Speaking to The Guardian, the trip-hop group explain that their most recent live dates are designed to be “disorienting”.
To celebrate the 21st anniversary of their seminal album Mezzanine, Massive Attack are currently on tour across the UK and Europe. In an interview with The Guardian, together with HyperNormalisation director Adam Curtis, the duo (formerly a trio) discuss the “creative risk” involved at each concert.
At every stop throughout the tour, a film created by Curtis and Massive Attack’s Robert del Naja plays alongside a live reconstructed version of Mezzanine. Running through the 20 years of pop culture and world history following Mezzanine‘s initial release in 1998, the visuals juxtapose images of war and death with fragments of mass media culture. Describing the ideas behind this, Curtis explains, “Gigs have become very formulaic these days… the overall aim is to show how over the past 20 years, we’ve gone into a very static, repetitive world that surrounds us with the same images that keep us from really looking.”
Whereas the visuals are intended to communicate a range of themes to the audience, the band have decided to avoid saying anything during their tour dates. Del Naja states, “[T]here has to be some personal creative risk attached where you don’t know what’s going to happen. It should be disorienting for us and the audience.”
Elsewhere in the interview the group discuss the process of writing and recording Mezzanine, recalling a dispute with former bandmate Andrew Vowles. Del Naja and Grant Marshall wanted Liz Fraser to sing the vocals for Teardrop, but Vowles was insistent that Madonna head up the vocals. Whilst it was ultimately Fraser who lent her voice to the track, the disagreement lost the group their third member. Speaking of the incident Marshall says, “[Mezzanine] was the end of our trio but it projected us to greater things.”
Also on the topic of Teardrop, Del Naja reveals that they rejected requests for the song to feature as the title track for Academy Award-winning film American Beauty. Additionally, he reveals how the group also passed on an opportunity to provide the official remix of Radiohead’s 1997 album OK, Computer, explaining, “We were just too busy for it at the time.”
Rounding off the interview, the duo express their hope for the future and the youth of today, saying, “I have total faith in the next generation. Looking at their response to climate change is really interesting and, again, that’s the power of social media at its best, to mobilise people.”
For further information about the Mezzanine tour, head to Massive Attack’s official website.