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Top One, Nice One, Get Altern-8 Sorted For Xmas No.1

Mark Archer - Altern-8 - Activ-8 Come With Me - 2013

Activ-8 (Come With Me) by Altern-8

Formed in 1990, Altern-8 quickly established themselves as one of the leading acts on the UK’s rave scene, with their chemical warfare suits, rave masks, Vick’s Vapor Rub and love of the odd promotional stunt the duo of Mark Archer and Chris Peat regularly found themselves splashed across the pages of everyone from Mixmag to The Sun.

Whether standing for parliament, dishing out Altern-8 branded Christmas puddings or organising impromptu middle of the night raves in other club’s carparks, Altern-8 were as far from the faceless Techno producer stereotype possible, and to this day retain a devoted following.

I have a chat with Mark Archer in the run-up to the single release and I ask him about the remixes on the forthcoming package, if this is just a seasonal fad or if a comeback is imminent:

Interview with Mark Archer

I guess you’re doing a lot of promo work just lately then?

Yeah, it’s taken off a bit mad really. Since my girlfriend showed me the link on Facebook about the campaign, and it’s just gone absolutely mental.

Were you able to take it seriously when you first saw it or did you just treat it as “just another one of those” Facebook campaigns?

To be honest, when I first saw it I thought, “Why have they picked an Altern-8 record?”. It’s massively flattering but of all the tunes anyone could pick, someone picked ‘Activ-8‘. It isn’t exactly the most festive but then again, Rage Against The Machine wasn’t exactly the most festive either. It’s all an anti-X-Factor thing. So it’s really nice they they have picked it. The support that came out straight away on it, when I saw thew campaign page there was literally 6 Likes on there and over the next two days it went up to over 10K. People are obviously treating it seriously.

So you’re officially now classed as being a Christmas number 1 contender?

Yeah, I think it went up yesterday (now Thursday) on the website of the people who do the charts and we are the second biggest campaign behind the one by AC/DC

When it comes to the original track, who’s the voice of the vocal sample you used for the track? The “Top one, nice one, get sorted” one? Have you managed to track him down for this?

Well it’s actually the daughter of the label we were signed to Network Records, it was Neil Rushton’s daughter. He got her into the studio as we were recording that version of ‘Activ-8‘, she was 3 at the time, and got up and said that line and a tiny bit at the end. We’re friends on Facebook. She’s 25 now and married. She has kept an eye on the campaign and is really chuffed with the way it’s going.

She could be the voice of the forthcoming Christmas number one single?

Oh yeah, yeah. I’d imagine that her voice has changed quite a bit since then. But yeah, she’d be the one to be able to pull off a decent impression of herself though.

How quickly did you manage to get the remixes together because you’ve got about 10 tracks on the package that you’re releasing, that’s pretty quick going to have got all of those sorted out?

Well when I first asked about remixes we’d got until the week before say the week or two before the 15th of December which was going to be the release date, and then it was decided by the label that it was a good idea to do pre-orders so they were basically given a week to get the remixes in. For a lot of them, you know, I’d asked a massive favour. A few people said that there was no way that they could do it in time but we were so lucky getting all of the remixes in. We had a fantastic amount of help from the guys and they’ve pulled off absolute blinders. All of the remixes are brilliant, really spot on. So all in all, they were done and dusted in a week.

Top One, Nice One, Get Altern 8 Sorted For Xmas No.1

You’ve got DJ Phantasy on board with a DnB remix, The Lucius Project with a Deep House vibe going on, Rocket Pimp with a bit of a fat Dubstep remix, which is a very big tune. Billy ‘Daniel’ Bunter as well with King Yoof, AGT Rave Cru and you’ve got Tommie Sunshine & Gosteffects in on an Electro collaboration which is a massive, pleasant surprise, Shadow Dancer and Xen Mantra. Are you surprised by the diversity that you’ve managed to get on board?

