Group of Underworld ‘Barking’ Articles
Published: by Todd.
Here are a bunch of Underworld press articles from the tail-end of the Barking tour.
Underworld chat about their new album Barking and take us Behind the Scenes
How do you prepare for a show and get yourself into the right mindset after spending lots of time traveling and little time sleeping?
Switch off, clear the head of preconceptions, open up to the possibility that everything could go counter to all our plans (wrong) & that the show will most likely be all the better for it. Let go of Ego & go with the flow. Then do some stretching exercises, drink hot spice tea with honey, concentrated ginseng & eat a banana. Then sing the very lowest notes I can for five minutes, Then focus only on Rick & Darren as we walk to the stage – don’t speak with anyone but them & clear the head one last time, hug, step out on stage & feel the electricity
The lyrics on Barking are refreshingly up front in the mix and you’re singing voice is more melodic than ever. Was there a conscious effort to sing less abstract/found poetry?
Yeah, that idea came from Rick. He suggested I give a few more clues as to what I’m singing about and kept pushing me to re-record the vocals until he got what he wanted.
I thought there’d be more instrumental tracks on the album, but he had different ideas!
The Self-Titled Interview: Karl Hyde of Underworld
The story of Underworld’s early days is a compelling one, so we asked singer Karl Hyde to relate the entire experience along with how the multi-medium artist recently came full circle with his first solo painting exhibition.
Was Rick always the quiet one? Even your first group, Freur, seemed to position you as the frontman…
Well, Rick was the keyboard player, so that was the position he felt the most comfortable with—just driving the thing, and through the ’80s, he developed into an excellent producer and emerged from behind the scenes. He was the core of what Underworld became. It was very much his vision when it changed from Mk1 to Mk2 in the ’90s. He may be the quiet one, but he’s a huge, driving force at the core of the group.
A Conversation with Underworld: ‘Digital in Music is a Necessary Evil’
Are there specific tracks that came out of both approaches?
“JAL to Tokyo,” that we put out on a download album, Rick wrote that on a Japan Airlines track. And a track on Barking, “Hamburg Hotel,” was written exactly where you might expect. Rick’s working on a piece with David Lynch that he’s been working on mostly in his hotel room, and without digital that wouldn’t be possible.
U.K. Dance Music Stars Underworld Talk Barking
with Video: Underworld’s ‘Scribble’ Explained
“Every time I hear that song [‘Louisiana’], I think, ‘People might not get this when I say it, but it’s kind of dark.’ I had written the verse and the chorus with a piano and it was in the archive, and I said, ‘I think there’s something here, something really strong and I think we need to make the rest of the tune,’ ” Hyde recalled. “So I said [to Rick], ‘Let’s try something radical. We’ll get into the room with you on piano, we’ll have a beat box, and I’ll have a microphone!’ ” he explained.
Underworld: Barking Mad: Reinvention as Self – Realization
Ramirez replaced Underworld’s drums with sounds from his own sample library (“We liked Underworld’s TR-909 sounds, but they sounded 10 to 15 years too late”) and created a breakdown using a hidden guitar part. “The breakdown didn’t exist initially, their arrangement was quite linear,” Ramirez recalls. “We wanted to keep that big, euphoric moment, so we stripped it down to Karl’s guitar, which was originally buried very low in the mix just as a thickening element. We really liked it, so we made the guitar into the main breakdown element. There was a middle eight-vocal bit, we put that over the breakdown. And Rick hated that bit! He was really against it. We had to fight with him to put it in. After a few months, he admitted he liked it.”
Underworld’s barking sound invades Los Angeles
Underworld’s contemplative method in creating dance tracks, draws from what Hyde called “a deep well of history” — from Smith’s childhood background in church music to contemporary acts such as noise-rock band HEALTH, which Hyde said he to admired.
How We Met: Rick Smith & Karl Hyde
Karl: The first time I met Rick was in the corridor of my flat in Cardiff. His mate was in the band I was in, and he came to repair our amplifier. As it turned out, it was full of knives and forks, which was why it didn’t work. I remember that expression on his face, that bemused look of “You’re an idiot,” which he still often has. After that, we needed a new keyboard player and we decided to ask him. We went looking for him on his birthday, and we ended up having this conversation with him while he was lying in the bath with his clothes on and a bottle of champagne in his hand. It’s funny, as that’s so unlike Rick, I’ve never seen him [in such a state] since.
Rick: When we met [in the late 1970s], Karl had recently finished art college and I was at the University of Wales doing electronics. A good friend of mine was in a band with him, and they were desperate for a synthesizer player. I don’t know what I was thinking at the time: I’d never really thought about a career in music. I think it was just unbelievable stupidity on my part. They were one of the biggest bands in Cardiff, and I’d just seen them do this gig on the roof of the student union, and it seemed so glamorous. Then after a month I thought, “Shit, what have I done?”
Calling us back to the dancefloor
Hyde recognises the value which comes from working with younger producers.
“When I was a kid, I’d listen to someone like Miles Davis and he was never afraid to bring in other artists, particularly younger ones who had a contemporary way of thinking. They also had an attitude which came with their age which you lose as you get older. You can then make a decision to either make older music, which usually tends to be more mature and sedate, or you can go out disgracefully.”
Underworld’s Karl Hyde talks to eGigs
So what can people expect at you run of UK live shows?
Ahh, you know a wild bit of improvisation, the music, the light, the video. What you can expect is probably the last Underworld only shows you’re going to get for a really long time. So, this is it. These shows now in the UK are the last Underworld only shows that we’re planning to do for a really long time. It’s going to be really interesting, no sadness, but a lot of joy. We’ll be playing to our own crowd, because next year it’s going to be full on festivals. Then at the end of next year we’ve got a lot of plans. The things that we haven’t been able to do for the last 20 years, that we’d like to spend some time focusing on. So these are the last Underworld only shows that you’ll see for a long time.
It’s always been their way. Going back to earlier times, Rick would play acetates in clubs and stand at the back to capture the sound and the response from the crowd. “With Barking we crafted all the tracks this way and then we set about finding people to collaborate with on the production. We then start this whole back-and-forth thing, jamming via the studio and online before deciding on a completed track.
Where there songs that changed dramatically from your version to the reworked version?
All the songs are our version. We worked on all of them right until the mastering was finished. Some of them changed greatly from the original idea or demo, some didn’t. But we were part of that change and don’t really look at the songs “our” versions and the “reworked” versions. We are used to material changing, developing, and evolving. A version of “Born Slippy” that we would play live now is nothing like the one we would have done in 1996, or like the record for that matter. For us, there is never really a moment when a song isn’t in a state of flux.