By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
"Tom actually lived in New York for a year," Cato says, explaining the ease with which the pair has slid onto otherwise tightly packed East Coast dance cards. "We were there last year, and he knew vaguely where we were going. We went to Tunnel and to Limelight -- it was great."
Groove Armada's continued focus on the club/DJ aspect of its musical approach might explain why it's slotted for an August 15 spin behind the turntables at Boulder über club SOMA. (The venue's mastermind, Hardy Kalisher, apparently doesn't know any B-grade talents and certainly wouldn't book them into his club if he did.) This DJ mix-only appearance should work as a nice warmup for Cato and Findlay's Fall 2001 American tour, a continuation of a June trek that found them supported by a nine-piece band.
With Organic Audio, Ivy and Hardy. 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 15. $12-$15
Patrons planning to attend can expect an event along the lines of the Armada's 2000 entry in the "Back to Mine" DJ-mix CD series (on the Ultra/DMC imprint) rather than the more bass-tastic stylings that permeate its upcoming long-player, Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). The "Back to Mine" series -- which also includes selections from Faithless, Everything But the Girl and Danny Tenaglia -- is a looser format than most DJ-mix series, focusing on slower, post-club songs that might not otherwise make it onto a DJ's party-time playlist. Groove Armada's contribution to the mix includes pieces of soulful cuts such as Al Green's "Light My Fire," Mica Paris's "I Should've Known Better" and A Tribe Called Quest's "Description of a Fool." These types of soupy, organic beats characterize Goodbye Country's mellower moments.
Findlay's fine taste in tuneage seems to spring from his background in club promotion (he's worked in Cambridge, Manchester and London), as well as an affinity for funk vinyl. Cato, who established the ultra-obscure Skinnymalinky label, traces his musical origins to the days when he messed around with trumpets and trombones as a kid. The pair's mutual love affair with jazz, disco and house music led to their first incarnation, a mid-'90s London club night christened "Captain Sensual at the Helm of the Groove Armada." Influenced by such seminal scenesters as Tim "Love" Lee and the Idjut Boys, the Groove Armada night took its name from a cheeseball '70s discotheque in the northern city of Newcastle. (The event sounds similar to the vibe of Denver's own So What!, curated by DJs K-Nee and Style N. Fashion, that's run for more than eight years and is currently housed at Rock Island.) Something sexy and intoxicating must have been circulating in the world's vinyl bins around that time.
"Tom and I were becoming better friends, and we were deejaying together," says Cato. "And he was quite interested in doing a studio track." Their first single was "At the River," a swampy trip-house number that builds around a Patti Page sample lifted from "Old Cape Cod" ("If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air/Quaint little villages here and there...") and Findlay's trumpet (a skill picked up in Manchester). The floaty, nostalgic track is a post-club anthem, and one the band used to launch its first album, the European-only release Northern Star, in 1997 (handled by Lee's Tummy Touch label). The ubiquitous and infectious dig of "I See You Baby (Shakin' That Ass)" provided the four-on-the-floor kick that catapulted the band's second CD, Vertigo (Jive Electro), out of London and into the global dance-music charts in 2000. "I think it's worked out quite well," says Cato of the band's rise to superstar status over the last four years, in a feat of understatement.
The Armada's vibes-and-groove sound reflects a countryside recording process, hence the name of the upcoming album Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). "We tend to get out of London," says Cato. "Hire a little cottage and admire the beautiful scenery. Basically, we always go for a couple of killer grooves and then do the arrangements from there -- maybe pull some samples from a rock-and-roll record." The image of the six-foot-eight Cato wandering England's Lake District, contemplating hot beats destined for DJ booths, is quite a mental picture.