Fun Lovin’ Criminals in Dubai – interview

Bassist Fast tells us what to expect from band DJ set at Tamanya Terrace


Renowned to a generation for 1996 breakout hit ‘Scooby Snacks’, American alternative hip-hoppers Fun Lovin’ Criminals celebrated 20 years as a band this year. Two-thirds of the trio – Fast and Frank, AKA Brian Leiser and Mark Reid – are rolling into Dubai for a band-branded DJ set.

Fast is a founding member of the band, playing bass, keyboards, harmonica, melodic, trumpet, and occasionally singing. Frank, on the other hand, is the drummer, and has been with the band a decade. Before they get behind the decks for a free gig at Tamanya Terrace on Thursday November 21, we asked Frank what to expect.

Don’t call him a DJ.

‘We don’t really see it as DJing. We say we’re selectors. DJs are these people who have really big egos and attitudes, like they’re the ones writing the music. And that’s the thing, because we’re musicians. We play instruments, we write different types of music and stuff, but at the same time we love playing other people’s music. So that’s the thing of being a selector: choosing selections of music as opposed to going in there like Fatboy Slim or someone. But respect to them all, I’m not judgemental. I just know that when we DJ we’ll walk around and meet some people before we play, find out what kind of music they like.’

Get in early – they will play just one request per evening.

‘We don’t advertise saying we take requests, but if someone comes up, we say “One.” If someone else comes up and goes “Oh, can I make a request?,” you can say “No, there was just one.” And they’ll be like, “What do you mean? I didn’t make that request before.” “Well, you didn’t hear. We only do one request. Not one request per person. One request. I already played a Busta Rhymes song, I’m not going to play another three for you”.’’

Expect the unexpected.

‘When Frank and I DJ, we bring everything. Because we’ll be hired to do a hip hop party and show up, and the DJ before us is playing house music. Or we’ll be hired to do a house set, show up and the DJs are playing reggae. So, we always try to be prepared – whenever we’ve planned a set, it never goes according to plan. We’ve been doing this enough years to be like, “Oh, just bring a bit of everything. Bring enough for two hours of every type of music. And then if you have a really good crowd that likes all different types of music, then you can kind of mix everything. And that’s the best.”

And don’t go along expecting them to sit back and press play on one of their records.

‘We kind of do some remixes. Obviously everyone wants to hear us play “Scooby Snacks”, but we’d always prefer to play a version they’re maybe not usually hearing. I mean, what’s the point? They can drive in their car to the gig, or sit at home listening to the album versions. Wouldn’t you want to hear something else? It don’t make a difference, though. If someone came up to us and said “Play the real version,” we’d play it. But it’s when someone keeps asking over and over and over again – no, they get told: No thanks. If they’re fans of the band then all they’re going to want to hear is us play our own music, which to me is silly.’

Fast and Frank have spent the last five years working on their own reggae version of Prince’s Purple Rain.

‘We were just in New York for two weeks mixing it with the guy who mixes all the Fun Lovin’ Criminals records – the guy’s a Grammy-award winning mixer; he worked on Lou Reed’s past three records. We wanted to take our time with it because [Purple Rain] is kind of a timeless album. I mean, we could have done it in a year, but it’s just taken a long time to get the guest singers on it. It’s not as easy to find people as you think. But I love it. I mean, we got loads of guest singers on we’re very happy about, and we’re very proud of it.’
Fast and Frank are performing live at Tamanya Terrace at Radisson Blu Dubai Media Ciy on Thursday November 21st, 9pm-2am. Entry is free.

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