Twenty-two years later Jack Dangers, the UK born/ Bay Area based musician best known as front person for the group Meat Beat Manifesto, is still recording and releasing relevant music. In addition to the recently released tenth studio Meat Beat Manifesto (MBM) album Autoimmune on Metropolis, Dangers has also just released a new solo project titled Music For Planetarium -- a limited edition release on Brainwashed. To help spread the word on both releases, Dangers and MBM (including Ben Stokes with whom he also collaborates under the name Tino Corp) just wrapped up their current US tour in the past couple of days. I caught up with them when they played the Highline Ballroom in New York about a week ago. The current MBM lineup includes Dangers, Ben Stokes, Mark Pistel and Lynn Farmer (on live drum kit set up).
Considering it is now 21 years since MBM's debut and 22 years since his original band, Perennial Divide, released their debut, and also considering that most other industrial or techno or ambient acts (all genres that Dangers' music has been labeled over the years) are no longer still making music, I asked Dangers what was the secret to MBM's and his longevity as an artist? "The main thing is not to conform, not to follow what looks like the thing to do," he said. "It is important not to follow trends but just to be yourself. That is the main ingredient."
I asked Dangers about early in his career and his relationship to Andy Partridge and how it was exactly that the XTC member had helped him get started in his music career. Dangers replied that he first met Partridge back in 1981 in the small South Western English town of Swindon they both hail from. "I got an intern job at the Uni recording studio (in Swindon) and got to see XTC rehearse for their English Settlement tour," he recalled, adding that the XTC tour got cut short after just nine dates. "Andy pretty much knocked it on the head and didn't want to do any live performances after that." But several years later, in 1986, Andy Partridge would work with Dangers and his first band Perennial Divide when he produced their Beehead EP -- released in 1987 on Sweat Box.
Dangers first visited the US in 1989 and ended up moving Stateside, settling in the Bay Area's Mill Valley in 1994. I asked him how relocating from Swindon to Marin County came about. "I was doing a lot of work with (Bay Area groups) Consolidated and Disposable Heroes of Hipocrisy in the early nineties," he recalled, adding that during that time period he, "Later met my future wife at SF Civic Center at a benefit for In Defense of Animals. And that was the main reason I moved over." He had also crossed paths with Ben Stokes, with whom he would forge a long-standing creative relationship. In concert, Stokes works his magic on the video sampling technology and when he is not on tour with Dangers, he is doing video production for DJ Shadow's tours (solo and with Cut Chemist).
Sampling spoken word and sounds (much of it from films, including the likes of Clockwork Orange) has always been an integral part of MBM's sonic makeup but in recent years, thanks to more accessible video sampling technology, the whole multi-media aspect of MBM's assault has become more prominent in the live setting. "I use a lot of spoken word samples on the early albums and I was able to go back and find them on video and incorporate them on this current tour. It's definitely a multi-media event," said Dangers of the current use of the original samples from many of Meat Beat's older recordings. He also noted that MBM use cameras a lot in their performances. Below is an excerpt from "Helter Skelter" during their show at El Rey in LA a few weeks ago.
As for the new MBM album Autoimmune (whose guests include Bay Area emcee/spoken word artist Azeem), Dangers said that it was originally intended to be a 2CD set but that he "shaved it down to one CD" to make it an even tighter sounding and more cohesive album. And as for the new (very ambient and soothing sounding) Jack Dangers solo CD, Music For Planetarium -- released by Brainwashed as part of their Handmade series -- Dangers noted that it is actually from a 1998 piece he performed and recorded for the T.I.T. Planetarium in Budapest, Hungary. Dangers also mentioned doing remixing for Tim "Love" Lee, among other future projects.
For more information, visit the official Meat Beat Manifesto website and/or their MySpace.