As part of Manchester Academy’s celebration of their 25 year
anniversary the legendary Megadog party series returns to Manchester on
Saturday 21st November with guests Dreadzone, Eat Static and System 7. Ahead of the show we caught up with head honcho Michael
Firstly can you tell us how Megadog started and how you
began putting on parties?
Megadog started in 1985 as a weekly multimedia club night
based in North London that was known as Club Dog. The club ran every Friday
between September and June for 7 years and was based around trying to recreate
the vibe of the free festivals that we and many of our audience went to over
the summer months. We featured an eclectic range of bands initially drawn from
the space rock, psychedelic and reggae scenes prevalent at the festivals, along
with performances by visual performance artists as well as the odd film
screening and theatre performance. All this took place in a venue that we
completely covered with hangings, false ceilings and projection screens lit
with psychedelic oil wheels and cine film loops. As time went on, we expanded
the music styles and range of bands that we booked to include world music, all
kinds of experimental weirdness and eventually, the new and fast-growing live
electronic music scene of the early 1990’s. In 1991 we started promoting
occasional events at a bigger venue in North London, which we called ‘Megadog’
to delineate them from our weekly club night. Megadog eventually became a
well-attended regular monthly event in it’s own right and consequently we stopped
running the weekly Club Dog in 1992. In 1993 we were invited to host the UK’s
first live electronic music tour which was known as the Midi Circus. The
success of this tour and the solid support that we had at our monthly London
event led to us putting together a touring show, which in various forms we
toured all over the UK, across Europe and eventually in the US and Japan as
well throughout the rest of the 1990’s.
What is your inspiration and vision behind Megadog, what do
your parties represent?
The vision for Megadog was to combine the best of the live
electronic music scene, with an upfront and eclectic DJ soundtrack, circus
performance, state of the art lighting and a high standard of decor production
to create a kind of travelling ‘psychedelic circus’. In the early 1990’s, the
(live music) gig scene and the DJ-based dance scene were generally separate
entities. We felt that there were lots of gig fans who liked dance music but
didn’t feel comfortable going to ‘hip’ clubs or raves and lots of dance music
fans who were looking for something a little more engaging than just dancing to
DJ’s all night! The Midi Circus tour showed us that there was an interest out
there for this sort of grand-scale electronic cabaret and that by bringing the
show to people’s local venue rather than making them travel to their nearest
big city, we seemed to inspire a genuine party vibe amongst our audiences who
looked forward to the psychedelic circus coming to their town. If Megadog
represented anything at all, it was that like the free festivals that had
originally inspired us, the essence of a memorable and uplifting event is the
people who are there - musicians, performers, technical crew and audience. Each
of us relied on and required all the others to be there to make it feel special
and for us, it was never about bigging-up ‘Superstar DJ’s’ and wannabe
Megadog returns to Manchester Academy in celebration of the
venues 25th Anniversary on November 21st. What can we expect from the night?
Hopefully, a faithful recreation of the Megadogs of the
1990’s! A combination of live bands, DJ’s and visual performance coupled with
venue decor on a grand scale and a spectacular lighting and video show. Not
forgetting of course, the fantastic ‘up for it’ vibe that the audience could
always be relied upon to bring with them.
How important has Manchester Academy been in the history of
Megadog, what has been one of your favourite shows that you have put on at the
Though we were always based in London and our regular
monthly show there was hugely popular, the regular monthly shows in Manchester
became a kind of ‘spiritual home’ for us. The fantastic atmosphere and vibe
that the Manchester audience brought with them was unique and that in turn,
inspired us to keep trying to put together top class shows. So the Manchester
Academy shows were for us, hugely important and some of the most memorable of
the hundreds that we did. There were so many ‘favourite’ shows because there
was such a brilliant array of artists to choose from, many of whom were doing
their best work at that time. One of my personal favourites was the show we did
with The Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia, one of the most original and creative
electronic live acts of that era.
The party series was a formidable force during the 1990’s
and was a night that was never afraid to move ahead of the times and push
boundaries. Do you think taking risks paid off?
I don’t think we ever thought that we were taking risks! We
just programmed the sorts of shows that we’d like to see ourselves and they
seemed to always be the sorts of shows that other people wanted to see too.
You have had everyone from Underworld, System 7 and Aphex
Twins all headline your shows, who would be your dream headliner?
We were consciously trying to offer a change from the
traditional ‘headline’ and ‘support band’ rock music scenario, so we never
really saw it that particular bands were the ‘headliners’. We only put bands
into our shows that we believed in ourselves, so they were in essence, all
headliners. Of course, some bands were better known than others and SOMEBODY
always had to play first, but for us, everyone who appeared was an important
part of the show that they appeared in.
In fact, the worst people that we worked with were the ones that
really did think that THEY were the headliners and that the audience was only
there to see THEM! Following on from that, I doubt that I could think of a
‘dream’ headliner as such, but the nearest thing to that would be to put
together a bill featuring some of the great bands that we worked with that have
since split up. Psychick Warriors of Ov Gaia, Spooky, Earth Nation, Drum Club
and Children of the Bong would be quite a nice lineup!
You must have seen a lot of changes in electronic dance
music over the years, what has been the one that has made the biggest impact?
The rise and rise of David Guetta, Calvin Harris and
EDM.....but not in a good way!
Can you tell us one of your favourite Megadog memories?
Looking down at the dancefloor from the balcony at a gig in
Hull whilst The Aphex Twin was playing full pelt madness onstage and Haydn our
lighting designer seemed to have turned every strobe in the room up to ’11’ to
match the mayhem coming from the stage. I glanced at one of the PA stacks and
there was a guy with his top off, hugging the speaker stack in absolute
ecstasy, with his head actually inside one of the speaker horns. We used to get
quite an enthusiastic sort of audience!
What does the future hold for Megadog?
A regular schedule of tours of retirement homes playing to
old ravers in the 2030’s and 2040’s!
Is there anything you would like to say to all your loyal
party goers that have supported the shows throughout the years?
Absolutely. A million thank you’s to everyone who supported
us over all of those years. The people who came to the shows WERE the shows and
without them, there would have been no point in us being there. We wouldn’t
have kept on doing Megadog for so many years had it not been for the fantastic
and loyal support that we got from so many lovely people.
MEGADOG – SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21st 2015 @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY
Live performances from System 7, Dreadzone and Eat Static