Big Unit Big Unit… Measure/leisure/pleasure/treasure

Interview: Big Unit

Published on June 10th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams

When Rocksucker spoke to Peter Hook recently, he advised us to check out Big Unit, the new project of 808 State‘s Darren Partington, hailing them for “putting the fun back into music”. Well, we did, and we enjoyed their debut single “Get Fucked” so much that we just had to collar Darren, who describes the song as being about “everyone who’s ever pissed me off”, for more information…

Who’s in Big Unit?

It’s me on vocals; Ian Wild, who worked with The Stone Roses, on guitar; Ben Knott on keyboard, he worked with Happy Mondays; Chris Wilkinson, who’s been playing guitar for us for a year, our drummer Pablo and our percussionist Roufie. I wrote an album’s worth of lyrics about three years ago and I decided to form a band to do something with them. It was either going to be a series of children’s books or an album!

What can you tell us about the album at this stage?

It’s basically a picture of what it’s like now living in an inner city, whether it be Manchester, London, Newcastle or wherever. It’s from the perspective of a 40-year-old who’s been round the block a little bit. When Happy Mondays came around, kids wanted to be part of that sort of subculture, and I felt that sense of belonging in the rave scene; it’s that sort of gang mentality, we want people to get involved.

Our philosophy is that we’re not a rock and roll band – we’re not John, Paul, George and Ringo – we’re a sound system, we’re DJs, we’re producers. We’re not just musicians, you know, we don’t just wear leather pants and waistcoats. We’re speaking from the heart, writing songs about what it’s like to walk out your door and see people clashing, people jostling, kids being left on their own, that sort of thing.

It’s an inner city style for inner city people; it spreads it out there and educates people, so I believe I’m doing something right. I’ve got something to say, and I’ve got a band now so I’m going to say it very loudly!

When can we expect to hear more from Big Unit?

We’ll put a tour together and just sort of crack on, because we’re constantly writing; in the kitchen with a guitar and a book of lyrics, free and easy. It’s going to be a predominantly live thing, places like festivals where we can make our mark; when we do our stage show, it’s very punky but also very ravey. We’ve tagged our musical genre as acid rock, as it’s acid house and rock and roll. It’s not ‘indie dance’ or anything like that, it’s our own and we’ve titled it acid rock.

If you like dance music, going out clubbing and getting off your nut, or you like to go and see a proper rock and roll band, come and see Big Unit because we’ve got it all. Big Unit is a family, basically: it’s people who’ve known each other for twenty-five years, and believe it or not we’ve still got something to say. We’re not a bunch of kids who’ve just come out of university playing banjos, ukuleles and all that lot; we’re a proper band, d’you know what I mean? Big Unit had to happen, and it just so happened that I had the right friends around me with the right skills.

We supported The Fall at The Clapham Grand recently; it was a proper older crowd who knew their shit, and they got it, even they hadn’t heard anything we’d done before. If you can win a Fall crowd round, you can do anything!

We spoke to Peter Hook recently and he said he’d been trying to get you to put your stuff out on Hacienda Records…

Yeah, we might put a couple of EPs out. We’ve got a lot of respect for him, I like what he’s doing and I’ve been an avid fan of everything he’s done. He gets what we do, which is really cool. I’ve been telling him to get us as support for The Light, because it could work perfectly what with the demographic. We don’t have a bass player in the band so it would be cool if he came up onstage with us sometime.

Darren Partington, thank you.

808 State will play a live set at the FAC51 Haçienda night at the Coronet, London on June 21st – click here to join the Facebook event and here to buy tickets online.

For more information, please visit the official Big Unit website.

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About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.