One From the Vault: Atomic Hooligan

Ensconced deep within the pastoral Hertfordshire countryside, Matt Welch and Terry Ryan have been mucking about with breaks and beats since the early 90s. In the city to play for Beatmonkey last year (2003), JUICE met Atomic Hooligan’s Terry Ryan, sans Matt Welch and watched him put away a plate of TSB’s Fish And Chips.  “We were in the studio working on our album. So I locked him in there,” Terry chuckles explaining his partner’s absence.

On a mission to destroy genre divides, Atomic Hooligan’s single ‘Larger Than Life’ feat. Cousin Vini was massive, and their mixes for Botchit and Scarper’s 4Vini and Botchit Breaks 5 and Defected’s Y4K series, were huge. On the cusp of releasing their long awaited artist album, the nuclear duo have gained notoriety for their “unofficial” remixes—their rework of Underworld’s ‘Cowgirl’ proved so devastating that Underworld’s label, Junior Boys Own commissioned a crackling remix of Born Slippy for Underworld’s Anthology 1992-2002 (released 3 November 2003).

C’mon really. Where’s Matt?
Matt’s a home cat. That is kind of why we work so well together, I don’t mind sleeping on someone’s sofa, or crashing at a bus stop, and he does. I was in my room for years learning how to scratch, so I am going out and doing it now. He was traveling and just wants to spend his time in the studio and with his girlfriend now.

And you guys have been mates forever?
No, not really. And we are not really mates now (laughs). Mutual friendship brought us together. That was about five years ago, and we have been pretty much best friends for the last five years because we see each other practically every day.

So what is it with your pseudonyms, Chad Outlaw and Rick Stealth?
After we have spent a hard day in the studio, we will go down and have a couple of pints at the local pub. I am portraying us really badly here, but it comes from porn star names and American pilot names, and stuff like that. We might use the combination of Outlaw and Stealth some time in the future.

Describe your music.
Eclectic. We are not trying to be everything to every man, but we want people to listen to our music and appreciate that we are music fans rather than just music producers, strictly digging for records and that kind of boring stuff. Hopefully it is like food for the mind and for the feet!

What’s the craziest sample you’ve used?
I don’t make a habit of revealing my samples, but one that we used on a track called ‘In It Together’, the whole intro has a flute sample going through it and that was taken from…. (Laughs) I shouldn’t really say this, because if anybody reads it they will cane us! (Laughs)…. Terry Riley, an amazingly progressive jazz producer and jazz musician. We just took it and laid it straight over. It is the most freaky record you will ever listen to in your life! It’s just two tracks on it, but it is album length.

Do you think superstar DJs and club culture has killed off the art of mixing and scratching?
To a certain extent, but I think it is coming back around again because there are so many DJs that have got away with not being very good DJs. I don’t think the public is fooled that easily anymore. Some of them make mixes that sound like a pair of trainers in a tumble dryer! DJs like Krafty Kuts, are genuinely talented DJs, can scratch, can mix, have got the selection and know exactly what they are doing.

Nu skool breaks, old skool breaks; what’s the difference?
Breaks are breaks. If you are a music lover, the names won’ make any difference to you whatsoever. That’s what I think.

Returning to the topic of your artist album, has that got a title yet?
They are working titles. One of them was The Girl Is Filth, but we decided not to call it that because it is kind of offensive (laughs).

What inspired that stroke of genius?
We were thinking about dirty music really, and for us it is kind of more important to get the girls involved rather than the lads. Music for men is all about chin scratching, spotting records and catalogue numbers. For women it’s just about going out and having a good time. I think.

Spotting records and catalogue numbers? Eh?
You go to places in the world and that is the only way they know how to communicate with the DJ. It is like, ‘BS10011191!’ and then they shout the name of the track and you go, ‘yeah, umm, great. Is that the one that goes woooowahhwoowowwahh?’

What’s your greatest fear?
Paper cuts. Edges of paper really freak me out (laughs). I had a friend who was scared of buttons on clothes. All his clothes had to have Velcro on them.

Okay, finish this quick fire round of questions:
You hate Gabba. There isn’t one thing I can find appealing about Gabba.”
Rules to live by Live a life, not a lifestyle.
You have a secret desire to be a … um, international superstar man model? (Laughs)
Little known fact I’m a qualified graphic designer. J

Many thanks to the Beatmonkey crew for the interview. This interview first appeared in the January 2004 issue of JUICE.