Navigation (Winnipeg, Canada); issue no.1 November 1996
Inside the MidWest Hardcorps with Jethrox of the Drop Bass Network
YOU'RE GONNA GET DOWN,
GET DOWN AND PRAY"
Bass Network has made hard music a religion in the Midwest. Jethrox
gets us up to date on the Midwest Hardcorps and prepares us for
DBN came up to Winnipeg in early '94. At that time the crew of DJs
included Woody McBride and Hyperactive. How has the Drop Bass posse
evolved in the past two years?
Our posse has always gone through changes. It's mostly a matter
of what we're into at the time and whoever else is doing the same
thing. Back then we were all very involved in the rave scene. All
the people you mentioned were DJs DJing a lot. Also, me and Woody
were throwing many parties. We all also like hard techno for the
most part, so we had several common bonds. At
the time I had the money and the desire to start a label. Woody
was doing a lot of producing and Hyperactive was just starting to.
We wanted to push the Midwest vibe and that's where DBN records
came from. Since then our crew has evolved both on the label front
and on the party front. The label now supports mostly Scandinavian
artists. For some strange reason that's where most of the artists
are coming from. On the party scene we have worked hard to get a
dedicated crew and for the past two years our "support squad" has
been the working force that makes our parties go off. This crew
is mostly made up of people who I get along with and who want to
really help and be part of something good. So I suppose if I have
personal problems with people, which I often do, then the work force
changes. It's always around 20-25 people though.
Fred Fresh, Woody McBride and Hyperactive have all gone on to run
or oversee labels of their own since working with Drop Bass in the
early days. Is there something in your attitude/work ethic that
encourages those around you to prosper in their own right?
I think it's more a matter of people getting their start on
the local level and once the name is built it's usually a good idea
to move on to bigger and better things. DBN records is one person
(me) and there is only so much I can do and there is only so much
money that can be made at that level. If you really want to live
off of your music then other labels are where it's at, but I'm content
at this level. I think my attitude is good, though. Very casual
and honest, not always on time but good effort is made. This atmosphere
gives artists a good feeling about the business end of music and
I suppose it is encouraging in that way and would make someone happy
to be doing what they are doing.
Your yearly Furthur parties have become legendary in the Midwest
(and have attracted attention from overseas as well). What was the
inspiration for the first Furthur, and how much bigger do you think
it can get?
Me and Dave Prince had always talked about a Furthur type thing
since way back. Hooking up with Woody was what pushed it over the
edge. He really likes to try new things, sometimes I'm too skeptical.
The three of us decided it was time. Dave was the press guy who
made it known to everyone that the event was happening. He had lots
of connections from his Reactor days. Woody got most of the talent
for that first one. He went a little overboard, but in retrospect
that huge lineup made the party a for real one. I handled getting
the space, sound, tents, bathrooms etc. - all the technical stuff.
Most of the workers were my crew. We lost a shitload that first
weekend but fuck, we had the Aphex Twin! That the shit. It was worth
every cent. We lost on that one, but at the time the rest of our
events were going quite well so we just considered it an investment
in our reputations. Most of the inspiration for that event and for
many of my parties after '93 was the book "Electric Koolaid Acid
Test" (ed. note: by Thomas Wolfe. Check it out.) I read that over
the winter of '92 and was like "fuck, this is what I want. This
is how it should be. A big fuckin' acid party all the time!" I think
Furthur is going to continue growing. We can take it to whatever
level we want, I suppose. Last year was a tremendous success. We
had almost 4000 people for four straight days for one hell of a
party. I can honestly say I have never experienced vibe like that.
People started going off late Friday night and didn't come down
until Monday morning. Shit, and I helped create that. Very intense
indeed. It makes me feel real great about what I've chosen to do
with my life. This year we want to get some big names at the event.
