the ijamming! interview:
UNDERWORLD
KARL HYDE
talks with TONY FLETCHER page 4

-I should read this as I wrote this: "As people who seem more motivated by the distribution of your art than profiting from it, I'm interested how you view the free distribution other people have set up, specifically the swapping of music files and MP3s. You certainly give away many MP3s on your web site. To what extent does it bother you that people might be getting your new single online and not buying it? Do you need their money? Is it more important they get the music? Or do you believe that real fans will always want the finished album?"

I do believe that fans will always want the finished album. . .That's what the say on the Forums at dirty.org, and if that's true, then it's cool if people download it and then want to go out and buy the quality product. Because MP3s are shite and Rick works really hard to make a beautiful sounding thing – and I think people deserve something that sounds good.

This is just me, but if people offer me freebies at a label, I've got the money to say No, I'll go out and buy it. 'Cos I want the artist to get the money. If someone suggests something to me I will go out and buy it. If someone burns me a CD-R, I will go out and buy it. That's just me. What I think about people giving away our music – if they don't mind me going into the house and taking their computer or their car, I think that's a fair swap. Because that's how I feed my kids, that's how I look after my children, that's what I do. If people don't mind doing that and I take their pay packet at the end of the week and give them back five dollars. . .

-But if someone burns me a live Underworld CD that they've taken from your web site?

That's fine because we gave them away.

-And if someone else says, I smuggled a recorder into an Underworld show, and I burnt you a CD.

I don't give a monkeys. Because we're different every night. In fact we've asked for bootlegs at times. We'll phone up Scott who runs the dirty site, and say 'what's the hot bootleg at the moment?' and he'll say 'There's one from a club in Munich. There's a great version of King of Snake.' And we'll say 'Really, can you get hold of it for us because we'd like to hear what it was we were doing that night.' It's not like you can say 'Here's the recording of the 2002 tour and it's the same every night, and (this version of this song) has screwed up the live album.' It hasn’t screwed up the live album, you just happened to record it in Chicago. In New York, we were rocking! And in Glasgow, we did this fantastic version of Rez to die for!' So I don't have a problem with that.

Karl Hyde on Getting Paid:

"In the past, the hunter gatherers would look after the artist because they were an important part of the community. If I could walk into Tesco's and show my card that said 'artist' and they said 'No worry Mr. Hyde, here's your shopping trolley, just fill it up and go the fast track through the revered artists section,' then great."

Photo © Tony Fletcher

-If someone was to say 'I was asking what Underworld was about and someone burned me a CD of their music, but I didn't really like it so I didn't go out and buy it. . .'?

I don't really have a problem with one to one stuff. We've all done that as kids. And again to be honest, when people have burned me a compilation, I'll say 'that one was really interesting, what was it? It was quite obscure, let me find the web site or the label and buy it direct.' I'm a big browser of records.

In the west we live in a society that doesn't respect and look after the artist. In some other societies, and particularly in the past, for example, the hunter gatherers would look after the artist because they were an important part of the community. If we lived in a society that was like then, cool, but we don't. We live in a society that demands I pay my kids' school fees, that the car needs servicing and the roof leaks. And I have to pay money down Tesco's to feed my kid. If I could walk into Tesco's and show my card that said 'artist' and they said 'No worry Mr. Hyde, here's your shopping trolley, just fill it up and go the fast track through the revered artists section,' then great.

-I do think that Underworld have an audience that wants the packaging, the experience. But equally I can spend time, as I did last night, on your web site, downloading free movies and live music. I love that a band says 'You like us enough to have bought music and come to visit us at our web site…'

…So have something for free. And that's helped me enormously, too. I am a person who does need contact, I'm a person who does need to cut through the red tape, the system. And what we're doing now is a very important system and it takes a long time to work it up and do press and promotion, I'm absolutely okay with that… But there's things we like to do that are immediate.

Johnny Warwicker and I are working on a follow up to the Skyscraper book, and I want that to be a book you can feel and touch, and that will cost a bit of money and I want to sell that in book shops. But in the meantime, my attitude is, Here's some stuff that's really beautiful and it’s kind of got that Andy Warhol thing whereby, you made it, put it out. Put it all out. I want to do it now, I want contact now, so I'll go back to my hotel room tonight and publish a book and put it up on the Internet.

-That's how I feel about my web site. I did the Keith Moon book that's like my War & Peace, and which needs to sit on the shelves . . .

The only reason I didn't buy that book was because I bought Full Moon all those years ago. For me, I think early on in recovery I didn't want to revisit those places. I really got it in my head that I'd worked out my debt, I was going to die in a cheesy hotel room covered in cat's piss, and that's where they were going to find me, in the middle of nowhere in a rusty old car, and I thought there was absolute glory in that. I don't think that any more!

-You may have needed a space. A lot of people who've been through recovery have written to tell me that the book took them some dark places. What I was saying though was that my book has to be out there, but then I love to be able to publish daily on my web site. I find I need the contact to give back and put out. It's one thing going away – you make an album, I write a book – but you do get lonely. I need that contact.

Exactly right.

-Going back to the live show. I've seen a couple of quotes about 'replicating the sound of the studio better on stage.' As a fan of the Underworld live show, I'm nervous about that. I love that it's not replicated.

