Last night. I nodded slowly and earnestly as I pretended to know who The Magnetic Fields were. I smirked, shook my head and rolled my eyes when Simian Mobile Disco told me what the singer out of The Magnetic Fields once said about fingers. I finished my pint, sighed and looked around the bar of the Northolt Wetherspoon’s, and I wondered out loud if Wetherspoon’s is still a funny setting to host an imaginary summit between Tonka and Simian Mobile Disco for an interview I actually conducted as a faceless Q&A on email last week. “Let’s take this conversation somewhere funnier”, I bellowed and punched the one with the big hair playfully on the shoulder. I snapped my fingers, said the magic words; “bish, bash, bosh”, and, at once, we were all sat in an igloo on the North fucking Pole! The one with the steamed-up glasses said, “brrrrrr”, shook his head, and I knew he was right; this location wouldn’t do, either.
SNAP - “Bish, bash, bosh.”
This time, we were sat right on the equator, all perched on top of the Monumento a la Mitad del Mundo in Equador! The one with the big hair went straight for his monogrammed hankie to dab the sweat off his forehead. I made a joke about him not being able to find his head underneath all that hair, and before he could come back at me, I snapped my fingers and said the magic words.
“Bish, bash, bosh.”
“What do you reckon, lads?” I offered. “W-w-w-w-where are we?” they both spluttered. I told them to open their fucking eyes and they’d see. We were right back where we started; sat in the comfy cosy warmth of the Northolt Wetherspoon’s in Northolt, nestled in between the gambling machines and the mummy pub club across the way. Sometimes, life has a funny way of showing you that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the world, and that, in a funny, kooky, zany kind of way, interviewing dance music producers and DJs is always best conducted in a Wetherspoon’s pub, even if the interview didn’t even take place in person. Know what I mean? I got another round in.
Brentford Barry approached our table and asked me who the fucking hell I’m drinking with. I said, “guys, Brentford Barry is unfamiliar with Simian Mobile Disco. Could you tell him who you are, what you do and why you do it, please?”
A. We make electronic music, partly out of curiosity, but in the main we do it for the status that it affords us.
Barry was satisfied with their response and moved on. He was still in his Royal Ascot suit and top hat from a few months ago, bless him. I called the old cunt back and told him that I was sat drinking with a famous DJ/Producer collective and that he should look a little more impressed. “First off”, he said, “they’re a duo, Tonks. They’re NOT a fucking collective. And second, if they’re that famous for producing, they must have an album out in the shops I can buy, or something. Have they?” I said, “It’s funny you say that, Barry, Simian Mobile Disco have an album called Anthology: 10 Years of SMD out on Friday 20 October 2017 (TODAY) on Wichita Recordings. Lads, tell him all about it.”
A. It’s a compilation of our personal highlights spanning our career to date, including tracks from all our studio albums, singles on our Delicacies label, and the special 27-minute track we did for Nike to run to (imaginatively titled Run).
“Is it any good?” I can’t remember if it was me or Barry who asked that.
A. We’d modestly say yes, it is quite good, but we’ll let our fans be the judge of that.
Just then, Draper burst through the saloon doors of the pub and gambolled over to our table, skittled Brentford Barry out of the way and, like the nosey parker he is, asked us what we were talking about. I told him we were bragging about the new Simian Mobile Disco Anthology album to Brentford Barry. Draper looked interested, but his interests have always been vulgar, and he fucking showed me up with what he started asking them…
“How much does it cost to buy?”
A. Hmm not sure – probably £8 or so digitally? Will be on all your favourite streaming places, too.
“Nice one. How much did it cost to make?”
A. Well, there’s two ways of looking at that. In one sense, it took us ten years of pretty hard graft, tens of thousands of pounds of studio equipment, studio rental and probably some parts of our souls. Or, taking the short view: not very much at all, as all the music is there.
“How much do you reckon you'll make off of it, lads?”
A. No idea. Probably not a great deal!
“What shops can we buy it in?
A. Any digital store, like this one here.
I said, “Fuck me, Draper. They’re not the kind of questions you ask in an interview like this, you daft apeth. Come here.” I beckoned him down towards my face, and I whispered in his ear, “ask them what their favourite song on the album is.” And he did.
A. When Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields was asked, “which is your favourite song you’ve written?” he replied, “I don’t know, which is your favourite finger?”. It’s hard to pick one.
We all laughed at the idiocy of Draper’s question and he skulked off with his cock between his legs to the snug where his mates were all playing Pokémon Go. “What a twat”, I sniggered, “Stephin Merritt, eh? I like him”, I fibbed. I nodded slowly and earnestly as I pretended to know who The Magnetic Fields were. Simian Mobile Disco then started to elaborate on The Magnetic Fields, and I could feel myself drowning in my own lies. I couldn’t keep up, so I forced a laddish burp and talked over them whilst staring at the ceiling.
