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Pressing the play button, involuntary stage diving, and the dangers of interacting with the audience. A chat with the Trance rockers known as McCoy’s S.U.N. Project
Rob: Live Act – An extremely popular term that is, let‘s say, open to interpretation… Is it actually possible to play electronic Trance music live?
McCoy: Well, if you‘re in studio and you have a title with 80 audio tracks, than you‘d probably need 80 guys on stage to really play it live. Of course that‘s not possible. We have some live instruments, which means hand-played instruments: An electronic guitar, e-drums, and of course SLAG‘s legendary „Trigger Finger“, which allows us to add effects to our audio tracks in real-time.
SLAG: We stick to 2 or 3 live musicians, but as you might know there‘s other projects who have way more people on stage. In the end it depends on your concept as a group. For us, the computer is not only a medium, but a band member. We humanize it, and sometimes we alienize it. I‘m currently trying to pierce it, but it still tries to resist. Well, I tried to freak it out and said we‘ll replace him with a CD – but then I thought: Maybe we should just pay him more? After all, he‘s a legend!
Rob: Looking at any festival line-up this summer, there‘s more live acts than anything else…
McCoy: It‘s a sad story, but I guess 95% of those guys are laptoppers. Pushing the play button on their laptop is pretty much the only thing that happens „live“ – it‘s just like starting a CD player. If you ask us, that‘s not what “live” is about. Actually we are still wondering why the term “live” became established for this kind of performance at all.
SLAG: I could tell you some really funny stories, about what people do, or dare to do, just to look important and cool on stage. There‘s some nice videos out there that show exactly what certain “live acts” are doing. Funny shit, check it out! But actually it‘s sad. Sometimes it‘s not easy to see whether that dude on stage is doing something “live” or not. Some artists set up loads of equipment, but in the end it‘s just playback. I guess everybody has to decide what‘s still fair, and what not. People often ask me if I play live, because I don‘t have any cable plugged into my guitar. I use a wireless transmitter.
Rob: Speaking of your guitar – You played countless shows over the years. Has there ever been a moment when you maxed it out, when you were hauled out of your comfort zone?
SLAG: Absolutely, yes. Especially the Trigger Finger is sometimes a little problematic. Depending on the monitor situation, depending on how good I can hear myself, I sometimes just come in too late. Interactions are even more critical: Sometimes I jump off the stage, into the audience, where I grab a random person and invite people to interact. Sometimes that goes terribly wrong. Some people get really euphoric, they are all of a sudden on a mission, when they realize that they can really manipulate the sound. These guys try out random keys – or you don‘t have one hand, but many hands on the controller all of a sudden… [laughing]. Oh yeah, too dark sunglasses – they can cause involuntary stage diving. Looks super funny, I‘ve seen it on various smartphones after the show. Nice way to get in touch with the audience, that‘s for sure.
Rob: Exactly how does your preparation for a live act of McCoy‘s S.U.N. Project look like? Do you rehearse?
SLAG: We try to optimize everything, to get a maximum of energy out of our show – that includes the selection of songs, the arrangement during the set… it‘s all about kicking people‘s asses, about creating a really catchy Goa groove. However, it‘s important not to make it too complex – that‘s a major reason for problems on stage. We really focus on the live show, we try to implement new elements all the time.
McCoy: When we set our instruments on fire – that‘s a thing we rehearse every now and then. Just to avoid any serious fire on stage. Actually that‘s exactly what happened in Belgium one night… well, but the decoration was hanging really low.