Groove Armada On Cake-Throwing, Going Back To Their Roots, And That M&S Advert

Groove Armada, aka Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, have been playing Fabric’s Room One for the past 18 months. On May 27 they’re back with a new Fabric comp, ‘FABRICLIVE 87’ which they’re calling “super tasty”. We caught up with the veteran dance pair at Snowbombing 2016, a winter sports and music festival in Austria, where they were back for the fourth time to play the festival’s legendary fancy dress street party.

Welcome back to Snowbombing! How are you feeling about today’s show?
Tom: “We normally do this place called The Racket Club, which is this big indoor arena. This is the first time we’ve done the outdoor stage, street party thing, it should be fun.”

Groove Armada in the Alps #groovearmada #snowbombing A video posted by NME (@nmemagazine) on Apr 5, 2016 at 12:17pm PDT

Jungle are playing just before you tonight, aren’t they?
Tom: “Yeah. I really love Jungle, I saw them at Brixton Academy a few months ago, I thought they were great. And I’m not in any way making comparisons, but the vibe to what we did live a few years ago, it sort of reminds me of that, the way they do it. They’re a really knockout band.”

Groove is in the hof at @snowbombingofficial – here’s Jungle warming up for Groove Armada. A video posted by NME (@nmemagazine) on Apr 5, 2016 at 11:06am PDT


As veterans of the festival, what are your tips for noobs?
Andy: “Pack a pair of shorts, on this year’s evidence!”
Tom: “It’s kind of weird because I’ve never experienced it fully until this time, when we’ve actually had some time. Going up to the mountain today really captured the mad magic of it all. You see people coming up on the mountains, they get revitalised with some fresh air, then by about 4pm they get right on it.

“I just saw Mr Motivator, which was something of a lifetime ambition. And that sort of captured the spirit of Snowbombing pretty perfectly. It was actually one of the rare moments I felt quite proud to be British, just to see him up there and the reception he was getting. And he looks exactly the same as he did 20 years ago on that GMTV sofa.

@jennyjonessnow getting motivated. #mrmotivator #snowbombing @threeuk A video posted by Les Seddon-Brown (@lseddonbrown) on Apr 10, 2016 at 2:51pm PDT

“I think you can’t be cynical about it because it’s just not that sort of place, you need to leave your cynicism at home, because it’s just pure fun. There’s a sense of constant possibility. It’s basically what makes Ibiza work as well, in a different way. If you can just get on at that level with it, and you like fancy dress… it’s kind of like darts!”

Groove Armada – SnowbombingThanks Snowbombing – here’s a clip of us playing You Got The Love from our set!!! #Lazer & #Lights #GrooveArmadaStylePosted by Groove Armada on Friday, 8 April 2016

Are you good skiers?
Tom: “He’s a great skier, I’m terrible, I’ve got a dickie knee.”
Andy: “I live near the mountains. Not these ones, but in the Pyrenees, so I do snowboarding. But about five years ago I was being quite mental and now I’m slipping into that age where you go a bit less mental…”
Tom: “When you see him in a fluffy coat, he is actually like the abominable snowman on a board, and he’s looking pretty good.”
Andy: “Not as good as I used to, but a bit of the old magic’s still there.”

What have you been up to recently?
Tom: “We’re doing this comp for Fabric, we’ve got that coming out in May. We’ve been playing the main room there for the last 18 months, and that’s been really nice – it’s weird, because the first residency we ever had in London was in a little room in the top. When we first started, when Fabric opened, basically, we were residents in room 3, so we came back there about a year and a half ago. A lot of the same people were working there – it was quite odd – and we finally made it into the main room after 17 years. Doing that’s really nice and it feels quite in line with where we’re at musically, and the stuff we wanna make, and the labels that we’re releasing music with.


What are your thoughts on EDM?
Andy: “It’s like comparing what we do to selling caravans. It’s got nothing to do with it. The whole ethos of the house music that we love and that we play – and that fortunately is also very much in the resurgence thanks to the Troxlers and Jamie Jones and all that gang – it’s got nothing to do with it. The whole idea of being lost in the groove compared to the razzle-dazzle and fireworks and the girl in the bikini with a fire-throwing chainsaw, it’s not the same thing. It’s got nothing to do with it.”

What do you make of Avicii’s ‘retirement’?
Tom: “I think Carl Cox is retiring as well. That makes more sense, because he’s obviously done a few years, but Avicii’s…”
Andy: “It’s like setting yourself up for a million-dollar comeback.”

What do you think it says about EDM at the moment, though?
Tom: “That stuff burns furiously and brightly and quite quickly. I don’t think anyone could do… you couldn’t have a six-hour session of EDM in a nightclub because it would drive you mental. That’s why I think it comes into its own in Ibiza, in places like Ushuaïa where you’ve got a main stage and it’s sort of that vibe, or you’ve got Creamfields. It lends itself incredibly well to that kind of thing, and it’s coming in a way and will probably fill the void where back in our day – I hate to use that phrase – you had like The Prodigy, and Underworld, and us, and Basement Jaxx, you had those main stage acts, they’re just filling that space.

