Down And Dirty
who hasnt heard of Dirty Vegas in the UK surely will be hearing
a lot of them in the coming month or so, as the trio release their widely
acclaimed eponymous debut album in August. Anyone who hasnt heard
of Dirty Vegas in the US however, has obviously either been walking
around wearing a balaclava made of cement, doesnt own a TV or
radio, or buy magazines or newspapers, or is out on day release from
the funny farm. DVs main man Steve Smith is
still a little stunned really
AD: First of all, congratulations on your fantastic album. Its
already been played to the point of saturation on the office CD player.
Really? Oh thanks a lot. Thats really nice to know. Weve
been really worrying about it, because its been so big in the
States, and we never really thought that English people and American
people would like the same thing. But we saw the first lot of reviews
on Sunday, and they were amazing. It was incredible the way the whole
thing took off in America though
AD: A lot of that success was down to a certain Mitsubishi Eclipse
advert wasnt it? How did that come about?
yeah, you could say that just SLIGHTLY helped! It happened
by complete accident. There was this guy from an advertising agency
who was in Holland when Days Go By was just taking off over
there. He heard it, loved it, and made a phone call asking to use it.
At first we thought No, this isnt really happening
someones playing a joke on us, because theres hundreds,
thousands of bands in America who have done it, and
AD: You still seem overawed by it all
SS: Oh, completely overawed by it. You know, we got back to England
and we were like Did that just happen? The last two months
have just been like a circus. I mean, we knew wed have a good
chance of getting somewhere because of the great video, but everythings
just built and built. First of all, we get this brilliant review in
Rolling Stone magazine, then the album goes to number seven in the US
charts, then Mobys management rings up and tells us that he wants
us to tour with him! To top it all off, we get a nomination for an MTV
AD: Hows the tour with Moby going?
SS: Its going really well. Moby came up to us after one gig
and said What do you think of my audience? and it was obvious
that people had gone out and bought the album, as you could see them
all mouthing the words and we got a great reception. It really was like
a double ticket for us, being fans of Moby going right back to Go.
Hes got a great band, and I was just standing there on the first
night, thinking This is where I want to be. That first night
was one of the best, because of the nerves and adrenaline, and everyone
the crew, the bands all got along so well. Its all
been very surreal I think since June 4th Ive only been
home for about four days. I keep fucking thinking of things in dollars;
my girlfriends been saying Will you PLEASE start talking
AD: Immediately after the success of that single, it is alleged that
you suffered a bit of writers block. What do you remember of that
SS: It wasnt really writers block, its just that
a lot of bands especially dance bands fall into problems
where they make one big hit single, get signed and rushed into making
an album and it all gets a bit samey. We were in danger of making Days
Go By part two, three and four. We had the producer saying No,
take it off in this direction. It came to the point where we just
said Look, for Gods sake, weve got an opportunity
to make an album that we really WANT to make, and craft it exactly how
we want to. We wanted to make an album with a start, middle and
end, about OUR experiences with no filler tracks and I think
thats what weve done. It was a bit heated at first
Paul was having a tough time, and Ben disappeared for about five days.
When we eventually got him on his mobile and asked him where he was,
he said Im on holiday! and we were like Oh great.
Thanks for letting us know! When he came back, you could cut the
atmosphere with a knife between him and me. Then when I was in Pasha,
Ben rang me up and said Er
I just mixed down Lost Not
theyre about me arent
they? And that really was the turning point. The music was really
tight on that track and the album just flowed from thereon. Even if
the album sells two copies, at least it something we can be proud of.
When we played it to the guy at the record company, he sat and listened
to his eyes closed, told us it surpassed anything hed expected
us to have been able to come out with, and then cancelled all his meetings
and took us down the pub!
AD: Youve toured all over the world. Any favourite stories?
SS: Weve had some great ones with the band. We seem to have
this kind of chemical reaction with Texas some mad thing always
seems to happen whenever we go there, and we always end up getting in
some kind of trouble. Paul managed to get ejected from a club on a Sunday
afternoon! We all went for a meal and then off to this club called The
Social. Next thing we know, this bouncers pulling Paul up by the
scruff of his neck and throwing him onto the grass outside. When we
asked why, the bouncer said I didnt like him. He was getting
too drunk to be here. Then while hes collapsed in a heap
on the grass, this armed policeman comes up to see what the problem
is and tells us to move it. So we got into a cab, which turned out to
have a mad taxi driver who just seemed like he wanted to have a fight,
saying things like Ive got better things to do than drive
around Texas on a Sunday afternoon. We said Ok mate, you
drive. Well walk on. It was all very odd.
AD: Though probably not as odd as the story on the news the other
day about Rolf Harriss accordion bursting into flames on stage
the other day. So, who would YOU like to fit with an inflammable accordion
SS: Inflammable? Or flammable?
they mean the same thing
SS: Do they? Oh well, there goes my South London education! I dont
Steps probably, not that Id ever want to hurt anyone.
Steps or Darius. Then again Darius does write his own stuff doesnt
he? Sod it, do it to Gareth Gates instead.
AD: You werent expecting that question were you?
SS: You could say that! You can imagine how many times weve
had (adopts American accent) So, which one of you guys got dirty
in Vegas then?
AD: Yeah I never ask about how bands got their names. Far too predictable,
and anyway you can find that out just by typing it in on the Internet.
SS: So you wont be asking who our influences are either then
AD: I wasnt going to, but feel free if you want to
SS: Well it probably gives you a clue as to where the album comes
from Ive always been a big fan of Neil Young, Bens
into Digweed and Sasha and all the other early dance pioneers and Pauls
influenced by heavy guitar riffs. The thing is, songs have been secondary
for too long in dance music, and we didnt want to do all the old
clichés. With a song like Ghosts, its all about
emotional baggage of relationships, and of the music business. Rolling
Stone called us the missing link between House music and the Stone
Roses, which was really flattering.
AD: If you were chosen to appear on Room 101, which three
things would you want to bin?
SS: A&R people from major record companies
.in fact, anyone
whos got a pop act on their label. Turin Brakes deserve
a medal for sticking to what they want to do. Secondly, guns. Its
getting like America over here I feel safer walking around in
New York than I do in South London nowadays! Anyway the crime seems
to have shifted from Manhattan and on to Brooklyn. Americas safer
than Britain now! And my third choice
AD: And if you were all caricatures of superheroes, who would you
SS: Well Id be the incredible hulk, because I can be a lot
like David Banner at times, and you wouldnt like me when Im
angry. Paul would be Spiderman, as he climbs walls when hes had
a few too many beers, and Ben would be Ice Man as hes just so
AD: Ok, to finish off, can you sum up what Dirty Vegas are about
in ten words?
SS: Three guys enjoying themselves, making music they want to make.
And if people like it, thats great. Thats all that matters
I could do with a new car!
Hmmm. Correct me if Im wrong, but given the restriction s of
my last question, Id say thats a bit of Steves South
London education coming through again. Unless of course the first sentence
was the answer
who cares anyway? Dirty Vegas have made a fine debut
album that is likely to gain legendary cult status in years to come.
Lets hope that they continue Throwing Shapes at us
for a little longer.
Interview and transcript by Tone E