“I’m what you might describe as the classic underachiever. I tread that fine line between
boffin-dom and the grand amateur.”- Andrew Weatherall, 1997.
Andrew Weatherall has always been good for a quote. From the deep, dark days of early acid house to the modern-day Two Lone Swordsmen: if you’re looking for an opinion on the largely insipid world of dance music then Andrew’s always had that happy knack of cutting straight to the chase; delighting and upsetting in roughly equal measures.
The swaggering original moody DJ. The pop-star producer. Bastion of the underground. One-time (ahem) Balearic figure-head. Electronic experimentalist. Peerless explorer of the minimal techno sound. Arch grumbler. Londoner. Honorary Yorkshireman. All these notions have been bandied about by punters and critics alike in a bid to pin down Weatherall’s role in music, yet none of them quite fit the bill. And even when they do hit the mark they’re often far too paradoxical to make much sense. In the dull as ditch-water world of dance music, Andrew Weatherall comes across as a refreshing and involving character. This has always been reflected in his musical output since those formative days remixing Primal Scream’s rocky original into the pivotal ‘Loaded’.
Weatherall’s history goes back far to the beginning of the British acid house scene, having swung gigs for himself at Danny Rampling’s legendary Shoom night. Subsequently, his connections with the original Boys Own record label (and fanzine) led to artist releases, remixes and a string of legendary London clubs such as Blood Sugar, Circulation and of course Sabresonic (where the fledgling David Holmes cut his teeth). It was through Primal Scream though that Andrew first made his name. As the producer of Screamadelica he took The Primals, twisted them (best not to ask how) and in turn created the hybrid of narcotically-challenged rock and acid house now seen as a generation-defining release.
It was through the club Sabresonic and Andrew’s remix productions that he tied in with Jagz and Burns, forming the live/studio Sabres of Paradise band. More often than not shows would see Andrew standing at the side of the stage, possibly doing fuck all other than smoking fags; no one was quite sure. What is certain is that these experiences drew Andrew away from the Screamadelica-inspired limelight that beckoned and back into the sub-terrain to develop the dark, experimental sounds he has become known and respected for. After the demise of Sabres (and the record label inspired by the outfit) following a string of albums and singles (on Warp), Andrew teamed up with fellow Sabres cohort Keith Tenniswood to form Two Lone Swordsmen. Keith himself has a string of prior musical convictions working with The Aloof, David Holmes and Red Snapper. More recently he has made really fucked electro breaks to wrong-foot the dance-floor under the name Radioactive Man. Keith’s ear for the production of low-end frequencies is unrivalled.
Quietly toiling away in their Rotter’s Club studio the pair honed their own brand of lo-fi emissions, delighting experimentalists whilst frustrating the folk waiting for Andrew to stop being up his own arse and knock out more of those dubby Balearic tracks he initially made his name with. Thankfully this never happened. Instead, Fifth Mission – Return to the Flightpath Estate was released: a sprawling, dense double-CD soundtrack lurching between leftfield dance-floor and your fucked head, all shot through with an alarming disregard for genre or expectation. As if to confound admirers further, Andrew also made deep-house releases as Lino Square, Rude Solo and a whole host of yet to be discovered pseudonyms. After a couple more releases on his own Emissions label Andrew and Two Lone Swordsmen re-signed to Warp and became quietly prolific with a string of releases such as ‘Sticky/ Gay Spunk’, ‘A Virus With Shoes’ and ‘A Bag of Blue Sparks’. He then went back to Primal Scream taking the track ‘Stuka’ and re-writing it as a supremely morbid piece of reggae-heavy electro. Next there was the second TLS album ‘Stay Down’, its title as revealing as it was succinct. The third album ‘Tiny Reminders’ and then a fourth ‘Further Reminders’ were the platforms on which Andrew [and Keith] threw the cat amongst the pigeons, making music with machines like no one else. In 2004 they delivered ‘From The Double Gone Chapel’, their final release on Warp.
All the while Andrew has been maintaining his output through various alternative projects, most notably his first EP under his own name: ‘The Bullet Catcher’s Apprentice’ released in September 2006 on Rotters Golf Club. His mix CDs continue to impress: from his heavenly offering with Richard Fearless to his formidable Fabric Mix and the hard to find rock ‘n’ roll mixes recorded at his London residency with Ivan Smagghe, aptly titled Wrong Meeting. Other offerings consist of a rockabilly-based compilation for Soma, the first under their Sci.Fi.Lo.Fi branding, and the genre-spanning Watch The Ride on Harmless Recordings.
After a three year hiatus 2007 saw not one, but two new albums by Two Lone Swordsmen: Wrong Meeting (a limited edition vinyl box set) and Wrong Meeting II. These extended the rock ’n’ roll influence evident on Double Gone Chapel – displaying a base of electronica with layers of garage and rockabilly styling. Andrew is also a prolific remixer and recent outings include Noel Gallagher, Julian Cope and Atari Teenage Riot. He produced the highly acclaimed album Tarot Sport by Fuck Buttons, mixed tracks on the debut album by Warpaint for Rough Trade and produced four tracks for Pete Molinari’s ‘Theosophy’ album, released June 2014.
2008 witnessed the collaboration between Andrew and The Boardroom – a group of dapper men about town who spend their leisure hours producing aural delights for fans of electronically-informed dance-floor beats. Mr. Weatherall dropped in and, inspired by the tunes he heard, twiddled a knob or two alongside the Boardroom’s resident guru Steve Boardman and came up with the ‘Andrew Weatherall Vs. The Boardroom’ album. Mr. W enjoyed himself so much he invited Mr. B to collaborate on his debut solo album ‘A Pox on the Pioneers’ and a second instalment of Vs. The Boardroom, both released in 2009.
Andrew has DJed with Primal Scream on tour since 2010 and this collaboration continued into 2014. In between DJing all over the world Andrew also finds time to run the bimonthly A Love From Outer Space night at The Berkeley Suite in Glasgow with Sean Johnston (Hardway Bros). ALFOS is an all night party set that started as a tiny London residency but has now found its home at festivals and clubs worldwide. In 2012, Ministry of Sound released a triple CD album from Andrew as part of their ‘Masterpiece’ series, this was a DJ mix based on the ALFOS concept of great tunes which never exceed 120bpm. February 2013 saw Andrew release an acclaimed new album, ‘Ruled by Passion, Destroyed by Lust’, under the name The Asphodells (with Timothy J Fairplay, ex-Battant). This was followed by ‘Remixed’ which includes reworkings of tracks from ‘Ruled By Passion…’ by the likes of Baldelli & Rocca, Justin Robertson and Daniel Avery. September 2013 saw the release of ‘Another Perfect Life’ a co-write with Moby. Additionally, Andrew composed music which was released with Michael Smith’s book ‘Unreal City’. Faber published a special edition containing the book, a CD of Andrew’s tracks and a remix 10”. Additionally Andrew became Faber’s first ever Artist in Residence, and has worked on a variety of projects with them. Since 2013 Andrew has curated a two-day festival at a medieval castle in Carcassone and this year’s third edition will doubtless feature an eclectic selection of obscure and underground music handpicked by the man himself.
Brace yourself as one of the UK’s few remaining innovators stays uniquely true to his own musical vision when all around him are going soft or running out of things to say.