Six things you didn't know about the post-new wave fusioneers
Big Audio Dynamite – aka Bad – were the post-new-wave fusioneers formed by the core of Mick Jones and Don Letts, and responsible for such hits as ‘Rush’ and ‘The Globe’. The band’s original line-up recently announced they were getting back together for the first time since 1990. We spoke to Jones and Letts about their reunion.
They hate reunions. Don Letts You know what, you caught me out there, man. ’Cos back in the day, I used to curse reunions because I firmly believe you get a window of opportunity, you should use it to the best of your ability, and then you can let someone else have a go. Yet, here I stand before you. Mick Jones I think we can add something to something we already did. I’m searching for meaning in my life! That’s why I’m doing it.
Despite Bad’s patent fusionism being de rigeuer at the moment, that has nothing to do with the timeliness of their reformation… DL But it is interesting that the elements that gave Bad its identity back in the day – the Jamaican bassline, the hip hop beats, the rock ’n’ roll guitar and the samples – they’re still the elements that excite me today. MJ Also, we have the magic of Kenwood mixing to blend all sorts.
There was never a masterplan behind Bad beyond an attempt to infiltrate as many DJ booths as possible. MJ We started going to clubs a lot, and we wanted to see if we could make music that was a part of that in some way. DL We naively thought we could create some sort of space where they all met. Because it was a lot like walking around the streets of London at that time – you’d hear things coming out of shops or out of people’s ghetto blasters... MJ And you don’t get ghetto blasters so much anymore. They’re just too heavy, I think.
Having remained friends in the 20 years since their split, the decision to reunite had When Harry Met Sally overtones… MJ It’s funny you should mention that, because you know that fantastic film with Michael Sheen where he plays Brian Clough? The Damned United – it’s a bromance really, when he comes back and he has to get down on his knees… DL I didn’t have to get down on my knees! You were easy! But you’re talking my language now with the romance – if there was a narrative, that’s how I’d write it, as a narrative, romantic story, and I’m very glad to be part of the next chapter. Not a lot of people get that chance.
They don’t like to be thought of as having a ‘legacy’. MJ I’d like to do something now, if that’s possible, rather than have a legacy. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m looking at making it better than before. I think we all are better at what we do now. DL We’re not running around trying to be 15 years old anymore. MJ We’re not chasing that particular illusion, it’s true. However, we are... DL On a diet. MJ … seriously thinking about it, in terms of how it’s relevant now.
Their lyrics foretold the future (in a somewhat universal style). DL The thing with Bad is we wanted to have a good time, but we wanted the songs at their core to be about something. Not necessarily about this week’s newspaper headline, but things that had an emotional truth. MJ We’re surprised how relevant the lyrics still are. ‘A Party’ could be about what’s going on in the Middle East and North Africa right now. ‘Someone called the tear-gas van…’ It’s almost exactly word-for-word what’s going on. DL Yeah, I’ll big up Bad for that – the lyrics are bang on. And they’ll be bang on in 50 years, because they deal with eternal themes.