Atomic Hooligan: Sex, drugs & breakbeat, NY style

The UK lads caught the attention of the worldwide breaks scene with their dancefloor bangers from their You are Here debut, and this year Atomic Hooligan returned to the public consciousness in a rather rockin’ way in 2008. The breakbeats were intact on the new album, but they come with an increased rock n’ roll focus that was reflected in the album’s title of Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah. The recording of the album saw them spread their wings and take on more of a musical influence.

“We had a lot of vocals on the last album, but with this one I think we have actual songs rather than tracks with vocals, which we are happy about. And this album is defiantly more musical, like for instance, before we would have sampled strings and brass, but we bought people in to play.” With Atomic Hooligan returning to Australia for a series of DJ gigs over the New Year period, ITM finds out what’s in store.

Hi guys, hope you’re well! This year has been a big one for Atomic Hooligan with the release of your new album. Tell us a little bit about it.

It’s been a great ear for touring, album release year always is. We have done some great shows with live and DJing. Some of the best ones have been Glastonbury, Shambahlaa in Canada, the Glade Festival and a few DJ shows in Kazakstan. It’s been a lot of fun this year.

Looking at your new album Sex Drugs and Blah Blah Blah, that’s certainly a ‘different’ title for an album, what were you trying to convey with it?

We just wanted to get across that we were sick of people, mostly DJs, desperate to live a rock and roll lifestyle. This a lot of the time means that there’s more focus on style and less on content. So many people now just want to reap the rewards without doing the work. That’s really what the title is about, but also just fake celebrity. We get bombarded with it in the UK. Listen to Blah Blah Blah on the album and it will explain a bit more.

The musical focus on the album had certainly evolved form your debut, how did you guys approach the production of Sex Drugs? Were you initially eager to fashion a different sound, or was that just how it panned out?

We wanted a more musical album this time. With more songs instead of tracks with vocals. But we didn’t want to do the typical thing of dance music producers trying to make pop songs. Yeah they songs may sound a bit more pop than before, but we didn’t want to be those guys that are desperate to cross over. We love the underground and that’s how we wanted the album to sound, but with more substance.

Did the use of live instrumentation bring its own challenges?

Yeah, for sure. Logisticaly it’s a lot harder. Live instruments have to be recorded very pro, or there’s no point. It’s a different world to sitting in a studio with a computer and keyboards.

So, in the three year gap between You Are Here and Sex Drugs and Blah Blah Blah, what did you guys get up to exactly?

A lot of live touring, we toured You Are Here for the whole time between albums. We also signed to a label in Japan, so we were out there a lot of touring and promoting the album. We were also recording Sex Drugs the whole time. But we never stopped. I DJ every weekend, Mat is always in the studio. I also built my label Menu Music in that time with Jay Cunning. We don’t take breaks, we make them… heheheh

What do you see as your main strengths as a producers?

We have our own sound. That’s all I can say, whatever we do, I hope that everyone can tell instantly that it’s us. That’s something we have always been proud of, for better or worse.

For those that haven’t witnessed the wicked live show, tell us a little bit about what’s involved?

Its big, 9 people. Live drums, live guitar, live bass, three vocalists, decks, samplers…. no computers. It’s a big, real live show. We fill any stage we have played. Usually overflow the stage, heheh. Check it out on YouTube. There are loads of clips up there for you to check out.

And what will you be bringing with you when you tour Australia, the live show or a DJ set?

Its going to be a DJ set, but it will still be big and powerful. Loads of energy. I will never DJ without enthusiasm and energy

Looking back for a moment, how did the Hooligans originally form the team?

We were in jail together for about 6 years. We used to use spoons to tap out breakbeats on the sink, toilet and bunk beads. Then when we were released, we fenced all the diamonds we had stashed and got our studio and CDJs. Then our parole officer moonlighted as a booker for Fabric, the rest is history…

Who or what influenced you guys towards crafting the stuff that you do today?

Underworld and Chemical brothers. But also Public Enemy and Tribe Called Quest. They are our gods. But we are influenced by new things every day. Mat listens to a lot of radio, and I’m a big blog man. So we got pushed all the time.

Where to now for Atomic Hooligan? New tracks? New album ideas? Collaborations?

We are going to record a mini album for download, we already have a few tracks that I will be playing on the tour. We have a three-man electric live show in the making that will debut early 2009. We have a couple bootlegs doing the round right now which are going well. But just keep an eye on our website for more details on everything. We never stop!

Catch Atomic Hooligan at the following shows across the country…

18th Dec – Supercharged, Byron Bay

26th Dec – Breakfest, Perth

27th Dec – Espy, Melbourne

28th Dec – Summer Break, Adelaide

1 Jan – Ministry of Sound NYD, Sydney