Mention Meat Beat Manifesto, and talk of industrial music will soon follow. It’s a genre designation that’s followed Meat Beat closely since the project’s debut LP, 1989’s Storm the Studio, was released stateside courtesy of the seminal industrial label Wax Trax! Records.
As an industrial record, Storm the Studio possesses all of the hallmarks of the genre, including, but not limited to, the propulsion, the indignation, and the groovable beats over strained vocals about genocide and society’s ills. Yeah, it’s all there.
But even from the get-go, there’s always been more to Meat Beat, a quality that distinguishes great artists and records from the forgettable masses. In the case of Meat Beat, that distinct attribute is project mastermind and sole permanent member Jack Dangers’ ongoing quest to navigate every known realm of sound, in addition to those that might have yet to be thoroughly explored. Beginning with Storm the Studio and continuing with Meat Beat’s most recent release, January’s Impossible Star, Dangers has made use of the myriad styles in his arsenal — ranging from breakneck breakbeats to jazz numbers, with more than a healthy share of vocal and media samples to spruce up the proceedings — to fully map out all of the sonic possibilities of which Meat Beat is capable.
All of which is a long way of saying "industrial" doesn’t quite cut it when describing the nearly three decades’ worth of records the group has released since it was formed in 1987 in the United Kingdom.
“I would say it's electronic music,” Dangers tells New Times by phone from his San Francisco home. Although he acknowledges the profound influence of industrial pioneers such as Cabaret Voltaire and the abrasively experimental Throbbing Gristle, Dangers says he never conceived of Meat Beat as a straightforward industrial act.
“I was influenced by too many other things, like dub and hip-hop, stuff like that. But I would still say it has something in there, some industrial elements, but not out and outright,” Dangers says. “It's always been a bit confusing, but I would say it's electronic music, just like Kraftwerk is; what else would you call Kraftwerk? But even they have a little bit of industrial in them, don't they?”
When Dangers takes his unique brand of electronic music to the Ground Saturday, September 15, he’ll do so with the help of multimedia artist and longtime Meat Beat creative partner Ben Stokes. What’s more, despite having last performed in the Magic City 20 years ago at the now-long-gone South Beach venue Salvation with recent visitor Josh Wink, Dangers anticipates he and Stokes will be joined by a particularly devout group of Meat Beat followers.
“After the first time we came over in '89, I met the most voracious, rampant Meat Beat fans — to this day, I'm still in touch with some of them, who I hope to see at the show,” Dangers shares. Rightfully describing Florida as a “very... very interesting place,” he says next Saturday’s show will be not only his first in Miami in 20 years but also his first in the state since 2008.
However, the dearth of shows in Florida hasn’t stopped Dangers from visiting the Sunshine State, nor has it prevented him from growing fond of some of Miami’s more notable talents.
“My wife has a lot of family there, so I was just there a couple of weeks ago,” he explains. “So I've been there tons of times over the last 20 years. But I love it. I love playing there — the crowds are great. And we're playing with the local star Otto [Von Schirach, of the Bermuda Triangle], who I actually did a show with in Holland back in 2011. He's a wild and crazy guy, so that'll be great.”
The breadth of Dangers’ career and exploratory nature of his music have brought him into contact with several significant figures in sound beyond Miami’s bizarre cast of characters.
Notably, they include one of his musical heroes, the late David Bowie.
“It was weird picking the phone up and [hearing], 'Hello, it's David,’" Dangers recounts with a laugh. After being turned on to Dangers’ work by Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, Bowie sought Dangers out to collaborate on remix work.
“He had this pseudonym when he would check into hotels: Nelson George," Dangers says of Bowie. "[George] was a friend of his, this writer and musicologist in New York. So there he is walking down the escalator towards me, and the only thing I could think of saying was, ‘Oh, so you must be Nelson George!’"
Adding that he glimpsed a copy of Meat Beat’s 1992 record Satyricon next to Bowie’s bed, along with a saxophone and a carton of Marlboro cigarettes, Dangers says it was invigorating to collaborate with and receive acknowledgment from an artist who’d had such a profound impact on him.
“It’s inspiring. It reignites everything and gives you a kick up the arse getting approval from someone like that,” Dangers says, noting that moments like these have helped motivate him “to keep at it.”
A self-described “studio wart,” Dangers says 2018 has been a particularly fruitful year for him creatively. Another Meat Beat record is already in the can, and several projects are at various stages of completion.
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“I've been more inspired this year than I have been in like 20 years... and I don't know why,” he laughs.
According to Dangers, thanks to his record collection, the world’s dismal state of affairs, and his mild agoraphobia, he doesn’t anticipate being at a loss for ideas anytime in the near future.
“I'm more inspired if I just stay in here than go out at this point. You could just lock me in the studio for five years and I'll come out with 20 albums.”
Meat Beat Manifesto. With Otto Von Schirach and DJ Carlos Menendez. 8 p.m. Saturday, September 15, at the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-375-0001; thegroundmiami.com. Tickets cost $30 via tickefly.com.