Indie band DJs
Time Out asks should band DJs be banned, or are all those guitarists and drummers hitting the decks a good thing?
Klaxons! Hot Chip! Bloc Party! The Futureheads! The Horrors! That would make a great festival line-up, but these bands have all been playing out on the decks more than on stage recently. The last few years has seen the indie-alternative club scene swamped with flyers boasting the appearance of guitar superstars (or guitar nobodies…) with DJs in brackets after their names. Band DJs have fast become as much of a staple as Carling lager at the capital’s innumerable indie nights and more will follow suit in 2007.
Often we are too boozed-up to notice who’s playing what when, so Time Out decided to investigate whether these musicians-turned-dancefloor-enthusiasts are actually worth a boogie and if not, why all the fuss anyway?
Although it may seem like a new ball game, the trend for band DJs started back in the ’90s, when indie clubs like Automatic were in full swing, putting on Britpop DJs from bands like Blur and Pulp, and then later when Soulwax realised that their huge success as 2ManyDJs was far eclipsing their fame as guitar-wielding rockers. In 2005 it was Brit band Simian’s turn to grab the wheels of steel and make a go of their Simian Mobile Disco side-project, remixing any bit of tat they could get their hands on and, in doing so, packing out any club whose bill they graced.
In the meantime the landscape of dance music has evolved to encompass indie music and vice-versa, and the mindset of clubs and promoters has changed, too. Jas of Simian Mobile Disco used to struggle to find places to DJ once he’d played with his band: ‘Most gig venues wanted to shut up shop at 11.30pm, but now they’ve changed and have DJs on after the bands. The bands are knocking around having beers after their gig and thinking: This DJ is shit, we can do better that that.’
And apparently that’s not the only reason bands want a go in the box. ‘Now that you don’t really have to be a DJ to be a DJ it’s a quick way to make money while exploiting your band,’ says Tabitha of the Queens of Noize, while Jeff Automatic talks of a ‘tipping point’ in about 2003 when record companies slackened their reins and bands suddenly realised that they had the resources to DJ. XFM Xposure DJ John Kennedy suggests that some ‘just want to air their records in public’.
From a promoter’s point of view, getting a well-known band’s name on the flyer is important, even though they may have no turntable talent to speak of. ‘I wouldn’t say it’s ability, it’s book-ability,’ says Olly, one half of the Filthy Dukes who run Kill ’Em All (which returns to the Barfly on Saturday), ‘and every night now has band DJs because bands like the Klaxons cost around £10,000 to book live, but only few hundred quid to DJ.’
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