We've spent the last eight weeks curating a special Bank Holiday line-up for independent radio station Altar Ego. We've never been asked to do anything like this before, and we reckon we've put together a wonderful assortment of mis-shapes, bringing together the amateur and professional alike; comedy, poetry, dance, murk, bangers, electronics, soundtracks, futureshock, interviews and guest-curations. Whatever occurs this weekend we know it'll be dive and lie wrecked, to borrow from Radioactive Man!
Why ask us? Well, you might know that years ago me and Leigh ran a pirate radio station in Birmingham, where as well as organising schedules, advertising and doing the general day-to-day stuff with assorted colleagues, we played as Perry + Mole. We even played some gigs, and stuffing a record bag with tunes late on a Saturday night after a week’s work was a weekly task, with me packing a folio of work to do at the same time, while waiting for our turn on the wheels of steel. I was often to be found inking on the floor to the sound of the drum’n’bass, trip-hop, breakbeat or whatever else was being played at the time, in assorted cold empty studios with non-stop tea and, usually, a bag of chips somewhere along the line from a legendary Erdington chippy.
There’s a lot of romance and myth surrounding pirate radio, but it was hard work and a proper commitment - like having another part-time job. Here are some shots betraying the true brutality of pirate radio. We were called ‘Real’ after all (when we stopped being called Mix).
Hand-calligraphing the Shout Outs:
Playing records and trying to be invisible (and wearing my Grandpa’s cardy):
A diabolical attitude to authority was essential:
Possibly the worst studio we ever had - with the nicest guest we ever had, Monkichi, now head of A&R at XL Records:
And the breathtaking 4am view from the studio. All-city, always beautiful. (Those tower blocks aren’t there any more.)
Even being under 30 couldn’t stop the 3ams taking their toll:
This weekend I get the chance to relive the pleasure and pain of playing one record after another without it sounding horrendous, as I’m getting my headphones back on and playing a couple of sets on Altar Ego Radio, an independent radio station. I’m no DJ, but I do love my chunes, and cannot work, think or exist without music - whether it’s Squarepusher's tear-inducing bassdrama, the exquisite pain of some of Venetian Snares’ most magnificent ear-grating or a humble Human League classic. In other racks you’ll find my Paul Simon records, my Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Barbara Streisand, and the masses of electronics.
That’s not to say I’m playing all that. I don’t actually know what exactly I’ll be playing yet - but I know I'm likely to leave records everywhere and put them all back in the wrong white sleeves - a bad habit I never did break! The station’s mission statement, after all, says 'We are raw, live, honest, irreverent and temporary.‘
Tune in - you can do it on your actual radio at the 89.6fm frequency, or online on your phone, computer or iPad etc. - altaregoradio.tumblr.com/listenlive
And just for gigglz, here is me and Leigh DJing at the Custard Factory in Brum, playing just before DJ Food burned the place to the ground with a Godzillan drum’n’bass set of biblical proportions. How excited do I look?