Uncle Dugs talks to us about his new book

 In Interviews

Uncle Dugs has a new book out. Rave Diaries and Tower Block Tales is out now on Music Mondays.

We chatted to him ahead of it’s official release day…..

Your new book Rave Diaries and Tower Block Tales is out now. What can people expect from it?

I’ve got a brand new book out now on Music Mondays. Well it’s my autobiography, from when I was a kid growing up in Dagenham, the trouble I used to get into, the good and the bad times, up into finding the rave scene. I was a footballer as a kid, played quite high level football, found the rave scene, live changed, got into pirate radio, life changed even more. For the last 25 years of my life I have pretty much done most jobs, had some great times and some not so great times in music. But it’s led me to a point where I can put a book together about it

Where did the idea for a book come from?

Originally about 5 years I started to write a book with a friend of mine, Johnny Earl and writing a book is something that isn’t as easy as people may think, maybe they wouldn’t think. It’s quite a long process and like so many things in live, we got about half way into it and then it filtered and faded. I won an award in 2013 and the last bit of the book I was going to write finished with me winning that award. Fast forward 3 more years and last year Billy Bunter wrote a book and after exploring different avenues he eventually ended up setting up his own publishing company. Now he is putting together a series, he did the first one, Mark Archer from Altern 8 did one, I’m doing this one now and then next one is Jumpin Jack Frost. A series of stories from different characters in the scene. Bunter obviously broke through as a kid, got his residency at Labyrinth. Mark Archer has the whole Altern 8 story. My story is more pirate radio and rave based and it’s the opposite of Bunter, he broke through as a kid, it took me years of working, chipping away to break through as someone in their late thirties. Frost’s book is probably going to be full of madness, because that is Jumpin Jack Frost.

How long has it taken to write?

From the first try, I realised if you are going to do this you have to do it to deadlines. Bunter works on tight deadlines, so we set a 5 month start to finish process, which to anyone who knows anything about writing a book isn’t long. It’s not just the writing, the story, the editing, there is a lot of stuff I didn’t know went into it. We done it, we got through it.  Not many people can say I wrote a book and got it published in 5 months and in the middle I had a 2 week holiday just to make it a bit harder.

I take it there is a lot of pirate radio stories in the book, tell us you favourite and craziest pirate radio story?

There are a lot of stories in there. I started off as a DJ and ended up as part of the management. If I had to think of one story…..

We got broken into, when studios where constantly getting broken into, so we installed some secret cameras that none of the dj’s, nobody else knew about. Just me, genius and three people that helped us. Nobody knew about this camera. What we did was we cut a spot light in half and installed a tiny camera into it, put it back together, took the bulb out, turned it around and pointed it at the decks. So everyone just assumed it was a spot light whose bulb had gone. We had a long play video recorder and every 12 hours I had to go to the studio, change the tapes over and go home and watch it on fast forward. Just so I could see the DJ’s are behaving, they used to think we were magicians or something. We always knew everything and they didn’t know how. They used to take their friends their and two days later we’d be Oi, what was your mate so and so doing up the radio. So one night, we moved the camera round a bit to see what was going on in the studio as well.  There was a night time DJ, or graveyard DJ as they call it. He was allowed to take one of his friends up there with him, because he was playing at night time. The camera caught his friend standing at the studio doorway pissing into the hallway. We was in a small warehouse type of place and there was a toilet, but because he’d been drinking or was stoned, he pissed into the hallway. So we was in a bit of predicament. If we bring this up it’s going to blow the cover of the camera being there. So we had a studio meeting the week after and we’re sat round the table. At the end we was like “someone has been pissing in the studio and we don’t know who it is, but someone is pissing out there in the hallway and if we fucking catch them, I tell you now we’ll tie your hands behind your back and rub your face in it”.

The geeza who did it, stood up and said “yeah someone is taking the piss in here”. What a little cunt out of all the people in there, he’s got the bollox to say that. Agreeing with us. But we couldn’t say anything we just sat there and shook our heads.

When did you first play on a pirate station and how did that happen?

The 7th of January 1995 on a station called conflict FM. My first show was 8 til 10 on a Saturday night, which to be honest isn’t a bad start. 89.4 when I first started, within a couple of months London Underground switched a transmitter on 89.4 and after a little bit of backwards and forwards we realised that they had a bit more cash than us, so they took the frequency and we moved to 88.4 which was unity fm old frequency, but we were a sister station that was owned by the same people. So unity switched off and Conflict took over from there.

What caused your move from Rinse to Kool FM back in 2005?

Yea the last thing I did with Rinse was Dec 2005 thing called Rinse Sessions at Ministry of Sound, that was the last project that I worked on. I joined Kool on January 20th 2006. I’d been running the station for about 6 years and in the time I was running rinse, Grime music came through, then dubstep. So I oversaw a lot of artists that were unknown then, like Skepta, Dizzee Rascal, Whiley, Target, Skream, Hatcha, N-Type, Lethal Bizzle, I’ve watched all of these people come through. So really good times. Sometimes there’d be 70-80 artists on the station. I had a job as well, I was a postman, being a postman and running a radio station. Genius owned the station but he went through a period of being ill.  The Pay As You Go thing he was involved in blew up massively.  My job was the everyday runnings, sometimes I’d be on the roof, sometimes in the studio, getting money out of the DJ’s for subs, I did everything, it took its toll, dealing with the mc’s in grime took its toll too. It’s become much more professional that now. They were all youngsters off a council estate and were a little bit hot headed. Once that clash culture kicked off between them, they are all arguing,  99{c677f8d1c17564a56c503e01be8f588995c5f36b5bc5ff935a383d6667989752} of the time it’s just hot air. I was older than all of them as well. It took its toll a bit and I started to fall out of love with it, we had a company too that had different branches and I started  drawing back from it.