Last year Daft Punk stole the show. They weren't well known, but
after Saturday night they'll never be forgotten. I'd like to see
the Aphex Twin come back and I'd like the Chemical Brothers to do
a PA. They are so big though now, but they are still the noisiest
scary techno act that almost everyone likes. I'd like to push more
of the live guitar music this year also. Some good metal and maybe
more noise. I think we can get in the neighborhood of 8000 people
this year if we do it right, but I'd rather leave Furthur more underground
and get another festival going for the fall that could sell out
"Techno-Pagan Ritual" is a term that shows up on the Furthur flyers,
and the theme seems to apply itself very well to these events. Do
you find that as technology becomes more and more advanced it becomes
increasingly important for people to break from it and embrace a
more communal society (even if it's only for a couple of days a
I like the whole idea of community on the rainbow hippie sort of
level. Hippies are just fuckin' dirty though, and not all together
for my tastes. I like materialism and I love technology. That's
why I think things like raves are so important. It looks to the
future by using methods of the past. Dancing to the rhythm is a
great way to celebrate life and find out things about yourself and
the world around you. The people, for the most part, are great and
there is that sense that this is ours and these people are all on
the same page. Throw in what's here and now and what is coming in
the future and I think there is a well rounded means of getting
inside yourself and trying to understand the big picture. I've always
wanted to get a farm and do the Ken Kesey thing (like the acid test).
This way those two days could be year round. It will happen, but
now is not the time. I give it another year or two.
With the obvious exception of Richard Devine (Atlanta) all the Drop
Bass artist I can think of come from areas of the world with hostile
climates (read: cold, snowy/rainy... Sweden, Finland, Wales, Denmark,
Switzerland). Would you say that's coincidence or is there an odd
effect that harsh weather has on the human psyche?
I don't know. I don't think so. I mean, I hate fuckin' winter
and the cold, but sometimes I'll be working outside or something
and I get this idea that I'm some kind of warrior or something because
I survive it and it makes me kind of like this place. I don't think
I'd want to live where there aren't these extreme seasonal changes.
The seasons give phase to my life and what I do. I need it so I
know where I'm at and what I should be doing. I don't really feel
like the harshness of the weather gets me in any hostile mode. The
world is 'fucking hostile' and I think that's enough. There's hardheads
wherever you look. Christ, it never snows in the middle east and
look at those crazy car bombing mother fuckers!
Lastly, what are some of the plans that Drop Bass has for the future?
To keep pushing the line out farther and farther as to what
people think extreme is. We don't do house parties and we don't
play pussy music. If we get noisier then noisier will be more accepted.
If our parties get scarier then hell will be more accepted. Until
one day when we're all burning in a mass drug orgy of noise. Sounds
like a blast to me! For now I'm concentrating on parties more and
taking the label slower. The label reputation is there and there
is no need to push it too much. I'm looking for a bit of a different
sound at the moment and once I know it I'll move with it. Parties
suck pretty much though, these days and a lot of kids are losing
sight of what this shit is all about. We need good events to get
everyone back on track. I want to help with that.
What labels/artists are you watching and who would you like to see
release on DBN (or Six-Sixty-Six) in the next year?
I'm not so label specific. I but it if it's noisy or hard. I
really like the solid drum tracks (like Cold Rush #9). Some of the
better labels are Rephlex, Network 23, Brutal Chud, Explore-Toi,
Crapshoot, Napalm, Praxis, DHR, 666, Hot Trax... the list goes on.
There are so many small labels from Europe with a couple of releases
that are great. I get a lot of promos in the mail that I just can't
believe. Right now I'm very into jungle. Not all of it, just mainly
the stuff they call tech-step, the dark sinister shit (ie: No U-Turn
records). I also like the breakcore stuff of Alec Empire and Christoph
de Babalon. They call it 'riot sounds' and I can see why.. it's
rough. Alec and Christoph are artists I'd like to work with, I'm
starting a new label called Ghetto Safari for this kind of thing.
Laurent Ho, Choose and Speedfreak are doing some great things for
666. Chris Sattinger makes great music and I'd like to release with
hime. I got so many demos (too many) at the moment so I'm not too
sure who will be in the future for DBN.