Calvin Bush gets the lowdown on the high spots with the Utah Saints.
Just who the. what the. why the hell are the Utah Saints?
‘lt‘s weird. When we played Chicago. the first time was with The Shatnen and the second time was with KMFDM ((‘lUSSlt‘ War Trax industrial dance hand). So sometimes we get lumped in with the industrial kind of thing and sometimes the techno thing. which also means something different in America. And it gets very hard because the categorisations get blurred so many times and the goalposts change all the time.‘ says Jez Utah.
But the real crazy thing is. Jez and Tim. like a couple ofgung-ho Maradonas high on House and that punk energy spirit. can‘t stop scoring. Beauties too. They may trot out the industry standards about only intending to shift ‘1000 records and everything after that is a bonus‘. but those bonuses seem to keep on swerving chartwards with arching elliptical grace.
Let‘s face it. Utah Saints are massively popular. They‘ve scored three consecutive Top Ten hits with ‘What Can You Do For Mc?‘. ‘Something Good‘ and Believe in Me‘. and chance will have absolutely nothing to do with the inevitable success of their Slayer-sampling fourth. ‘I Want You‘. It would be utterly fair to tag them probably Britain‘s first Stadium House Band — not only have they been playing to countless thousand Johnny Foreigners as a support act on U2‘s recent jaunt around the Continent. but theirs is a sound filled with ironic pomp and thundering bombast. ‘You want the best? You got the best.‘ screamed ‘What Can You Do‘.". exultant crowds tear through ‘Something Good‘. their recently released self-titled debut sounds like it was recorded in the searing heat of the Nuremberg rally and they even have the audacity to pump up Simple Minds’ ‘New Gold Dream‘ in a raw rawk/dance fashion. Before they even lift a sampler- aimcd finger. Utah Saints sound H-U-G-E.
‘lt‘sjust trying to make things exciting. really.‘ explains Jez down the phone from a service station pit stop on the way to the wide open stadia of. . . Barnstaple (ask Ordnance Survey). ‘lt‘s not so much trying to make it sound big as opposed to giving it a powerful sound and using a combination of powerful sounds.‘ This from a man who still [)Js the sounds of 70s disco and funk. ‘Yeah. but I grew up listening to metal and punk. AC/DC and The Stranglers. l was definitely into the attitude and energy of both those styles of music. Both those bands had a really powerful sound. And that‘s what I‘ll always be into. Power.‘
The unlikely pairing of Tim and Jez came about when they were both running different club nights in the same venue — Tim‘s spinning upfront House and Acid, Jez‘s opting for dance of the slinkier,
smoochier variety. And it‘s their wildly differing tastes in music that have helped shape the mercurial sounds ofthe genre-defying records that have made the Saints both humungously commercial yet consistently credible. This is a pair that make chalk and cheese seem like natural companions.
‘At the moment. Jez does all the writing. but I‘m in the studio all the time with him.‘ explains parincr Tim. who (fact fans) once reached the finals ofthe British DMC mixing championships. ‘So ifl think the track‘s getting too far off the beaten track. or too guitary. or too rocky. then I‘ll pull it back. And if it‘s going too Housey-Housey. Jez will go and whack a big guitar bit on it. That way we get a happy medium. And that‘s basically a Utah Saints record.‘
it‘s not actually that simple. In keeping with their philosophy that ‘sarnples free us from the confines of
i popular instruments‘. the pair's trademark has been their freestyle plundering of unlikely sources such as
Eurythmics for ‘What Can You‘. Kate Bush for ‘Something Good‘ and Phil ()akey. Sylvester and
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Crown Heights Affair for ‘Believe In Me‘. Yet the songs themselves barely register on the Jolly Green Giant meter (that‘s corny. folks) where so many of their contemporaries end up looking like moolah- fixated schemers supreme. Utah Saints plunder music‘s rich and varied lexicon and create their own instantly lovable if recognisable dance-fused Esperanto. Just how do they intend to translate their sound to the live forum?
‘Well. there‘ll be five of us up on stage. including Tim and myself.‘ explains Jez. ‘There‘ll be Tim on decks. me on sampler. a keyboard player also with a sampler. a percussionist with stuff like congas and timbales and a drummer with electronic pads linked up to a. . . you‘ll never guess.‘ Er. a banana”? ‘Ha! No. another sampler. And basicaily we‘ll just try and put a lot ofenergy into it.‘
Yup. ljust know that something good is going to happen. Well wonh. er. sampling.
Uta/i Saints play The Arr/it's, Glasgow mi Sun 20.
“ihé List 18 tuner July—l99S-23