won’t let me . I need some help if anyone out there knows how to do it I would be very grateful .
What do you make of the ‘vinyl revival’?
I love vinyl but I also love records shops. Its where I learnt everything. Its so sad that they are disappearing . The rise of vinyl is a niche market but it may help the wonderful people who run these shops of musical knowledge a hand. When I was 16 they were my favourite place to be on a Saturday morning. It was a buzz . I think vinyl records are really really special objects. They are pieces of art to me. Im glad CDs are on the way out. They were quite awful ! One day when I am old I would like to own a record shop just so friends coud come and hang out and play records and drink tea . You wouldnt even have to buy them, just come in for the chat and the music. That would be my idea of paradise
What do you think the world will be like in 100 years?
I have no idea but perhaps it will be more wonderful than it is now. Obviously there are terrible things happening in the world but that has always been the case. I would like to think we would find a less greedy more inclusive world. I am in love with Iceland just now and I think it is a model for a modern world . Very little crime , no armed forces , clean, wonderful people etc etc etc .
Is there any chance of Fini Tribe releasing anything completely new in the future?
Not Fini Tribe but John and I are starting work on an entirely new project which is very exciting, we have lots of new ideas and would hope to be releasing that next year. We want to have a bit of fun with Fini Tribe / Finiflex Production. So we will be releasing some more reissues and perhaps an album of remixes
Anything we might have missed that needs discussing?