Andy Cato (Groove Armada)

Groove ArmadaHi Andy, how are you?
Good, thanks. Just coming to the end of a week’s holiday.

What did you do with it?
Not a lot really. We’ve been up in Norfolk. But I’ve got quite a tan. The weather’s been good.

Did you do anything music-related during your week off?
No. I managed to ignore the computer all week, but I’m just looking now. Since I last looked 10 days ago, 634 promos have come in, digitally. So I’ve got a bit of listening to do before Ibiza this weekend.

How conscientious are you at getting through it?
Well, you’ve got to be really. You never know where the belters will be. Most of it is anonymous, so the only way to find out if it’s good is to go through it. But the DJ sets are rocking at the moment, so it’s all worth it.

And you’d had a busy few weeks until your week off.
We certainly had. I’m trying to remember what we did.

Well, Lovebox happened, although you weren’t actually there. Have you heard good reports?
I’ve heard great reports, actually. The Saturday was a bit of a classic by all accounts. The vibe on site was apparently amazing. I’ve seen a lot of photographs. There just seems to be a level of enjoyment amongst everyone that I just don’t see at other festivals. And I hear Sunday was a real triumph as well. We’ll definitely look at doing something similar to that next year.

Did it feel weird not being there?
It felt very weird. Not least because it’s always just a really good chance to see friends, given that we spend so much time all over the place. But I was up a Swiss mountain at the time.

It’s like organising a party and then not going to it.
I know. It felt like not going to your 21st. But that was a good weekend for the band. We did the Melt festival in Germany, which has the most incredible site. They have five absolutely huge Mad Max-style super structure cranes from the 1930s or something, that surround the site. And they have bars on the top of them, where you’re like 300 feet up, with lasers bouncing between them. It gives the site a totally unique and pretty mental feel.

How was the show?
Well, we’ve never had a record label in Germany, so I think this was only our second ever festival booking in Germany ever. The only other one was in our first year at Rock AM Ring. So, we were playing in this little tent to one side of the main stage, but it was an absolute triumph. The tent filled up and it was just great playing on that kind of small level cos the band is cooking at the minute. It absolutely went off, even though 90% of the people in there probably didn’t know 90% of the tunes. It was a really great gig – which made the 18 hours arriving there from Hungary and the 18 hours travelling the next day feel almost worth it!

And you’re playing the new White Light show everywhere?
That’s right, yeah. As always, it’s getting slightly better with every gig. But this is the show that we launched at Glastonbury.

Are you still thinking of releasing White Light as an album?
We are. We’re going to Ibiza this weekend and then the Chateau Cato sessions recommence in the first week of August. That’s where we’re going to lay the recordings down and make a few more adjustments before the final run of gigs, which start with the live show at Space on August 15th.

No rest for the GA massive! Weren’t you in Ibiza last weekend too?
Yeah, we did another Space Terrace session. It’s just kicking actually. We’ve got everything right there. We’ve worked hard on the lighting and the vibe of the room, getting that exactly like we want it. And that’s made a really big difference. A lot of people were saying after the last one that they’ve not seen it go off like that since the roof went back on the Terrace. So it was a big day for us. And now we’re working hard on making sure the live gig there is as special as it can possibly be.

When do you think this White Light release would be?
I think pretty soon. The idea is to record it in that first week or two in August and then try to mix it down as quickly as possible. We don’t want to get too precious about it. We just want to keep the vibe that’s going on stage, because that’s what we’re excited about. Then we’ll try and get it out – however it’s gonna come out – in time for the Park Life festival in Australia and the UK tour. So within a few weeks, really.

Could you just record it live?
Well that’s an option, but we can’t do that at a festival, because you can’t set up properly to do that. We are going to record gigs in the UK – particularly the two shows at Brixton – but that’s too late for what we want to do with it. So, we are going to record it live, but in my studio.

You’ve never released a live record, have you?
No, we went to great lengths to record a show at Brixton years ago – which we should actually get out there, because it’s the one where we had Richie Havens and he came back on to do Going Back To My Roots as an encore. But it was the same old major label stuff where it takes so long that by the time it’s ready to go, it’s not worth it.

But you’ve still get the recordings?
We have, yeah. But White Light is the priority for now.

Meanwhile, History is the next single from Black Light.
Yes, as much as anything is a single these days! I think the guys over in the States have done various remixes and we’ve got a great idea of how to work a new version of that into the live set.

Are you making a video for it?
There is going to be a video, in that way these days where incredibly talented people basically do really clever things for no money.

In the hope that Kanye West picks them for his next video.
Haha! I guess that’s pretty much the only prize in the locker these days. It’s funny to think that the first Groove Armada video budgets were the size that films get made for now! Those days are definitely long gone. But the videos they’re making now for 50p are so much better than the ones that cost £500,000. Money doesn’t buy you creativity, that’s for sure.

And I Won’t Kneel is up for the Popjustice Music Prize.
Oh is it? I didn’t know that.

It is indeed. So it’s officially one of the 12 best pop singles of the year.
So it should be. It’s a cracking song.

Do you think you can win?
I don’t know. It’d be nice to win a prize, but we’ve got some anthems on the go at the minute – Paper Romance is right up there with Superstylin now – and there’s no prize quite like 20,000 people with their arms in the air.

You can apply to be a judge for the Popjustice prize. Maybe you could email in.
Haha! That would be the quickest way to sort it out. I would definitely be the tallest man on the panel, which must count for something.

So, you’ve played some pretty obscure countries in the last couple of months. Do they seem to know the songs?
Hungary was definitely an odd one, where we were on the same bill as Slipknot and Metallica tribute bands. It did feel a bit like an hour-long conversion course into dance music. But it was a conversion course that people were into, so that was fine. But Germany and Poland were brilliant. They’ve all been great, actually. From Glastonbury onwards, they’ve all been fab. In fact, Bulgaria – which was just before Glastonbury – was great too. This new set just works.

And how is Ibiza looking this summer?
It’s busy. I think there’s a lot more free stuff going on in small bars and clubs. It’s like London really. And our experience of the big clubs so far is that it’s going off. I’m looking forward to our first trip to Wonderland and seeing Pete. The atmosphere in there last year was electric.

For anyone who hasn’t been to Ibiza before, but is going this summer, tell us three things they should definitely do.
OK, three things you should do would be:

1. Go and see my friend Nick at the Rock Bar, because you’ll have a good time.

2. Go to Space on Sundays because it’s definitely got its legendary status fully restored.

3. Go to Cocoon at Amnesia on a Monday. That’s a brilliant party, with Sven Vath and his mates.

4. And even though this is a fourth tip, go and see the brothers and their dad Xavier at Mambo at Sunset, because they’re just lovely people and they make a fine cocktail.

Interview taken from article on