Celebrating Old Skool Music, Culture and Legacy
Over a period of 30 years Awesome 3 have quite rightly earned their reputation as one of the best live PA’s on the scene, ensuring that every energetic performance connects with the crowd and leaves them wanting more.
With tunes like ‘Headstrong’, ‘Hard Up’, ‘Possessed’ and, of course, the seminal crowd-pleaser ‘Don’t Go’ in their arsenal they can’t fail to please.
The band has gone through a few different iterations over the years (more on that in a moment) but is currently comprised of Steve Gorton (producer and keys), Lynne Tait (vocals and DJ) and Leggo Dan (MC) and with the oldskool revival scene gathering more and more traction there’s never been a better time to catch them live.
Amongst the rave community they’ve secured a reputation as a no-nonsense, down-to-earth, approachable trio – happy to chill with the crowd after performances; sharing stories and posing for pics. In the process of writing this feature it’s easy to see why – during the course of our interview, Steve, Lynne and Leggo are welcoming, candid and ego-free – a pleasure to chat with…
So, let’s get started – who is everyone?
Leggo: I’m Leggo Dan, the MC of the band – I work the crowd.
Steve: I’m Steve and I’m the brains of the outfit. Not a lot of people know that we recorded ‘Don’t Go’ using back-engineered alien technology. We found it in a field on the way back from a gig at the Aberdeen Beach Ballroom. I was setting fire to Ady Moore’s socks when BOOM, a UFO crashed in a field. We took this hidden technology home with us back to my bedroom and back-engineered it with some duct tape and a Black & Decker power sander. Ady stole the stereo out of the UFO and has it in his transit van to this very day. True story.
Lynne: Did I mention Steve has dementia! Anyway, I’m Lynne – lead vocals and trying to keep these guys in check. Which sometimes is a near impossibility…
Steve: We started out as a crack CIA black ops unit working on using sound waves as part of a top secret mind control project but we fucked up and accidentally created a rave band. The CIA denied all knowledge of us. Shane Hughes was murdered by the KGB in 1992 so we replaced him with Pete Orme. Taitsy joined us in ‘93 to take over vocal and DJ duties. Wayne Allen & Ady Moore were kidnapped by North Korean agents around this time and are now working for the Honourable Peoples Government in the propaganda department. Don’t know how we ended up with Leggo – I think I just came down one morning for a bowl of Frosties and he was there sat in his undercrackers telling me he was in Awesome 3. I was too hungover to argue… Leggo is one of the best MCs in the game so we let him stay, Taitsy is an amazing DJ, and I practice playing with my organ 3 times a day.
Leggo: I actually joined the band by helping Lynne out for a gig in Hull that Awesome 3 was booked for. I had met Lynne at a radio show where we were both being interviewed. We ended up together a few times at different gigs and parties where I was on mic duties – mostly old skool rave and jungle. Over a few meetings I was able to show my skills in crowd control and connecting the bond that a DJ and audience thrive on. My style is Oldskool and I don’t forget what an MC is really for. I guess that’s why I was approached to join.
Steve: Leggo is the most important member of the band when it comes to playing live.
Lynne: Leggo is really easy going and just fitted in on how we like the 3 to be. I met Steve in ‘91 singing Man United songs in a pub in Wythenshawe. He was a bit outnumbered by City fans so I got up on the stage and chanted alongside him. That was my first Awesome 3 audition! ‘Don’t Go’ started with a few riffs on a keyboard on the floor of my council flat in Wythenshawe.
Steve: Yeah, Awesome 3 have always been a strange band – very non-conformist – but I suppose that’s what you get from a band started by football hooligans.
How did that come about?
Steve: I was signed to Deconstruction Records and released a few things on that label but by the end of 1989, beginning of 1990, I had been dropped and was looking for a new deal. Early in 1990 I came across a cheap studio in a squat in west Didsbury run by an old hippy called Mick Jones – cheap as in £3 an hour! I started bashing away in there through the spring of 1990. Anyway, one Saturday morning I’m getting my hair cut at the local barbers and a pal of mine called Ady Moore is sat there. We get chatting and I tell him I’m in this studio later and why doesn’t he come down. So I go to the studio and mid-afternoon there’s a knock at the door. I stop recording and open the door and stood there is a lad called Dave Johnson who I’ve met once before and a lad I’ve never seen before called Shane Hughes – apparently they had met Ady and he told them I was in the studio. They were a pair of wannabe DJs so I invited them in and a few hours later we’d made the demo of ‘Hard Up’. They knew Kenny Grigan who ran Spin In Records in Manchester so late Saturday afternoon we went down there to play him the tape. Steve Wolfe, head of A&R at A&M Records, was in the shop that afternoon who told us he loves the tune and we are signing to his label on the following Monday!
