This 1991 interview with Andrew Weatherall illustrates the late producer’s understated musical mastery…
“I have no desire to be in the limelight, I’m a lot happier staying in the backroom, keeping myself to myself.”
In 1991, Melody Maker journalist Push interviewed ‘the most sought-after remixing whiz-kid of the Nineties’ – an individual who would go on to paint an unmatched musical tapestry over the coming three decades: Andrew Weatherall.
Published in the 17 August 1991 edition, just a few weeks before the release of Primal Scream’s epoch-defining Screamadelica, the interview (reportedly his first) finds Weatherall in sanguine mood about the growing commercialisation of the music industry.
“I’ve tried to steer clear of as much music industry bullshit as possible because I don’t like the way the business works and I don’t like the sort of people who are involved,” he explains.
“Most of them might as well be selling double glazing. I’d rather go out with my mates or sit at home having a quiet smoke than worry about being seen in the right company or the right places, you know, lunching with A&R men and popping across to the New York Seminar.
“As far as I’m concerned, stuff like that is a load of old bollocks.”
On the acid house scene, he admits to being an unexpected convert – thanks to his association with longstanding Boy’s Own cohort Terry Farley.
“I first went to Shoom in order to shut Farley up,” he explains. “He’d been going on about it for ages, saying how the music was mad and it was full or football lads, Ibiza lads, and I just thought, ‘F*** off, it sounds terrible’.
“But as soon as I walked in I knew it was something special: the strobes and the smoke were on from start to finish and I had to keep touching people to make sure I wasn’t alone in there. I had a ball.”
Arguably the most fascinating part of the interview, however, revolves around his work with Primal Scream, who he had met a handful of times – “They used to sit in club corners looking winsome” – before being called upon to develop what would become Screamadelica, which was released in September 1991.
As author Push notes, what makes a track like Loaded all the more remarkable, is that it allegedly marked the first time Weatherall had set foot in a recording studio.
“Loaded worked because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I mean, all I really did was slip a beat underneath and let that great melody and those brass stabs do the rest,” says Weatherall.
“It was simple and direct and I knew it was a strong track, but I was completely knocked back by how well it did. I originally said I’d be happy if we managed to sell a thousand white labels.”
But as to whether his early 90s-era work should be considered a game changer, Weatherall is his humble, understated self.
“Yeah, people talk about Loaded breaking down barriers, but I don’t think barriers are ever broken down, they’re just moved somewhere else,” he says. “The saddest thing is the way the indie-dance scene is masquerading as some kind of youth rebellion. When I was 14 I wasn’t allowed a Sex Pistols record in the house and I remember my mum ripping my John Lydon poster down.
“Now you’ve got young Fred playing his latest indie tune, mum comes in and it’s, ‘Oh, this is a nice song, I could do the Hoovering to this’ and, ‘That’s a nice stripey top, you’ve got one like that haven’t you?’ Youth rebellion? Bollocks.”
The full interview, Andy Weatherall: Mixed Emotions, can be found on the Rock’s Back Pages website, by clicking here.
PS: Elsewhere, Twitter user Dorian Lynskey has compiled a Spotify playlist of the tracks that influenced Weatherall when he was producing Screamadelica, as told to BBC 6Music in 2011– essential listening. RIP Andrew Weatherall.