We caught up with Simon Franks from the Audio Bullys following the news that the electronic duo is back for 2017.
Rewind back to 2003 for a second and MTV is blasting a leary, thumping track with a hard looking kid walking about the streets of London. ‘We Don’t Care’ was our first introduction to the Audio Bullys with their in your face ‘Hooligan House‘ style, with the album ‘Ego War’ arguably one of the best electronic albums to come out of the early noughties. Simon Franks and Tom Dinsdale came into the scene from a post rave generation of jungle, dance and garage music, mixing everything up from house to hip hop. The Audio Bullys gained the most commercial success with ‘Shot You Down’ which sampled the original Nancy Sinatra track and reached number 3 on the UK charts in 2005. Taken from the album ‘Generation’ also released in 2005 which was then followed by ‘Higher Than The Eiffel’ released in 2010. In 2012, Tom Dinsdale announced he was leaving the Audio Bullys to focus on his own solo stuff, under his new alias Mineo. After the two got back together earlier in the year with ‘Original’, the Audio Bullys are now back in their original format.
We are very excited to hear the original Audio Bullys format is coming back, how did it come about and what can expect from this new ‘electronic’ chapter?
Thanks man! We are exited too, it feels like the right time after a 5 year break and you can expect some bangers! We can feel the old formulas coming back to us, they will be getting mixed up with some new ones to create some 2018 chemistry. As Kanye said “The vibe is back”.
What have you guys learnt and experienced during your solo stuff and who have you enjoyed working with the most?
I loved working with Tim liken, he was part of Double 99 the garage duo that brought us special request and a lot of great 90s tracks on ice cream records, he went on to become Tim Deluxe in the early noughties. We used to see him out an about on the road a lot and he gave up djing after passing out on the decks in Australia having drunk a bottle of vodka on the plane over. He told me he woke up in his hotel to loads of missed calls from the promoter asking him what the fuck happened. He could barely remember. He stopped touring and runs marathons now. I bumped into him at a Strictly Rhythm party at Dance Tunnels in Dalston and I said lets get in the lab again, so we did, an we ended up making a nostalgia 96 style garage record called ‘The Scene’, it’s coming out on Simma Black, Low Steppa from Rinse FM’s label 27th of Nov 2017.
Ego War in 2003 was arguably one of the most inspirational electronic albums of the noughties, how has your new sound evolved or remained the same to this?
Man that record was like the Graff writing, drug selling, ravers bible. It was like we wrapped up the whole of our lives in the 90s and early noughties in an album, you can only do that once. I’m hyped to say it stood the test of time an still lives on as a classic. For me that’s always the question, will the next generation find this shit, or will it float off down stream forever. The new tracks so far are shapin’ up very well, T’s back on the MPC 3000 again, which is brilliant to hear, it’s got a certain crunch to it. After a little break I’m starting to remember how we do it. I’m exited to hear and see what we do next, that’s the beauty of it, we just don’t know….. But… I do have a few good little ideas.
What were you guys doing before the Audio Bullys really took off?
Basically there were many different phases in the 20 years prior to ego war, if you listen to the album itself properly it should give you a good idea of a lot of it, but before all that it was skateboarding, that was my first true love before graff took over. Then raving which led to making tunes, first I made some garage white labels with a guy called Jess Jackson who lived on the estate (he lives in LA now and worked with Tyga for years) we got plays from EZ and all the pirates and in all the raves. My manager at the time George Lamb got me a Luck and Neat remix that needed turning round quickly, Jess went missing and Tom said he’d have a crack at it with me. We spent a whole day fuckin’ with it and got nowhere. I’d given up on it. 9 in the morning the next day, my door bell goes, it’s T again. I’m thinking nah this is done, and Toms like let’s have another crack, so I’m like alright, we gotta do it like this. Tom’s like yeah man, and we banged it out. A week later we were sitting looking out over the view on Richmond Hill listening to our remix blasting out of Tom’s VW Golf speakers on Kiss! Progress! I Love to hear our own b lines pumping on the radio.
We found a video of you guys playing in Amsterdam at Club Lek, back in April 2003, do you remember it?
I don’t. I’ll have to have a look for it. We played Holland a hell of a lot. As far as playing was concerned The Dam and Holland was where we did the most. I see Amsterdam as the Vegas of Europe. We had a lot fun fun times there.
“Back in the day a lunatic from Twickenham stopped a pal of mine in the street and said to him, “When you see me what do you see?” He replied I don’t know? After repeating the question a few times, the lunatic said “clobber, when you see me you see clobber”, apparently he wasn’t even dressed that well. But the spirit was there.”
Simon Franks, Audio Bullys
Where would you like to see the Audio Bullys going over the next few years?
On tour, to the moon, definitely Bognor. If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.
Which electronic artists, djs etc have inspired you both to do what you do?
Tuff jam, Todd Edwards, Masters at Work, Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Ant Hill Mob, New Horizons, MJ Cole, Armand Van Helden. Skream, John Tejada, Rr Dre, Giggs , Skepta, Potter Paper, Alfredo, Jimi Hendrix the innovator of this electric nonsense.
I could write a list all day there’s a few – Music is infinity.
There was a certain dress sense that came with the whole ‘hooligan house’ Audio Bullys vibe when you guys first came on the scene, what kind of labels and styles were you wearing?
Yeah, first there was Ralph, Lacoste, Armani and of course Stoney. Lots of Reebok. Then came Prada Sport, Fendi, D&G, Margiela and bare brands I can’t remember, we used to steal Ralph’s out of Richmond Dickens and Jones, it was so so easy, the whole town was kitted out in it. It was silly in the 90s from rackin it, and drug money, but when we got our deal it got ridiculous, we used to buy shit and never wear it. I think they call it a shopping addiction.
Graff’ has constantly been involved in Audio Bullys music and even the logo, were either of you previously involved in the scene?
Graff was our whole world along with partying from like 93 onwards, we formed a crew called GFS. Yeah it was train stations, track sides, street bombin’, it was relentless. I kind of quit in 97 and started makin’ tunes. With out graff there would be no Audio Bully’s period. We had a second wave in like 02, I was busy on tour but still got some good missions in. Could probably say that we painted most of the train yards in London.
Where can we catch you guys perform for the rest of 2017?
Your guess is as good as mine. But it will be somewhere soon, that’s for certain and it will be beautiful.
What DJ’in/Sampling kit would you say has been the most important for your live performances and production.
The Roland SH09, that was very staple in a lot of our productions. Korg Micro. MPC 3000. Vinyl samples and many a different plug ins.
Thanks for taking the time to talk about our mad skippy, trippy soundscape and thanks for supporting. Love to all until next time. Over and out.