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The Story Behind… The Nine

The Story Behind… The Nine
6 Feb, 2014

the nineLast week saw the return of an undisputed D&B classic: Bad Company – The Nine.

16 years old and gun fingers still guaranteed, regardless of the DJ playing it or whatever sub-genre it’s being mixed into, the minute THAT reece roars its way into the blend, you know what level of chaos is going to occur.

Each member of the influential crew have gone on to carve their own sound and creative motif, we caught up with Bad Taste bossman Vegas to ask a few questions…. Why remaster it now? Can we expect another reunion?

PLUS, the question every D&B fan has asked since it first emerged all those years ago – what does The Nine’s title actually mean?

Let’s rewind, man…

It’s a bit crazy… The Nine wasn’t even a main track when it was first released. We didn’t realise the power it had until we started mixing it into other records. The way it works from the first 16 drop into the second, the bit when the hi-hats come in just after that big reece chase, it’s so simplistic but it captured something that wasn’t around at the time. Sometimes a tune embraces the essence of what is there already; it broke it down for everybody. As soon as people like Andy C mixed it from that reece, it just got taken in the wind. It’s just a wicked a DJ tool really.

Just a wicked DJ tool?

Ha! You know what I mean.

So none of you knew how big this would be when you were all in the studio making it?

Not specifically, no. We knew we were happy with it but we couldn’t predict anything more than that. It was actually written by Fresh and Maldini. We’d all be in the studio on different days in different combinations. We were pumping things out. The mixing desk was a live analogue one. You had to get the track finished and done and then move on to the next one. You couldn’t just do something, save it and come back to it like you do now. One session, one track. You HAVE to finish it. Next one.

Wow. Tell us about some of the hardware you were using…

The heart of it was an EMU 16400 Ultra sampler. It was run through the desk, Mackie speakers and a whole load of distortion pedals and compressors externally. We sequenced on an Atari ST with a really early version of Cubase. We’d have sampling sessions before we’d start a track; old music, old films, anything. We might find one break or some old hats or anything that captured an aura. We never looked for samples to fit something, we would start with the sample.

Do you miss those days?

Yes and no. I think some people need to check what they do because they’re making over-produced, sterile crap. But us lot? We were there originally, so we still have that mind-set. I love the equipment we have available to us now, but I still have that original approach. You have to enjoy it and feel it; that’s the most important thing. Don’t just sit there and labour over making beats sound ‘perfect’… Do that and you lose any traces of soul.

How long did you guys labour over The Nine?

I think about a day. Some tunes we’d be tinkering with ideas for a few days before bringing it all together in seven or eight hours. The Nine, as I recall, was a very quick session.

bad company

Isn’t it about time you told us what the title is a reference to?

Ha! It’s a secret.

Come on…

It’s been a secret for 16 years now and I’m not going to spoil that. Darren, Jason and Dan are the only men who know the secret.

YOU don’t know the secret then?

No, I was never told.

Rubbish!

Haha, okay, I DO know what The Nine is. Or should I say I do know who The Nine are

Woah… Are these people in drum & bass or jungle?

Nah, it’s MUCH deeper than that. Don’t push me, you’re not getting any more than that!

Intriguing. So did any of you have a clue at what awaited you in the future? Or were you living in the moment?

We were absolutely living in the moment. We were kids watching something unfold in front of us. It’s cheesy but it did feel spiritual. We could feel the energy coming back at us. Standing in front of thousands of people and watching them go crazy to our music, it was incredible. It was never forced. Everything felt very natural. That’s the most important thing. We were there, just living it, absorbing it and not caring about the future.

Give me the proudest moment…

Mad you ask this question. Earlier this month on Facebook I saw a picture of me and dBridge in Sao Paulo from the year 2000. I was like ‘woah! This was my best moment in drum & bass ever ever ever!’ I jumped on and commented. The thread went on and on, even people like Marky got involved and eventually someone called Cable jumped on with this video…

For 14 years I’d never seen it. I’ve been telling people about this as my Bad Company highlight and suddenly there it was to relive. I know Darren felt the same, he’s posted it saying it was the best night he’s ever had himself.  It was ridiculous. I’d been to so many concerts and shows before then but this was something else. It was underground, it was tribal. Brazil is a musical rhythmical country and this club was ghetto. It wasn’t showy or pretentious or any of that, it was the real thing.

Wow. So what’s next and why now?

This has been on the cards for a few years but we’ve been finding time and finding DATs. Bad Taste is in a good place, all the guys are up for it so it’s happening naturally. There are many exciting projects planned…

You re-united at the Exit party last year, will that happen again?

Sure. We’re all at a very good stage of our careers now. There’s no pressure. We’re just up for having a bit of fun.

That Exit party was amazing. Seeing the next generation go as mental to our music as kids did back in the day was very special. It was big room but we filled it totally. We didn’t know how well it go down. We were more than chuffed with it and will definitely be doing it again. Watch this space!

The Nine / Dogfight is out now. 

Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.