Matters of State (3)
7 magazine article, 8 December 1999


"We don’t feel comfortable with the idea now," adds Graham. "Because everybody else is doing it. When we used a guest vocalist, it always happened in a natural way. It was never about, let’s get a pop star in."

Given the extravagant live shows, the credible albums and the indie-esque collaborations, do 808 feel under pressure to compete with those who have taken over that mantle – The Chemicals, Orbital, Leftfield and Underworld? "We’ve already been where they are now," says Graham, "and I think people forget that."

"We know that we have the quality to be back there," says Darren. "And that’s why we’re not arsed. Also, we can piss on anyone when it comes to playing live."

"It was frustrating when we did Don Solaris," says Graham. "We were really pleased with it artistically, but it didn’t take off in a big way. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want the band to be on the same level as Leftfield."

How that spans out depends on their forthcoming material. Darren argues it’s the best thing they’ve done. Graham reckons it’s all in the choosing. "We’ve got so much stuff in various compartments," he says. "So it depends on whether it will be a mix of different things or of a similar style. I can say, though, a lot of it is more electronica based. We’ve also done a bunch of club stuff when we’ve worked in that frame of mind."

Darren nicely sums up 808 as "posh dance music", while Graham is wary of the experimental tag. He sees it as a red herring and argues what really counts is the durability of the music. But given that 808 are neither built for hip-swivelling fun or chin-stroking seriousness, where on earth do they fit? "That’s the odd thing about us," laughs Graham. "We’re neither extreme nor particularly poppy. For me it isn’t about how way out you can be or how much you can dumb it down. It has to mean something to us as well as connecting with other people. People put the experimental label on us, but we’ve never perceived it as that."

Consciousness. As well as the robust Invader single, 808 State are planning a regular club night in Manchester with the aim of replicating the quality and quantity of the old Bugged Out! nights. "It’s a problem people thinking we’re not around," says Darren. "We’ve been quiet. We haven’t been on the radio or on the road. But I think with us now it’s not enough just to sit down and criticise the dance scene. Its time to do something about it."<<

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