So the make-up of the band has changed over the years…
Lynne: The make-up has changed quite a bit. Shane left the band and was replaced with Pete Orme. I was doing PA duties although I wasn’t the original vocalist. We disbanded in ‘96 and all went off to do separate projects – Steve and I signed to Planet 4 records producing Drum and Bass. Then, a few years back, I was asked if we could do PAs at a few nights I was going to so me and Steve reformed what is now today’s Awesome 3, although Steve had done some solo projects as Awesome 3.
Steve: Like Lynne said, the line-up has had changes. Wayne Allen came in to cover vocals on ‘Freedom of Life’ and the previously mentioned Ady Moore covered the vocal duties on ‘Possessed’ but me and Lynne have been the mainstay for the last 25 years – we’ve played all over the world and done well over a thousand live PAs. Pete Orme is still part of the gang but he does his own thing as Awesome 3 DJ. In my opinion the present line-up of the band is the best and strongest line-up we’ve ever had and we’re planning to get back in the studio in the autumn to record some new material.
Great news! What kind of sound?
Steve: Nuskool breaks and maybe an album – gonna see how we get on with a new single first.
Leggo: With dutty stinking low-down rib-shaking bassline.
Steve: Was thinking more folk guitar with a bit of kazoo.
You were there right at the beginning and witnessed the move from warehouse parties to huge legal arena raves – did that change the vibe at all?
Steve: Yeah, the vibe went from council-estate scally to posh kids in cocktail dresses! You look at the crowd in our ‘Hard Up’ video then look at the crowd at Cream four years later… totally different vibe. The great thing about this huge oldskool revival today is that it’s those scally kids who’ve grown up so you’ve got that same vibe back – the dress-down, not-care, just-dance vibe.
How did each of you discover the rave scene?
Steve: I was one of the first people in Britain to release a house / rave track under the name Frequency 9 in 1987. I had a TR-808, TR-909 and SH-101 long before they were trendy. I was a synth geek who came out of the new wave / futurist movement of the late 70s, early 80s. I got into the whole electro and hip-hop scene from 82 to 85 then when I heard the early Chicago house stuff in 86 it just made perfect sense and wasn’t a million miles away from the stuff I was writing.
Leggo: From being into hip-hop and electro I went into House music but proper House – original Chicago dance music – then I progressed into Hardcore which is Oldskool now. I fell in love with the Jungle sound that was forming because of the samples of Reggae and funk/soul. With my musical roots coming from a Caribbean background of Jamaican sound systems and steel bands Jungle took me home and I still love it.
Lynne: My first experience of the scene was when my mate’s brother had a maisonette in Hulme – they converted the top floor into a dance floor and had DJs on till 8am. It became known as the Hacienda after-party as back then the Hacienda closed at 2am. A few of the DJs went on to play at the Hac and other Manchester clubs. We used go to Aldi on a Saturday morning and buy loads of cheap beer and sell it at two quid a can! It went on to become known as Epping Walk and the Kitchen. Shaun Ryder even attended.
Steve: Yeah, the Kitchen was mad… pretty edgy.
Lynne: But a big part of Manchester underground music at the time.
Steve: We were a big part of the “Madchester” scene though we get little credit for it. We were at the forefront of the illegal rave scene putting on raves in south Manchester through 90/91 including our famous “hole in the wall” rave, which was a bit like Woodstock – everybody swears they were there but in reality it was probably 150/200 kids off their tits – including a couple of Happy Monday’s and at least one Stone Roses – yet I’ve met probably a thousand people who swear they were there! The reason we never get mentioned as part of “Madchester” is because we refused to kiss ass to the faux post-Hacienda luvvies. A lot of the northern rave bands believe in their own legend status much more than anybody else does so we’ve always fitted in better with the Essex crowd. We don’t take ourselves too seriously – you won’t see any of us wearing leather trousers and Cuban heels. Even today we’re still non-conformists – we do our own thing and we get respected for our no-dramas way of operating. You’ll never see the Awesome 3 having a hissy fit or diva moment.
You must see a lot of other PAs playing at old skool events – who do you admire?
Leggo: I think we all have favourites and we shouldn’t really but you can’t help getting on with some better than others. I’ll let Steve and Lynne mention theirs first…
Lynne: For me personally I like the southern vibes like Ratpack, SL2 and Two Bad Mice. I love the music but it’s more down to their humble and down-to-earth attitudes to be honest. I always have a good laugh with those guys. They’re people that have achieved great heights in this scene yet remain so grounded. I have so much respect for them.