“In about 2007, I high-fived the one with the big hair after you played 'Out Of Space' by The Prodigy in Room 2 at Club Fabric. Do you usually high-five punters after you've played an old-school classic?”
A. You were a very special exception.
Still staring at the ceiling.
“Who's the best, Simian or Simian Mobile Disco?”
I chortled at the cleverness of my question. I was now firing through the gears, but SMD threw me by answering my question with a question of their own.
A. Who’s the best, your mum or your dad?
I said that I hate them both equally, but their curveball of a response really took my breath away, took me by surprise AND took me the wrong way down a one-way street, in cerebral terms. I’d lost my confidence a bit and the doubts started to creep in. Brentford Barry had got inside my head and I started to flounder. I took a large slurp of 1664 and my stupid fucking mouth started talking.
“How did you come up with the moniker, Simian Mobile Disco? Did you ever toy with the idea of suffixing it with "Collective" (Simian Mobile Disco Collective), like a proper collective? Or does a duo count as a collective? I'm not sure now, to be honest. Sorry.”
A. As your friend Barry said, I don’t think duos/partnerships are usually regarded as collectives, really. The name was just something stupid we chose when we were in Simian and were doing a bit of DJing and remixing on the side. Then it just kind of stuck and it was too late to change it by the time we realised things were going pretty well. So we’re stuck with it. With hindsight maybe we should have chosen a hip austere techno name?
I told them I really like the name, Simian Mobile Disco, and that they shouldn’t be ashamed of it. It’s a better name – and more fun – than fucking Soul Clap or Masters at Work. I felt better for saying something positive, and SMD seemed to enjoy the compliment, too. The one with the big hair tapped the one with the glasses on his knee and smiled a proud, brotherly smile. At this point, a piercingly loud awooga honk sounded through the pub, and Simian Mobile Disco started to flicker and began to look like they were turning into 16bit pixelated computer game characters, as were the rest of the punters in the pub. I reached out to grab the jacket lapel of the one with the glasses and he turned into an almost liquidised, rainbow dust. He disappeared in a puff of colourful smoke. I looked at the one with the big hair and he just shrugged his shoulders and mimed chewing a piece of gum before dissolving into the floor in a grey-purple, T-1000ish blob, and it was a blob.
I bent down to pick up the blob and it exploded. It didn’t explode like a train bomb or a stick of Acme dynamite. It was more like a colourful nail bomb, but the nails were soft and squashy, like what you’d get splattered with from a Nerf gun. Brentford Barry’s top hat blasted off his head like a rocket and suddenly, the Northolt Wetherspoon’s fell down around me like a velvet curtain and I was sat at my kitchen table in front of my laptop, dangerously low on creative petrol and wanting to round this Simian Mobile Disco piece up as soon as possible so I can watch The Apprentice on catch-up before I get too tired to stay up. I copied and pasted the following from the Microsoft Word document Simian Mobile Disco’s publicist had replied with earlier that day:
Q. Stone cold sober or absolutely fucking terminated?
A. Moderation in all things.
Q. In about 2007, I shook the one with the big hair's hand at a tiny club in Shoreditch after you'd played 'A Bit Patchy'. Do you usually shake the hands of punters after you've played a big room banger?
A. Yet again, you were the very special exception. Truly, you have been blessed.
Q. Who does most of the work in the studio, and is there ever any professional jealousy involved? Any gossip or bitching you want to do? No fucker reads Ran$om Note, so you're fairly safe.
A. Jas: I do all the soldering. James: I read all the synth manuals.
Q. What's next for Simian Mobile Disco, after the push on this new album?
A. We have a brand new album recorded coming in 2018…can’t tell you much about it at this point, though.
Q. How often does the one with the big hair get his hair cut?
A. When it gets as ridiculous as this interview.
And with that, I went searching for relevant pictures and YouTube clips to illustrate the piece with before saving the document to my Tonka’s Week folder, attaching the document to an email to Wil, Cosmo and Alasdair at Ran$om Note and hitting (clicking on) Send.
Anthology: 10 Years Of SMD by Simian Mobile Disco is OUT NOW on Wichita Recordings. I’ve not walked over to their publicist’s office to collect my vinyl promo copy of it yet, but I’ve heard all of the songs before, and I can confirm that it’s a fucking brilliant album, so buy it. Here’s the link to BUY IT again.
Also OUT NOW by Simian Mobile Disco on Wichita Recordings is the 10th anniversary 2017 remaster of Attack Decay Sustain Release. It's also fucking brilliant. BUY Attack Decay Sustain Release (2017 Remaster) on this link here.
"Follow" Simian Mobile Disco on Twitter: @smdisco
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"Go on" the Simian Mobile Disco website: simianmobiledisco.co.uk