Loaded Magazine’s music article.

April 1996 Article from

Loaded

NOW YOU’RE DEERSTALKIN’


Justin Robertson of Lionrock is the mane man

“If I’m mistaken, Watson, I’ll retire and keep bees in Sussex!” Sherlock Holmes, eh! Remember that old sleuth? The gent with an elementary line of thought, unravelling the threads of Victorian skulduggery, doing opium and putting the boot in with his soul-mate Watson?

Can’t say I do, really, but when it comes to role models, Manchester-based DJ Justin Robertson is the obsessive Holmes boy. He’s read the books, admires the cut of Sherlock’s gentlemanly gib, and even has a deerstalker; something for those personal moments, sitting on his favourite part of the sofa, listening to records in front of the fire.

But unlike a lot of today’s jocks who are earning wheelbarrow-loads of cash, Justin doesn’t have to look at the flyers to remember how to spell his own name. With 10 years of service behind the decks, his creative marbles have remained intact despite the perils of nightlife. The founder of Manchester’s legendary Spice, the Sunday night session born five years ago in the small Richfields club, he also spun a cutting edge mix of varied dance music, continuing the spirit of getting yourself completely “trousered” with his next venture, the now long deceased and greatly revered Most Excellent.

So with all this graft under his belt, and DJs supposedly being the nearest thing to Adonis a lady can pull in a night-club, is there a Robertson junior in every county?

“Well, I used to sit and listen to other DJs trading groupie stories of bizarre sexual encounters in hotel rooms, and I would have this puzzled look on my face thinking, nothing like that has ever happened to me. Though recently in Newcastle a girl did climb into the DJ box and ask: ‘Are you with your lass tonight… No… why don’t you get-off with uz then?’

“I think what’s happening now is that I’m reaching a certain stage of baldness where I’ve changed from being ‘hey you bald bastard’ to ‘hey sexy bald man’ Why don’t you play handbag house, that’s where all the totty seems to be?

“Once I’ve got my rock’n’roll band on the road … Phwoaaaar-Pa. Handbag DJs, eat my dust!”

Talk about playing your dirty trump card. Apart from remixing big name acts like Bjork, New Order, The Shamen, Inspiral Carpets, Erasure and others since 1992, Justin has been making his own singles under the guise of Lionrock, the title borrowed from an LP by a band called Culture while Justin was desperately searching for a name to write on his first test-pressing. Since then a handful of singles have followed, with Lionrock’s debut album, An Instinct For Detection, released this month.

What we have here is the perfect LP for a bit of home-dancing. Just add two tins of beer and spliff and you’re away. Driven by the guitar-lead hip hop of tracks like ‘Fire Up The Shoesaw’ to the cool hustler funk and camera clicks of ‘Snapshot On Pollard Street, and the techno fry-up of ‘Death Valley Clapperboard’, the mutations of breakbeats, dub bass lines, techno, guitar riffs and electronic effects will keep you up for hours. It’s all topped by the cool spoken word of MC Buzz B’s down-to-earth vision, full of venom and sparing us the spaced-out, X-Files type of futurism currently plaguing dance music.

“I suppose Brit-Hop isn’t a bad description of what we do… but out of all the musical movements, I’ve liked punk, acid house, and the mod thing. They’re about living in towns and cities and that kind of urban reality. A lot of the Lionrock stuff is about living in Manchester and not outer space or singing about raising your arms in the air. That shit is not what people experience. Electronic music really excites me but it gets abused a bit too much by too many nerdy kids. We’re not living on Mars”

Back on planet clubs, when Lionrock perform live it comes as a shock to see two live guitars in what has grown into a five-piece dance band. Justin, who plays the lead guitar, has been secretly nurturing this mutant skunk-like plant of a band, who are now ready to spread mental havoc in the current Megadog club tour. They step beyond the average DAT and dancing girls outfit, with a bassist, keyboard player, Roger Lyons, the effects man, and MC Buzz B.

But how does a DJ/producer end up playing the guitar in a band? Shouldn’t he be twiddling knobs on some box of tricks and making squiggly noises in the background?

“I’ve actually been playing the guitar for years and have been in bands at school since I was 17 (10 years ago matey), one of which was 3 Days And A Wetsuit. We had a surf-sound, a kind of Dick Dale meets The Ramones and The Smiths with all our songs being about skateboarding and girls”

Saved from the obscurity of pub gigs by the forces of acid house, the past guitar experience has resurfaced in the adventures of Lionrock. The music has also come to the attention of famed spoon- bender, Uri Geller. “We’ve written this track, ‘Awkward Man’, about this guy who hangs around shopping centres, harasses people, spray paints on the front of shops and attacks policemen” It contains the lyric ‘he bends spoons like Uri Geller’ to describe the way the mad bloke decimates everything he touches.

“He wants to use the music for one of his magic shows… maybe he’s a bit of a groover. There’s a lot of old people out and about on the acid house scene. But I’m down with Uri. He’s cool”

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