I've had this article in the back pocket for a little bit and reading this recent piece on the Guardian about the greatest hardcore records reminded me about it. Growing up in Orpington and loving house music I was also surrounded by people that were mad into the breakbeat scene. The one tune that they all loved and unified them all was 2 Bad Mice and their seminal 'Bombscare'. I was chatting to Sean from 2 Bad Mice on email a while back and asking him how they made it and he sent me this... As soon as this tune starts you know what it is and whats coming. Chaos if you're in Bromley in 1991.
You know that tune that goes bah bah bah….. bah bah bah babababa?
The story of Bombscare by 2 Bad Mice...
In retrospect, I suppose you could say that before Bombscare and the Hold it Down EP we were pretty much bluffing our way through. For our first couple of releases in 1991 we just turned up with a bunch of random samples that we liked and pieced things together from there… But this was different. When we reinstated our regular Monday evening sessions at Rob Playford’s Stevenage studio in 1992, we had a real sense of purpose: now we had a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve. And because we’d been doing some proper pre-production this time, trying out samples and breaks on a mismatched pair of turntables in my bedroom, we had a very pretty clear idea how we were going to achieve it.
My using the term ‘Pre-production’ makes it sound like this was high-tech stuff – but actually Rob’s studio was pretty Timeless.
As I said – for the first time we had a very concrete idea of what we were aiming for. We actually had a plan! So each track Hold It Down Ep was conceived to be different from the others. We built Hold It Down, for instance, entirely from old hip hop samples – and even the Emotions sample was taken from an old MC Shy D record called “Bust This” (we didn’t know the original source at the time). Inspired by the (much underrated) DJ Frankie Valentine’s sets, Waremouse, on the other hand, was deliberately dark and sparse…
And then there was Bombscare… Which grew out of a strange combination of Fate, terrorism and obsession…
We all had a fair amount of New Beat/Belgian stuff in our record collections but a mate of ours had one in particular that I was – a fairly obscure Belgian 12” by Neon. Over the course of several weeks I went on a kind of pilgrimage to every record shop I knew, but absolutely nobody had it – and that just fuelled my desperation until finally I managed to persuade my mate to sell me his copy for £20 (top dollar in those days).
Obviously I was going to sample the hell out of it. And the moment I got my hands on it I started digging for breaks and the rest, as they say, is history. Like all the best tracks, it pretty much wrote itself. We sampled and replayed the riff, You can Run – but that was before Fate (and the IRA) intervened one night when Simon and I emerged from the Astoria a little worse for wear to find the whole of Tottenham Court Road sealed off by the Police Bomb Squad (this was only a few weeks after a huge Provisional IRA bomb attack at the Baltic Exchange in the City of London). It was, to use a depressingly familiar phrase, ‘total lockdown’. And our car was trapped in the police cordon. After a few hours aimlessly roaming around the West End we were allowed back to where the car was parked – and the first thing on the cassette player was a rough cut of our latest track. With all those explosion samples… the shock onslaught of flashing blue lights and Police loudhailers in the early hours after the being in your own happy world at Crazy Club (or was it Fantasy FM?)… there was no question what the track had to be called: Bombscare. Obviously.
When the Bombscare promos dropped things started going crazy. Which was great. The record was getting played everywhere – which was also great. What wasn’t so great was the worry. We were freaking out about that Neon sample we’d used. It wasn’t as if any of us at Moving Shadow were exactly on the case legally-speaking. Our only experience of sample-clearance had been a failed attempt to clear with ZTT the Seal sample from Blame’s Music Takes You. Faced with a point blank, non-negotiable refusal we had no choice but to take the sample off the release version.
That was then – but this was now. A whole different and far bigger ballgame. With what looked like a hit on our hands we couldn’t risk ruining it by being forced to remove some of its defining elements. Equally, trying to keep it ‘under the radar’ was already out of the question since the track was all over the radio, with pre-sales already hitting the tens of thousands…
Our solution was, though I say it myself, a cunning plan. We didn’t bother even trying to negotiate clearing the sample from the Neon track – instead we decided to buy the rights outright in an exclusive worldwide licensing deal (obviously we weren’t so worried about the Jungle Brothers sample on the flip side!).
And it’s good thing we did – because the record went on to sell nearly 100,000 copies worldwide, just missing the UK top 40 by a hair’s breadth and, by the end of ’92, we were touring America off the back of it. And for a couple of blokes still living with their parents in Hertfordshire that was a hell of a rite of passage! (more of our American adventures here...
It was only a few years ago that in a chance meeting in an LA hotel bar we found out that the Neon track we sampled was written by the same guy behind loads of the classic Belgian stuff under names like Trigger, T99, Quadrophonia, The Concrete Beat among many others – so we were in very good company right from the start.
Fast forward nearly 30 years to the night before Harvey’s closing party at Freddies at Pikes Ibiza. I’m in the booth, three hours into my set and just as I’m nervously asking myself, ‘Can I play Bombscare?’ And, more to the point, ‘Should I play Bombscare?’… and even more to the point, ‘Is it right for in here?’… a guy the front of the dancefloor grins and holds up his phone to show me the screen. On it is the cover for Bombscare.
I play it. It goes off! He’s happy and so am I.
I’m thinking, ‘Fucking hell, I’m living the dream here!’