What tends to happen is that Rick nearly always puts too much into the sound. It's usually then conversations between Steve (Hall) and Rick and myself. We'll say 'Rick, it's great that it doesn't sound like the album.' And as ever, he's doing it no different to the way he's done all of the shows. We've said, 'Why are you putting so much detail on this? There's 40 hi hats on this track and you know we're only going to use two of them.'

-But this is your quote, presumably about your stage designers: "They've been coming up with a lot of new things. The possibilities have expanded enormously since we last went out. They've been working on things that are quite remarkable.' I'm thinking we've seen lasers, we've seen holograms, what are you talking about? Flying pigs?

You've sussed me! We've been rumbled.

-What is there that's that remarkable?

There were some things that Tomato Interactive have been working on. They came out to Japan and demonstrated some stuff. But to be honest it's 50-50 right now. Because it's such early days. What they showed and proposed on a test bed was amazing - all kinds of things to do with live interactivity. But if I can't go out there and be completely spontaneous, I'm not interested. It can be the most remarkable thing in the world, but if it requires me to choreograph a dance step, or to wear or do things that hinder my immediate response to the music, chuck it out the window, I don't care. They know that right now. So the ball is back in their court: think about this again, watch the DVD, believe that I will jump and down and smash anything that is getting in my way…

Karl Hyde on Underworld Mk. 3:

"One of the nice things about Darren leaving is that Rick and I don't have to think about what we're wearing. If we want it to be Underworld, or want it to be Tomato, or to be Rick, or Karl, or Rick and Karl, we're happy. As long as we keep making work, we can use it for anything."

-I've seen the group enough to know how the three of you worked together. Is the absence of Darren going to affect the pressure you feel on stage in terms of there not being another pair of hands even to work the faders?

No. It hasn't affected us at all. Because we went out and did shows with just the two of us and it was so much easier. And we could move much quicker and more fluid. In truth, Rick was doing pretty much all that was going on up there anyway, and I was doing all the stuff you could see me doing, and Darren was a fantastic vibe on stage. But because we've changed the desk now, and you can do snapshots, perhaps the one extra pair of hands (Rick) doesn't need any more. Though he has invited me in - he's given me a few channels to mess with if I want to.

-I found Change The Weather last night. And what really hit me was not how bad you sounded back then, but how bad you looked!

Oh yeah! Ooh!

-Though in fairness, I could hear hints as to how you and Rick were maybe trying to get away from the sound that was so dominant back then – INXS, Tears For Fears and New Order.

The big pity about that band – and it was my fault, really – is that Rick and I did all the tracks together and we should have left it at that. And then I insisted that we bring the live musicians in, and replace the electronics with bass players and drummers, and that was a big mistake.

-How much time do you get for Tomato right now?

None, really. Except for the fact that Rick and I are Tomato as well, so all the stuff we do on the Internet is just as much tomato as anything. Tomato are making another book so I picked up some really cool lo fi cameras in Japan. The new book is going to be a jam between all of us, thank God – I've been pushing for that for ten years. One of the nice things about Darren leaving is that Rick and I don't have to think about what we're wearing. If we want it to be Underworld, or want it to be Tomato, or to be Rick, or Karl, or Rick and Karl, we're happy. As long as we keep making work, we can use it for anything. On Friday I'm shooting a video with Graham Wood from Tomato - because Tomato has an office here in NY now. Graham has just shown me his new book, which is beautiful. You never know where a conversation is going to turn into a piece of work.

- There was a point where you were trying to do the live shows as weekend work. Even if it was just good PR, I liked it as PR, it was presented as 'we have the day job with Tomato and Darren's a DJ, and so we're just going to go out and tour at weekends for the next few months.'

There was a period of weekends. Then we discovered that it took longer to tour weekends than it did during the work day.

-Were you going in to Tomato during the work days?

I probably was. But then again I only ever worked as a fine artist. The commercial stuff was (making) music and the rest of it was just making stuff that we wanted to make. That's what I do like about Tomato, that all of them will make stuff regardless of it being a paying job. They are really a bunch of fine artists, even though some of them don't realize it and they happen to do very well doing commercial work.

-I do like that there's that visual side you just put out there. Even on the web site, you have the abandoned cars.

It's the details again. That's the details.

-You can always put out a book of abandoned car photos.

We're going to do the sofa book. 365 sofas – I've been talking to Tomato about that. I really want to do it. So we'll do it.

-Don't worry, I believe you.

THE END


UNDERWORLD LIVE PHOTOS FROM HAMMERSTEIN BALLROOM, NYC, OCTOBER 18 2002, HERE
live review from the same concert is here

ijammng! home is HERE ((plenty to interest Underworld fans)

For Underworld tour dates, click here
For Underworld news, click here
Underworld live MP3s and imagery here
Tomato Interactive is here
The Skyscraper I Love You book is here
The abandoned car photos are here
DirtyRadio is here

UNDERWORLD INTERVIEW PAGE 1 2 3 4

TOP
HOME


To receive occasional updates on new iJamming! content, send a blank e-mail to listserve@ijamming.net
iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2002