‘By 1991 this underground sound was assaulting the mainstream pop charts. Despite virtually no radio play, the rave scene hurled anthem after anthem into the Top 20. With its raw futurism, coded lingo and blatant drug references, this hardcore rave music was as shocking and alienating to outsiders as punk had been.’
– Simon Reynolds ‘Generation Ecstacy’
DAVID: I wrote Kill Climate Deniers at the same time as chewing through ‘Generation Ecstacy’, Simon Reynolds account of the early rave era, the rise of Chicago House and Detroit Techno, and the subsequent explosion of those genres into a whole subculture of music, fashion, dancing and drugs.
It happens that the rise of House and Techno in the late 80s / early 90s coincides exactly with the emerging public awareness of what was first known as the Greenhouse Effect, then Global Warming – what we now call climate change – and the appearance of the climate denial movement in opposition to efforts to counter it.
Coincidence or otherwise, Kill Climate Deniers was written to the tune of some classic hits from the early rave era. Here is a small selection of some of the most potent bangers that fuelled the creation of the show.
Shut Up And Dance – Raving I’m Raving (1992)
DAVID: I love that this got to #2 in the charts, more or less a few weeks after Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis came out, before the lawyers got involved. It’s such a blatant, flagrant fuck you kinda theft. I would, yes I would, lose my shit if this were played out on a dancefloor here and now. ‘But do I really feel the way I feel?’
New Order – Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix) (1995)
REUBEN: Yes it’s *that* acid techno riff, made famous by its appearance in the 1998 film Blade, and by Public Domain’s “Bass In The Place” version. I reckon this version is far superior though, due to its relentless repetition and punishing length. My working title for the album track “w3 w3lcome the future” was jokingly “Cyber Leather” – evidence that those Blade/Matrix aesthetics and big distorted kick drums have been stuck in the back of my head since my teens.
Inner City – Big Fun (1986)
DAVID: This came out in 1986 in Detroit, then became a massive smash hit in the UK two years later. I just feel a lot of feelings listening to this.
Black Box – I Don’t Know Anybody Else (1990)
REUBEN: Like their first single Ride On Time, the title is based on a misheard lyric and the vocal sample led to legal troubles. I recently found this single on 7” so I’ve been enjoying it slowed down at 33rpm too. Ditto David’s comments on Ride On Time really – it just feels so good. The piano parts in Bolted are definitely an homage.
The Happy Mondays – Hallejulah (club remix) (1989)
DAVID: I’m a sucker for the rave piano any day of the week, and when those keys come in over that headnodding drumbeat, I cannot help but smile.
Paul van Dyk – For an Angel (1994)
REUBEN: The dense/sparse dynamic is equally as important as the loud/soft one. I dig that trance style where delay/echo effects on the synth lines gradually fill up all the space and create a kind of rhythmic glittering at the peak.
S-Express – Theme from S’Express (1988)
DAVID: ‘Enjoy this trip. Enjoy this trip. And it is a trip.’ This is just so cheap, so trashy, so careless, and equally so blazingly good. If you’re gonna have to shoot activists who are violently protesting for a greener planet (never say never), this is what you want playing on the stere.
Haddaway – What Is Love (1993)
REUBEN: The vocal, the bass, the staccato arpeggio, the organ – almost every element in this song is a hook! Furthermore they’re arranged in uncluttered fashion; each has it’s own time and space to shine before tagging out for the next hook to enter.
The Prodigy – Hyperspeed (G-Force Part 2) (1992)
DAVID: The Prodigy’s first album is a total rush, start to finish – all these surging highs and then sudden unexpected – but totally ideal – lurching changes of direction and speed. The way this track just climbs, plateaus, climbs, plateaus, again and again, and then finally, finally drops – hits me like nothing else.
2 Unlimited – No Limit (1993)
REUBEN: This track always makes me feel hyped, perhaps in large part due to the ~140 beats-per-minute tempo, especially if I’ve been listening to typical house music which usually sits at around 120bpm. That huge one-finger-on-the-keyboard synth riff is so wonderfully simple and bone-headed, like a pub-rock riff, I love it.
Black Box – Ride on Time (1989)
DAVID: The whole play was written in homage to this song. I feel like this is the reigning anthem for whatever nation I subscribe to. Nothing says euphoria to me like that incredible Italo-disco piano riff and Loleatta Holloway’s illegally sampled vocals – this makes me feel better about being a human and it makes me feel good about our future. And time won’t take my love away.
M.I.A. – Galang (2003)
REUBEN: This is the odd one out in this list, but it definitely fed into the rhythms of the track Music to Shoot Climate Activists To, which perhaps unsurprisingly is the odd one out on the album.