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Altern 8 were arguably one of the biggest names in rave during the very early 90s. With their famous face mask and boiler suit get up as well as the quirky naming conventions used for their tunes, they were an act that stood out from the crowd, and helped pioneer the scene at that time.

They appeared on Top of the Pops and ran in the General Election; in short, they where completely bonkers, and just the kind of people needed to help Zoology celebrate its 5th Birthday. Original member Mark Archer and former MC; MkOne now make up Altern 8. In the run up to their set for us, I got the masses at HarderFaster to help me come up with some interview questions, threw a few in myself and here is Mark with the answers.

Where did the name come from?

The group was supposed to be called Alien-8, but when the label copies came back — it said Altern 8, so it stuck as that. The original idea came from a rock group that Chris was in at his school called alien-8 and he really liked the name, as it was just a side project — we just thought it would do.

How do you think today’s clubbing scene compares to the original rave scene?

I don’t really have a lot to do with today’s (meaning new music) at the moment as I’ve been playing the old skool circuit for a while and don’t get much chance to go clubbing. I did go to a club in Stoke called Reckless which was more of a funkier house night — really good atmosphere, very similar to the old skool vibe. But there is always more emphasis on fashion these days than there was back then. As far as music goes, I’ve always loved my techno and am more into the techier side of house, nothing too minimal; it’s got to have a tune to it.

You got up to all sorts of antics when you first started out, are there any stories that haven’t been told that you can share with us?

Most of them were covered really and there are obviously ones I can’t talk about! There was one instance in Ireland, in the early 90s, where the rest of the group were virtually kidnapped and told to play a set before they were released!! Lucky they didn’t carry all the gear round eh?

What’s the most memorable gig you’ve played?

It would have to be between an Amnesia house event at Donnington Park and New Years Eve, 1991, in Birmingham — both had huge crowds and were ace for different reasons.

What about the best venue you’ve ever played at?

There have been loads but Shelley’s was always a favourite place to play because of the home crowd.

Is there a place they haven’t yet played but would like to?

Never been to Australia — so wouldn’t mind going there.

What’s your favourite old skool tune?

Old skool means different things to different people. I guess ‘Release Yourself’ by Aleem is my fave. But if you’re talking rave era old skool then it would be Plus One — ‘It’s Happenin’.

Do you ever get bored of playing old material?

Never, I get the same buzz every time. I still get goose bumps when a tune drops and you see the crowd go off.

What djs make you dance?

Depends on where I am. Good dj’s can make you dance, however, the ones who can’t mix and clash beats make me stop. I’ve been dj’ing on an internet radio station for the last year called PirateRevival and most of the djs on there could definitely make you dance — well they do me anyway — they’re class.

What kind of events do you get booked for these days? Is it all old skool parties, apart from your upcoming Zoology set of course?

Yeah, mostly old skool events, or backrooms of other events, festivals, like the Glade festival where we played the Bangface tent (absolute class event) and the SonarSound festival in Japan, where we wore limited edition white suits with the Japanese flag on the back, that kind of thing, and Bangface in Islington — not strictly an old skool event — but an amazing place to play.

The little girl who said ‘top one, nice one, get sorted’, has she gone on to have her own solo career in the music industry? Do you know what she is up to now?

Nope, not seen her really since then, but I know that she’d be around 18 now — lol!

Hard dance has a habit of ripping off classics from back in the day. How come, luckily, none of your tunes have been rehashed by the hard dance community?

Don’t know but I’m glad.

What do you think of hard dance as a whole?

It’s really not my thing at all. I only tend to listen to what I like or what I think I will like, if you get me.

What kit did/do you use to make all your tunes?

Still got my Atari 1040 and a few bits of outboard gear, they still work... just about.

What kind of styles are you producing now? Do you have any new stuff in the pipeline?

I’ve done various stuff since Altern 8: house, US garage, nu skool breaks, drum and bass, some 80s inspired house and funkier stuff, what ever I’m into like. I’m doing a remix of a tune called ‘Quasar’ for Paul Blackford at the moment and have recently finished a remix of Unique 3’s ‘The Theme’. They’re in new techy kind of styles so that I can play them out, as I also dj new tunes as well as oldskool. I’ve been a bit quiet for the last two years as I’ve concentrated on the djing etc., but am getting back into the studio work big time now.

What kind of stuff will you be playing at Zoology’s 5th Birthday?

Classics from between 88 and 93, a few anthems and some forgotten faves.

Thanks for your time, we look forward to your appearance at Zoology.

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