If I’m keeping it a buck, when I had the first ideas for this particular drum & bass website, a story about David Bowie hitting the site this early (or at all) never crossed my mind. It’s not that I’m unaware of David Bowie’s love for the drum & bass scene; he was down at The Note, even apparently making sure his name was first on the legendary Metalheadz night’s guest list, every week. He was even featured on Goldie’s song “Truth” off of the dnb don’s sophomore album Saturnz Return, which dropped a year after Bowie’s 1997 album Earthling, which its self experimented with dnb (although I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through songs like “Little Wonder”). Goldie and Bowie became friends, even starring in a deeeeeeep cut gangster film from 1999 together, and both seemed to rock with Dom & Roland, the legendary producer who has released music on many of the scene’s biggest labels, including Metalheadz to 31 Records to Renegade Hardware, crafting some of the finest drum & bass, well…ever.
It all started on DOA…
As with many of the dnb scene’s most random/interesting stories, it all started on Dogs On Acid. Now, keep in mind, while I’ve clocked many hours on the big black message board, I have since been dwindling my time down to a few times on a week; it doesn’t move nearly as fast as it did in its heyday, but the conversation I’m looking for is mostly about new mixes or new tunes. Over the weekend, I randomly hit the site and saw Intro of Dom & Roland – Can’t Punish Me, which had developed into a three-page thread about the first 22 seconds of one of Dom’s seminal tunes. It’s as if the tune (or Roland?) is trying to figure out where it should begin on its own, playing around with pads and patterns before settling on the epic, crispy drums and unsuspecting intro. “Can anyone explain why he included that part when he released the song?” was the question posed, which bothered me on the low. Why? I mean I love the tune, but the intro is…well let me just share what I wrote about said intro on a few beers and little sleep:
I dunno, I love the intro to this tune. It’s raw, like a drummer doing a quick fill or drum roll before the band kicks off a song. It’s almost like Dom is alerting you that ONE OF THE GREATEST BANGERS IN THE DNB SCENE OF ALL TIME was arriving, so you should prepare. Then you do. Then your entire fucking face is blown off. And you cry bc its beautiful. Then you run it back and try to time hand movements to the random drums at the beginning.
Or was that just me when “Can’t Punish Me” finally dropped?Dogs On Acid, July 2020
What the hell does this have to do with Dom and Bowie?
I was getting to that, sheesh. OK so at this point, I was at the bottom of what I already explained to be a three-page thread. I have a habit of not really going through a whole ass thread if I read the OP and have some thoughts. I was bored (and getting a lil tips) and decided to scroll up, where I found Dom NOT talking about the intro of this 20-year-old gem of his but sharing a story that he mentioned he’s “forever telling”, a point which was proven a page earlier via a screenshot of tweets from March 2019, featuring Thys (Noisia, Dotcrawl) sharing a very interesting Bowie tidbit related to “Can’t Punish Me”.
“The people in the office at Moving Shadow used to always be on the wind up,” Dom’s story began, mentioning that it was very common for Steve Jackson to prank call people from Kiss FM on the phone. Dom said that the week earlier, the folks at Moving Shadow had tricked him into thinking that a gay UK magazine was asking for an interview, but they’d need to know if he could dress up in leather. (I hate the way that sounds, BTW, but it’s interesting to have Dom admit that he “fell into their trap and could hear them all laughing on the other end of the phone” due to him being “quite naive”.)
If you don’t get to the David Bowie phone call already…
CHILL! Here’s the rest of the story, from Dom himself:
Next week I got a call from David Bowie saying he loved ‘Can’t Punish Me’. I told him to “fuck off” and hung up the phone. The label then rang to say, “We just gave David Bowie your number and apparently you told him to go do one, why did you do that?” (no laughing)
Long story short, David rang me back and we had a giggle about wind ups and a little chat about what inspired us both day to day to make music. He was very easy to talk to, spiritual, and funny, he seemed genuinely excited to be talking to me and asked me questions about drums….specifically how he liked dnb tunes where the snare was as punchy as the kick!
It turns out David used to own the building where the Moving Shadow office and studios were. I later found out my studio was Davids writing room.
I only talked to him that time, but it will be a conversation I shall always cherish.Dogs On Acid, July 2020
The weirdest part about all of this, now that I’ve gone through all three pages of this thread, is that no one seems to mention how, back in April 2020, Dom’s Dom & Roland Productions imprint (which has been dropping some SICK remasters), re-released “Can’t Punish Me” on vinyl with the 1998(!) Dubplate Version of “Can’t Punish Me” released on the flipside. (Ed note: Vinyl’s been sold out, but you can still grab the release via Bandcamp.) Kind of surprised that no one addressed this in the thread, although I made sure to inquire about the shifts that went down between the ’98 dubplate and the final.
So what’s the moral of this story? Well, if you weren’t already aware, David Bowie was such a drum & bass fan that he got a hold of Dom’s number just so he could big him up for a massive tune. Also kind of wish this conversation had happened earlier; hell, if Dom had been in Bowie’s good graces prior to Earthling, one has to wonder if Dom could’ve gotten in there and made Bowie an epic drum & bass opus.
And as a random addendum to David Bowie’s continued journey into the land of dnb, it’s amazing to me that the re-release of Dillinja’s “Fun” mix earlier this year seemed to signal to me that Dillinja had some plans for 2020, but it never made me wonder how deep Bowie’s love for the scene truly was.
Bonus Beats Dom & Roland “Delta”, taken from his awe-inspiring Lost in the Moment album from earlier this year (aka one of the first albums that really hit me during early quarantine). The intro for this tune might be easier to digest, but the tune is just as filthy as “Can’t Punish Me”. Tune this one UP.