“That’s what they’re doing, they’re doing that showbiz sort of vibe. And I think there’s a place for it, I’d rather not be there, but I think there’s a place for it and I think people enjoy it. If they wanna have the cake thrown at them by Steve Aoki then good luck to them!”

Last night they were carb loading. Talk about force feeding! #steveaoki #Aokiplayhouse #pacha #pachaibiza #aokicake A video posted by Jacoby Morgan (MorganMuscle) (@morgan_muscle) on Aug 11, 2015 at 11:08am PDT

Would you ever get your old band back together?
Andy: “I don’t think so. I think we did the Black Light album which was a kind of… that was the sound of the band on stage album, it took 15 years nearly to get that together. And it’s a record we’re really proud of, the gigs that followed that were electric. And at the time we were being offered slots for the live bands on the big stages still.

“That’s the sort of time when EDM in Europe was taking over everything and we were sort of playing before or after the Guetta-y, Laidback Luke-y stuff and that was a million miles away from where it was at for us. We had a great finish but we decided to get out of that, playing the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury and three nights at Brixton Academy and all that. It just felt like the time to say, ‘this is brilliant, it’s been brilliant, let’s stop’ and what we’re feeling now is just going back to doing the house music we’ve always loved, let’s do that.”

Tom: “I can’t see us doing another artist album, I don’t think that’s where we’re at. And I don’t think we will ever get the band back together. Even though we’ve never really said that, it’s probably the truth. I think we’re in a cycle almost like we were when we started, a cycle where we put out an EP, do a few gigs, put out another EP and do another few gigs and you just keep doing that. For a long time we were in a cycle where it was kind of album/promo/tour, album/promo/tour, and it’s quite nice to be out of that cycle.”

Do you have any involvement with Lovebox any more?
“We’re completely out of it. Which is kind of odd, because obviously it was our third or fourth record. But we’re completely unattached, which is fine. Actually the only nice thing about it is actually it’s good now. They’ve got LCD headlining on the Saturday and I’ll be down there. One of our best mates, Jules, who set the original thing up, still runs it. It would be a pain if it turned into some awful EDM fest but it hasn’t. It’s not necessarily exactly how we’d imagined it but I think the spirit is still there.

Who will you go and see here?
Andy: “Definitely Jungle. Black Coffee was nice last night. And I’m definitely going to go down to the Racket Club and see Sven Vath.”

Who are you excited about at the moment?
Andy: “The house scene is great and a lot of people, Eats Everything is still doing great stuff and all those people are doing amazing house music. I did really love Jungle, I really felt like that was a real – it’s not an easy thing to do funk in a cool way because sometimes you can get a bit acid-jazz with it, but they don’t, they find some way to carry that across to a younger generation in a nice way, so I love what they do.”

I was looking back at your catalogue and one of the songs that stuck out as being a bit unusual for you guys was ‘Song 4 Mutya’. What’s the story behind that song?
Tom: “Strange moment! Yeah it was just one of those things that happens in the studio sometimes where you realise you’ve written a pop song, and you think, ‘well if I’m gonna go for that I might as well embrace it.’ And so: who was the poppiest singer we could think of, but also a bit naughty?

“She toured with us a bit, she was a bit naughty – she was a real handful, but fun. I liked her. She liked us, she was ok with us. But you could see her, she’d make life a nightmare for people around her sometimes. But I think she’s a great singer, she’s actually a brilliant singer. She really nailed it. It’s the one song my kids like – I’m not ashamed of it. We did a kind of acid-house version of that live, it was actually massive.

Andy: “You can get it on iTunes I think, Last Night In Brixton, the last recording of the live band, and the ‘Song 4 Mutya’ version’s on that. It’s a huge acid-house monster of… surprising origins.”

What other collaborations do you look back on fondly?
Andy: “The Neneh Cherry ones and the Richie Havens ones. He was just a diamond. We spent a lot of time with him and he was on the tour bus with us for a bit, and that whole period – there was a night at Brixton with him when we did a version of ‘Going Back To My Roots’ piano thing, his version, and then went into a kind of tribal outro that he was going for. It was, as a musician, one of the defining moments of my life.

Who are you still in touch with?
Tom: “Neneh. Cameron, who’s her husband, is the producer of Massive Attack stuff. We’re still in touch with that lot a lot.
Andy: Richie Havens has died of course.
Tom: Those lot are probably the ones we’re still in touch with.
Andy: I dunno what happened to Mutya!

How about ‘At The River’ and its M&S association?
Andy: “That was unfortunate, but you know, some of these things slip through the net, don’t they. I didn’t notice at all because I don’t live in the UK so I started getting text messages saying, ‘delicious slice of buttery something-or-other with treacle’ and I was thinking ‘what’s all this about?’ and then finally cottoned on.”

Tom: “This stuff comes around, eventually people forget about it, and then people revisit the song. And it’s one of those songs, I can still remember when we made it and the scene that we made it in, and that set-up was so much the antithesis of M&S, that’s good, you know?”

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