Well I’ve tried to get some different styles, obviously with the EDM thing being big at the moment, plus the fact that I’m good friends with Tommie Sunshine and he’s like mad into Altern-8, so I saw this as a classic opportunity to get Tommie on to doing it. I’ve known DJ Phantasy since ’91 – ’92. The Rocket Pimp one, I’d asked Mark Breeze if he knew anyone who could do a remix and he put me in touch with Rocket Pimp and we sorted that out. That’s one of my favourite remixes, I mean, I’m not one for dubstep myself but hearing different interpretations of a tune that was recorded 22 years ago and what people come out with, I think it’s a fantastic remix. It is very diverse to try and cover all of the different sounds rather than having ten remixes that are all one particular genre.

You’ve got the ‘Hardcore Holocaust Mix’, that one is the actual the original isn’t it?

Yeah, yeah. But, that one was actually the second version that we did. We originally went into the studio and recorded the one version and that was the ‘Vix-Vapo Mix‘ which ended up as a B-Side on the 12″. Then the label asked us to do another version and then that one ended up as the A-Side – A bit of an insight 22 years later!. The original tune was something that I just demo-ed up to play out when we were doing Live PAs because we we started to be asked to do Live PAs when we had done ‘Infiltr-8‘ but we hadn’t got enough tracks to actually do a live set so I quickly demo-ed up a few little bits and bobs at home, ‘Activ-8‘ was one of them and ‘E-Vapor-8‘ was the other, and we just took those demos into the studio and we built around them and built them up to what they are.

You’re still doing quite a bit of DJ work aren’t you by being hit up by ‘Old Skool’s Most Wanted’ up in Manchester a few times over the last couple of years?

Yeah, yeah, I’ve just been asked actually to play at The Warehouse Project in December so there’s chance I’ll be up there again. Because of the publicity that’s taken off again. I do make a living doing DJing but the Old Skool scene does go up and down. Sometimes you can have one or two gigs a month and then you could be working two or three times a weekend, and because of the publicity of this whole campaign it’s taken off again so I’m pretty flat-out at the moment.

But Altern-8 are a duo so if you’ve got a partner-in-crime, is he having to come back out into the limelight?

He’s offered his support at the beginning of the campaign and that’s all we’ve heard from him really. I’ve not seen him since ’93. We agreed to split up. He’s remained pretty quiet, to be honest.

What’s next for Mark Archer?

I’ve been continuing to do my own productions and had releases on the Balkan Vinyl label, I’ve had a released on Sonic Heavy that was earlier in the year. I’ve been doing more of the Nexus 21 kind of Detroit Techno style of stuff. I’ve had a few Acid releases as well on Balkan Vinyl, and my ‘Trackman’ pseudonym that was like mid-90’s about ’95 – ’96, my first EP is being re-released at the beginning of next year.

So is this showing signs of the return of Altern-8 or do you think this is more of a seasonal fad?

I’m not sure whether we’ll see the return of Altern-8, I mean there might be. The label might re-issue the album, possibly do something with all of the videos as well. They’ve sat on that release for the past 20 years and they’re constantly being asked to re-release it. There is a chance that might come out and generate some new remixes. I’m not sure if new material will show it’s head or not.

When it comes to the forthcoming remix package the remixers have indeed paid a great homage to the original release, as you’ll hear in this little preview mix. Some classic tones are still in use for one or two, and then we have something very different indeed on others. But let me tell you now, they’re all pretty awesome.

Activ-8 (Come With Me) by Altern-8 is released by Network Records on December 15th, 2013

Edit: It’s out now.

Mark Archer of Altern-8


The Campaigners


Top One, Nice One, Get Altern 8 Sorted For Xmas No.1


Online Media Executive at Funkatech
Breakspoll Award-Nominated Blogger. Author of Nero's exhaustive Twitter bio. Supports C.A.L.M. - http://www.thecalmzone.net/. Now sells jewellery online.
Top One, Nice One, Get Altern 8 Sorted For Xmas No.1
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  • http://thetruejoe90.com/ thetruejoe90

    I must say though, the remixes are stunning. The DnB one is brilliant DnB, the Dubstep take is fat as, and I’m loving the Electro version too. Plus there’s two House, the originals, a chillout and the ‘Bunter & King Yoof remix! It’s an ace package!