(That Thing I Never Wrote About X-Press 2)
In the end the main reason I quit my job is because I despise working. Despise is too flowery a word even, to be honest I’d prefer ‘hate’. I hated working in a petrol station. I hated two of the managers, I hated when the customers asked me if sweets we sold tasted nice. I mean how the hell was I meant to know? I hated the way the shop opened at 7 in the morning and closed at midnight, ensuring if you got unlucky your whole life for one week would consist of dreading work, and working.
Or the guys who asked why our petrol costs 79.865 cents instead of 79.877, or the people who insisted on telling me what price something which wouldn’t scan was, despite the fact I knew the price all too well from having bashed in the 14 digit barcode ten times per day to ensure it actually went through. In time I even grew to hate everyday words and phrases which took on an altogether more hateable new context, ‘pump’, ‘unleaded’, ‘Ronan could youÖ’ etc.
The theory that everyone hates their job was thrown in my direction a few times and it must be true, however it was scant consolation. Not everyone is as good at hating their job as I was. I managed to ruin days off for myself by thinking about when I’d next end up in work. I’d come home at 1 in the morning and eat food from whatever greasehole happened to be open and sit by the TV staring vacantly like one of the characters in the crap films that always seemed to be on. And even while I knew this was all melodramatic, it didn’t change the fact that I had and still have a burning hatred for that fucking Service Station. I am totally lazy, and my imagination is a pretty potent hate generator. A few years ago I felt similarly about school. I’m not too keen on college either.
So when charged with ‘you don’t like anything except your music and going out’ by a relative, I had to plead guilty really. It hasn’t always been like this, I used to at least pretend to care about other things. I don’t know if it’s laziness that has made me love music even more, or if my love for music has just made me lazy. Either way, there’s no escaping it now, I have no interest in anything else. I guess it’s a pretty surly, adolescent and even simplistic hatred. I’ve sold my soul really, and reached a point in my life where I spend my weekdays in an imaginary waiting room. And the events which occur are just distractions, the equivalent of the shit magazines flung around to keep people occupied. The week is just a drone, a dull and never ending prog track. And then finally, eventually, just when you can’t take anymore; Saturday explodes back into your life.
‘Fun’ is a word used to describe countless things the childish punk in me hated for years, so I don’t want to use it to describe my Saturday nights. And to be honest, it wouldn’t quite fit. Of course I have fun, but it’s an intense experience, the music I love is my whole life. I’ve heard so many mind-blowing, head fucking classics, but none of them seemed to capture my feeling that they, the songs are all I have. Songs like ‘Take Me With You’ by Cosmos, lots of songs by the Chemical Brothers or Orbital, stomping house journeys like ‘Smoke Machine’ by X-Press 2, all these and about a thousand more have had something to do with the highest points of the best nights, but none of them have touched on the dull days quite enough. I guess doing the two at the same time isn’t easy.
Nothing had managed it really, until recently. It seems seeing Underworld live was the key to it all. I should have been prepared. Afterall I was driving to work a few weeks before and “Two Months Off” briefly whisked me away, far away from the grim reality of things I can’t stand. Underworld are the sound of hating your job and a lot of your life, of the gritty and constant struggle to get through the monotony and find a passion, ‘there is a sound on the other side of this wall, a bird is singing on the other side of this glass’. Out of the context of Underworld’s locomotive, euphoric productions, the lyrics can seem pretty stark and grim. Inside it, they’re flashing beacons of the outside world, quickfire glimpses of irrelevant things, the half thoughts and half fears that shoot through your brain while you drag yourself into the sound of an evening.
Underworld’s music shows a total understanding of just how vital it really is, of the fact that the moment it’s played in is the crucially important one and everything beyond that moment is an irrelevance. “Born Slippy” live is modern soul, the sound of work and play and death and love and everything else that makes life the lottery that it is, with the toughest, leanest, most punching beat straight out of dark streets in London or subways in New York. And just as you mentally look at the pavements that famous synth stab floods back in, and you think that even if this is the only reason you have to put up with weeks which are 90 percent boredom and frustration, it’s still enough.
And it’s clear to me now that this music represents a certain attitude to life, total euphoria surrounded by a darkness which is totally necessary and unavoidable. And behind all the washy synths and the dark relentless pounding of it all is one vivid manifesto, give everything you have to everything you love, and nothing to anything else Hear it in Rez/Cowgirl’s spiraling, deep tones; ‘I don’t dream. Ice Cream, I scream so much you know what I mean this electric stream, and my tears in league with the wires and energy, and my machine, this is my beautiful dream, I’m hurting noone, hurting noone, hurting noone, hurting noone, I wanna give you everything, I wanna give you energy, I want to give a good thing, I want to give you everything. Everything, everything, everything, everything, everything’
I don’t dream. Who needs dreams or nightmares with a reality like this.