Separate but Equal

The obvious tension between the members leads inevitably to questions about the future. While del Naja claims that the group will continue to operate as Massive Attack, the band's declared truce sounds closer in theory to solo records. Given that each member seems to have different ideas about the band's sound, future releases will most likely have distinctly individual songs. "I'm sure we'll make another Massive Attack record in a different way. I think we've realized that we are all very different and there is no point in trying to blur the edges any more," he muses. "It's better to let people have the edges and exploit them musically. I think the fact that I was belligerent on this album will encourage everyone else to do the same on the next album."

The next album isn't even in the planning stages, as the band gets set to open its American tour in Miami. Massive Attack was originally scheduled to tour with the Verve (another band with a questionable future), a bill that promised to make it the essential show of the summer. But after sluggish ticket sales caused some concerts to be moved to smaller venues, and tension in both bands became impossible to ignore, Massive Attack went its own way. "It seems that [the Verve] has a lot of things they've got to sort out in their band, and we've got a lot of personal issues we've got to sort out in our band," del Naja admits. "It just seemed like a bad combination of too many sparks."

Sparks are sure to fly when Massive Attack uses the show to reinvent its songs. "We get bored with the tracks, so we rearrange them, play different parts, change the lyrics," explains del Naja. "We've done almost 60 shows already this year. I came off [the European leg of the] tour and I was so bored. I wanted to [record] a B-side for the new single just to make things interesting. One, because I wanted to record some new material because I was writing things while we were touring, and two, because it means we've got a new song to play live for the rest of the year."

While the remainder of 1998 is pretty much planned out for the group (tour dates are already scheduled until Christmas), each nightly performance will find them experimenting with the music and set lists. Changing the songs includes cranking the volume and speeding up the tempos onstage, both of which stem from the group's original plan for the album. Unlike a lot of the somnambulistic shows provided by trip-hoppers, the Massive show is -- well, massive. "My vision was that you could play Mezzanine quietly, to just take in some of the moods and take in some of the textures. But then if you played it loud it would be kind of hard. I think by playing it loud over a big system, we get to show both sides of the story; that's really good fun. One of the reasons we're touring is that we get to present it in a different manner. We've got a more live approach, and I think it does the record justice when you listen to it at home and you hear us play it live. The experiences are different and you get the idea of why the album works on different levels. You get to exploit the energy more."

Massive Attack and opening act DJ Lewis Parker perform Thursday, September 3, at the Cameo Theatre, 1445 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; 305-532-0922. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.

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