One last ur
After 17 years together ORBITAL are finally calling it a day, and have chosen the fields of Balado as the venue for their final live show. James Smart finds out from Phil Hartnoll about the past, present and future of the techno pioneers.
How are things going? Are you stuck in a room doing phone calls? Yeah. I‘m in a pokey little room with no light and no water [chuckles]. Naah. I'm out in the garden. drinking my glass of juice that my friend Mandy made for me. That doesn’t sound too bad. I’m sure everyone’s been asking you about the end of Orbital. When did you make that decision?
Probably about a year and a half ago. My brother [Paul] decided he wanted to go off travelling for about a year. And at that time it looked like we were all going off and doing our own thing. So we thought. OK, let's knock off a COuple of tracks. We had lots of bits and pieces that we had in the studio that we hadn‘t actually finished but we didn‘t know where we were going as a band. So we finally said. ‘This is the end. and let's do a couple of tracks to finish up.‘ He was going to go to Australia but he didn't take into account that if it was our summer it would actually be their winter. So we had a bit more time and ended up making an LP. which was fantastic; it felt like we were on borrowed time. We both knew it was the last time we were going to be doing it together and that added a nice feeling - it wasn't sad or anything. it was more like a rejoicing. I suppose. So it's turned into a nice way of going out. having a few gigs and having an album that feels a little bit retrospective. It feels like it‘s gone full circle. to me.
There’s certainly lots on the album that’s very reminiscent of your early work.
Definitely. that's what we thought. The atmosphere helped Create that and we didn't have a record deal so it was more like the early days. You're just doing music. aren't you? It seemed freer. somehow.
16 THE LIST 24 Jun—8 Jul 2004
It feels quite orchestral too. I guess you’ve always made dance music that goes against the clichés of dance music.
Yeah. I guess one side of that is that it doesn't really work on the dance floor. which has never really been important to us. Obviously it's influenced by music from those sorts of areas. from rhythm-driven machines and music. But we like all sorts and all those influences have really blurred into one.
The last UK date is T in the Park, right?
Well. Glastonbury was going to be the last show but we got offered a couple of others at the last minute — T in the Park and the Oxygen festival in Ireland. and just thought why not? Being the last shows we really want to enjoy them. not that we haven't wanted to enjoy live dates before. But it's a good way to go out; it leaves you with a nice contented feeling.
Would you consider reforming ten years down the line for the nostalgia market?
Yeah. definitely [laughs]. Do it with the Prodigy and Underworld and the Chemical Brothers. That would be great.
Techno often gets a reputation for being esoteric, but you’ve always done fun things too, like slipping Bon Jovi and Belinda Carlisle into your gigs. When did that idea first come to you?
We were working on ‘Halcyon' for a live set. sitting in a cafe and Belinda Carlisle came on and we thought. ‘God. you know what. that's going to work.‘ And then our tour manager said. 'Did you hear that one of Bon Jovi is suing the other one about c0pyright control?‘ We thought it would be nice to put the two songs [‘Heaven is a Place on Earth' and ‘You Give Love a Bad Name'] together. and they worked perfectly.
For the final dates, are you going to give people what they want?
I think you've got to go with majority rule on that one. There's going to be a couple of tracks off the new album. but it's definitely got to be a goodbye set. putting in people‘s favourites and our favourites. It's going to be fun: all your ‘Halcyon's and y0ur ‘Satan's and all that.
And have you thought much about the future?
Anything really. I'm not thinking beyond the Orbital commitments now. but I've got a studio. and I‘ve got mates around who are interested in mucking about. and I'm doing the DJing. I haven't settled on anything but that's the way we tended to write music in the past anyway: just wait and see what goes on.
I Orbital play the King Tut's Tent. Sun 7 7 Jul.