Altern 8
Hardcore ravers from Stafford, Altern 8 consisted of Mark Archer and Chris Peat, and were actually an offshoot of their Nexus 21 pure techno act. Of the two, Archer was the house music aficionado, while Peat was a former music technology student with his main interests lying in computers. Former deckchair attendants (or so they claimed), they crashed the chart with Infiltrate 202 and Activ8, two chaotic slices of overground techno. They were aided in their chart aspirations by the circulation of fictitious press stories concerning their alleged activities. These included; patronage of the decongestant Vicks Vapo Rub, which, it is claimed, can heighten the effects of imbibing the Ecstasy drug; playing shows in a hot air balloon (dispensing Christmas Cakes laced with E to the masses) and standing as candidates for the 1993 General Election. Music journalists lapped it all up, and were roundly beaten in laser combat for their troubles. Their live ‘events’ were also designed as eye catching, surreal performances where the band donned RAF chemical warfare suits and dust masks (biazarrely banned in Scunthorpe as a result): ‘Dance music is there to be danced to, not to be looked at like rock music is. But, unfortunately, dance acts have to perform live on occasion, and, when we do, we want to provide something visual’. They were aided by their resident dancers Crez and John Parkes, and, in the case of their gig at Stafford Bingley Hall, an actual shaman. His job was to cleanse the venue of its ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ past’, prior to performance. Their vinyl outings, in addition to the hits, consisted of the OVERLOAD EP (1990), E Vapor 8 (1991) and Frequency, 10,000 copies of which were on sale for a single day only. The protagonists long maintained that this was a temporary diversion from their main project, Nexus 21, and confirmed this by releasing a ‘final’ Altern 8 single, Everybody, in June 1993. Mark Archer has gone on to form Slo-Moshun, a duo of Archer and Danny Taurus from Stoke On Trent. They released Bells Of New York, one of the biggest dance hits of early 1994, breaking the Top 30 on the back of its house/hip hop undulations. But some of the Altern 8 methodology remained. This time the scam was to trick everyone into thinking it was a US import. Their second single would be summer 1994's Help My Friends.

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