Leggo: I actually agree with Lynne but I’ve got a few others like K Klass and Baby D. My hat also goes off to Shades of Rhythm and I’m a big Ratpack fan.
Lynne: Shades are a good live PA, no arguments there – I’d say one of the best in fact. But on a personal level, SL2… never a dull moment and great guys who’ve always got time for people.
Leggo: Yeah… SL2, Ratpack and Awesome 3 are people’s bands. Never too busy to talk to fans and ravers. There’s nothing I love more than raving it up, talking to people at the bar, the thanks for taking a photo and the response when we get on the stage and smash it out for the ravers.
Lynne: Although one memory sticks in my head from back in the day. We were on with N-Joi and Amen. N-Joi has some numpty with a huge ego and a serious attitude miming vocals on ‘Anthem’. Then Amen performed ‘Passion’ and wow… the vocalist blew me away – talk about goosebumps! Backstage, in the dressing room, I got chatting with her and she was an amazingly humble lady. To this day I don’t know what her name is, just that she was the original vocalist. That was back in ‘93 in Wigan.
From your viewpoint on stage what’s the maddest thing you’ve witnessed at a rave?
Steve: I can’t say I remember too much happening in the crowd although I once had a flask of hot chocolate thrown at me in Scotland – it exploded behind me. Fuck knows who brings a flask of hot chocolate to a rave… Another time we ended up chilling with an IRA unit after a gig somewhere just over the border in the north of Ireland!
Lynne: Yeah, that was a mad one in Ireland – the club had two open fires blazing away and it was the middle of summer. And getting asked for my autograph in Bowlers by three guys in 93 and my head fell off. I asked them why the hell do you want that I’m just a kid from Wythenshawe.
Any gigging disasters?
Steve: I once had a gig on New Year’s Eve in Glasgow – we was due on stage at 12. We left Manchester in horrendous weather in a two car convoy, the driving conditions were terrible. We finally get to Glasgow around 11pm – the club is deserted, not a car in the car park. Nothing happening, all locked up, banging and kicking the door for ages. Eventually a guy opens the door to inform us that we’re 12 hours late and that it was a kiddy rave at dinner time. Unfortunately, Mr Dave Johnson didn’t know which was 12pm and which was 12am. I looked Dave square in the eye and said “you’re a cunt”, got back in my car and drove back to Manchester! Also, I had a gun put to my head once in Dundee when a promoter didn’t want to pay us. He said “what happens if I shoot you” and I replied “you’ll still have to pay Dave & Shane”. He laughed, called me the cheekiest cunt he’d ever met and then paid us!
Leggo: One of the worst was being escorted by gun point from a club to a blues party to play an after party. This was in the early 90’s when I was making a name for myself and my DJ crew. One of the gangs that was in the club had enjoyed themselves that much that they took a disliking to the 2am finish and decided to wait for us outside. They politely gave us an option of playing their after party or losing all our records and having a trip to hospital. I could say a lot more but I won’t. My love of music and entertaining people saw us through some stuff!
What do you love about what you do?
Lynne: It’s a total privilege to be a part of an era that I doubt will ever be forgotten. I love it when I see people on that dancefloor giving it large and all their stresses or political beliefs get left at the door. It’s like an escapism for a lot of people and through it I discovered a place I truly belonged. I consider myself truly blessed indeed.
Steve: I like the money!
Leggo: The best thing for me is knowing that I’ve entertained. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s when I’m on the mic spitting bars or just actually talking to the crowd and they respond. I love when I’m at a bar or shop, or walking on or off stage, and I hear “yes Leggo” or “easy Dan”. People tell me what night I was at and what a great time they had. I love when younger ones come up to me and say they can’t believe I’m still smashing it and that their parents talk about me all the time. I love playing tunes to the older generation too – tunes that I shouldn’t even know about. I’m not just an MC and I don’t forget that or lose touch so I guess it gives me an edge and another spin on why Awesome 3 as a band really works.
Steve: Over the years we’ve played at some amazing events and met amazing people… I just love seeing the faces of the crowd loving our performance.
What have you guys got lined up over the summer?
Steve: We’ve got gigs galore including the Indian Summer festival in Frodsham and Lazy Sunday in Bedford. We’ve got the Slip Back In Time Ibiza Reunion Weekender coming up and a couple of major radio shows incoming including a couple of hours with Danny Merlin on his Oldskool show on Flex FM. We’ve also got some studio time and Taitsy has a few DJ sessions coming up. And I might buy some more synthesisers…
With a summer packed with gigs and new material in the pipeline the future looks awesome!
You can catch Awesome 3 this summer at Lazy Sunday Festival, Indian Summer Festival and the Old Skool Ibiza Reunion.