Sarah had a vision to make it legal and I didn’t really understand that vision at the time.  Mostly coz I had the hump with everyone. It came to a head one night, we had a big row in our office.  G had it in his head that he was going to fuck me off and I had it in my head that I was going to pack it in and we just went at each other, it’s lucky Gary was there, he smashed up half the office and I smashed up the other half, if we hadn’t had Gary there who was a very calming influence we would have torn strips out of each other. A friend of mine talked me out of packing it all in, I talked to Eastman and he gave me a show that day and it’s been a lifelong ambition to play on Kool. I dj’ed for ever but it was the first time I’ve had a platform to be a real DJ.  While I was running Rinse I let all the DJ’ing go to one side, I just wanted to make Rinse as big as I could. I’d do the odd show here and there and then I was back to being a DJ again.

Do you miss the old pirate days now Rinse is all legit?

If I had gone to somewhere like let’s say Radio one. I’d probably miss it a lot more, but the thing with being on Rinse is, it’s like being on the best Pirate in the World. They don’t restrict what I do. You know what my show is, it’s 3 hours of playing whatever the fuck I want. I can interview anyone as long as they don’t swear or glamorise drugs or violence. As long as I don’t do any of that I can do whatever the fuck I want. Lovely equipment, lovely studio, a team of people that support everything and give you ideas. That is why I don’t miss pirate, because it’s like I never left it. I don’t miss getting on the roof and all that shit though.

What’s been your proudest achievement to date?

Career wise, I guess establishing the show to what it’s become. I’ve played for some great promoters, getting the first show on Kool. But the Run Come Follow Friday thing is the making of me. I was sort of known before and I was getting work here and there.  But that show and how people have taken to it. Radio always meant the world to me, it really did. If push came to shove I would choose radio over rave. If I could only have a career in one. That is the heartbeat of everything. When I started on radio, I’ve had times when I’ve done a show and no phone calls, not one, I don’t think there is any cunt listening in the whole world. But when you do those shows, you still give your all, as hard as it is, it’s like playing to an empty club, you still play the music. But it ain’t like playing to a thousand people who are having it.

I remember thinking how great must it be to have a show like Brockie and Det. Have a show that people look forward to. I’ve always dreamed of having a show like that. It’s almost like in a weird happy ending kind of way. I gave so much to radio, my heart, my time, I put myself in danger, physically and with my freedom because it meant that much to me, but years later it paid me back. It’s almost a thankyou.

People like Rodigan and John peel, who devote their life to music, it eventually shines through and people respond to it, don’t you think?

I genuinely love the music I play on my show, I love going to radio, interacting with my listeners, I love the whole thing and I think that’s why it’s popular.

You saying John peel and Rodigan, people like that. They loved what they did or what they do. I’m a big John Peel fan for what his contribution has been to music and radio. I remember when Rinse was breaking through as a bigger pirate. When Dizzee Rascal was blowing up massively and a lot of eyes were on Rinse. I remember going into work one day and I opened the paper and John Peel used to write for some big paper and he’d done a write up about Rinse.  About a DJ that used to do the breakfast show in the mornings, he was  big personality and a really good presenter and John peel used to listen to him every day on his way into radio and he wrote saying this station and this dj are the heartbeat of the what music is all about. To a lot of people that I was around because they were a bit younger than me and a bit more street, it didn’t mean anything. But it meant the world to me. A lot of them were like yeah yeah, what time am I on later. But for someone like that to take the time to write about something you are putting your life and soul into, it was a really nice thing to read.

Jacket 3

What projects do you have in pipeline?

I’ve got the launch part for the book at the Aquarium.  I just grabbed a load of my mates to come and play Bunter, Ratpack, Phantasy, Jumpin Jack Frost, Evil B, Shabba, Navigator, Shockin. It’s not about filling up the venue, it’s a special occasion for me. I don’t want it to be like a rave rave, I want it to be a Gathering, I want people to come so I can chat and have a drink with them, I’m sure it will turn into a rave though.

I’ve got shows all over for Christmas. Couple of News years gigs in London. January 1st is Ribena Jungle which has sold out. Then the New Year starts. There is loads of stuff to do with the book, me Bunter, Mark Archer and Frost are going to be touring around Universities talking about careers in writing.

My old school has just been in touch with me. I’m going to be doing some stuff there next year, you know some mentoring and that kind of stuff. There are posters of me up around the school saying I was a student there and if you work hard you can be like me. Which is so mad. Going back to your old school to talk to kids, this is what it’s all about, giving something back (without sounding cheesy). When I told my mum about it she was super proud. All she ever got at parents evening was you son is a pain in the arse, he’ll never do anything with his life, he’s a waste of space. Lots of potential but he’s a little shit. Now they want me to go back, for my Mum it’s lovely. She doesn’t fully understand the music, but this is really something she gets.

Make sure you grab a copy of Uncle Dugs new book.

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