By Hannah Anstee
Bass Quake was a popular rave night that heavily influenced the town’s music scene in the 90s. It’s been 25 years since their first ever party at The Trades Club, and the guys have chosen to celebrate – back at the place where it all began.
I spoke to James Deane, Bass Quake member about this exciting reunion on Saturday 30 Sep 2017.
Bass Quake nights were legendary in Hebden Bridge – what were they actually like?
This was obviously the pre-internet and smartphone period, so there isn’t much documentary evidence in existence. To be honest, whilst it’s a pity that there aren’t many photos from this period, it’s probably not entirely a bad thing as the parties back then were pretty wild affairs with some shenanigans best consigned to the memory banks.
Bass Quake at the Trades was pretty special. We used to hire a huge Court Black-Box sound system, get a few lights and a smoke machine from a local supplier and off we went. There weren’t any noise level restrictions, so we used to get complaints from half-way up the valley, because geographically, The Trades sits in the bottom of what is effectively a large amphitheatre.
Sometimes, when we were particularly busy, people would try and climb through the toilet windows to get in and we saw a few very poorly forged tickets presented at the door more than once, but usually we just let them in anyway because they had gone to so much trouble. They were real events – there was always a tremendous sense of community, belonging and being part of something pretty special and intimate.
People make parties and we couldn’t have had a better, more up-for-it crowd to play to. They often cheered each new track as it was mixed in and they didn’t want to leave when it was time to stop. There was a lot of energy in that room. We did many parties in other venues around Bradford, Todmorden, Halifax and Burnley and although some of them were brilliant, The Trades Club was always our spiritual home.
Who were Bass Quake?
The first parties had a few core resident DJs, myself, Martin Deane and Will Oliver, and also Ewan Cawood played regularly early on. The four of us had already worked together at our ‘Lego Burger’ residency at The Yard club in Huddersfield so it seemed sensible to stick together for the early Bass Quake events. Gavan Fleming became the fourth resident in early 1993.
Over the years we hosted many guest DJs in a variety of venues including John Berry (E-Bloc), Paul Waine, Matthew Roberts (K-Klass), Matt Bell, The Mighty Woz & Mick Heburn (InExile), Welly, John Stapleton (Dope On Plastic), Mike Anstee, John Gilpin (Phat Records) Scott Crawford (Word Of Mouth/ The Hub), Slackears (Listen To The Beat / Chapter 4), The Howard Brothers, Marcus Intalex and Louie Finch (Boogiejuice). Because The Trades only had a 1.30am license, it was always tough time-wise to get other DJs involved, especially with four or five residents already playing.
Where did the name Bass Quake come from?
We initially came up with the name ‘Dub Quake’ whilst planning a party at The Trades Club back in 1992. I can’t remember who came up with the change to ‘Bass Quake’, but we did a couple of events under the old name before putting on the first Bass Quake party at The Trades on Saturday 26th September 1992.
Explain about the UK music scene at the time?
Dance music was very dominant during most of the 1990s. This was particularly true of the early part of the decade when house music and its many derivatives took over the music charts and permeated every corner of the UK. Back then if you were a DJ, you’d spend most of the weekdays (and all of your money) either practising or hanging around in record shops, particularly in Manchester or Leeds. Weekends were spent trying to find a good party, which often meant travelling long distances. But, Hebden quickly developed a very vibrant dance music scene of its own.
And what was the Hebden scene like?
Back in the nineties, Hebden had a very good record shop called System Records, and Bass Quake and Word of Mouth were regular fixtures at The Trades, there were house parties every weekend and often during the week too. Some of these are now the stuff of local legend, including the infamous parties at Weather House a.k.a. Brian’s Parties which were organised by Sarah Gledhill. We also did parties at the White Rose, which is now the Co-op in Mytholmroyd and the derelict Woodman Inn. The Shoulder of Mutton was our boozer of choice back then and we did an amazing party at Rick’s Gym above what was then called Hebden’s Pizza place, now La Perla. We tried doing some parties at the Blue Note in Todmorden, with mixed results – as a venue it just didn’t have the right vibe for some reason. The Trades was the hub of the scene really, it served as a crucible for local crews to cut their teeth and build a following. That’s the way it’s always seemed to me. They were willing to give us – and others – a crack at putting something on, helping to nurture the grass roots. Long may it continue.
How did it all end?
Thankfully there was no acrimony between us, we all moved away from the area, bit by bit, and for different reasons. Will and Gav moved to London towards the end of the 90s so Martin and I carried on doing occasional parties under the Bass Quake banner, with the last one taking place in 2002.
Martin and I moved to Preston to study and went on to co-found the ‘Trailer Trash’ all-nighters which ran at The Mill in Bradford from 2003 – 2008, whilst getting involved in various festivals, including the Beat Herder which we’ve been doing since 2006. Martin toured Eastern Europe with the band Carpathiana and we put on a few parties in Preston, but not under the Bass Quake banner. Martin and I are both still actively Djing – although nothing like as frequently as we used to. Earlier this year I played at the Nelson’s 20th birthday party in Hebden and also supported Coldcut at the Beat Herder Festival.
What can we expect from this reunion and why now?
Me and Martin caught up with Gavan for a few beers in Hebden in May 2016 and the conversation inevitably turned to our impending 25th anniversary.
I contacted Will and he was willing to travel up and play, then it was just a case of approaching The Trades to see if they would have us back and give us a suitable date. We settled on the 30th September – which marks 25 years and four days since the first party. Luckily I still have my vintage 90’s lighting rig. It has been great to hear from so many of the original party people, their support, encouragement and enthusiasm is what makes the hard work worthwhile. It’s not about the money, it’s about the people and the music and personally I firmly believe in the philosophy – ‘If You Build It They Will Come’. We’ve just heard that the event is now sold-out and we’re obviously thrilled that it’s shaping up to be such a good party.
What sort of music will you be playing?
All forms of House, Techno, Breakbeat and anything else that fits the 90s vibe. We’ve all still got all of our records from the 90s so there’s a lot of music to go at. I’ve been cleaning mine and spending both long hours and lots of money on Discogs, as some of my original records have seen better days, sacrificed on the altar of numerous messy parties. Martin and I have a joint collection of over 10, 000 records, so getting them organised has been a pretty big job. But it’s been very interesting revisiting this music, some of it has actually aged quite well, but not all of it.
There is a lot of music to cram into one night, so hopefully there will be something for everyone, including a lot of lost gems. Personally, I’ll be trying to represent the widest possible range of music from the 90s period and trying to play as many tracks as possible!
I’d encourage people to get there early as the quality will be there from the kick-off at 8:30pm. We have been granted a late licence so the music can go on until 2:30am. Ideally we’d like to see a reconstitution of the Hebden diaspora – albeit a temporary one – where old friends can meet-up, reconnect & have a good dance in a brilliant space. That’s what it’s all about really.