Portishead on: collaborating with Public Enemy

Public Enemy (c) Shot2bits.net

Last weekend The Quietus spent a glorious couple of days at the Primavera Festival in Barcelona, revelling in all sorts of superlative noise from the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Animal Collective, The Sonics, Devo, Shellac, and not a fetid British indie band in sight – check out our associates at DrownedinSound’s coverage here. One of the most notable events of one of the best festivals of the summer was when Chuck D joined Portishead onstage to rap a few lines to ‘Machine Gun’. We spoke to Public Enemy obsessive Geoff Barrow about what the collaboration meant to him:

"There was a phonecall to Barry from ATP, who was with them in Edinburgh at the time, and we said, ‘look, what are the chances that we could get in touch and do this thing’. We met up but we had no idea if he actually wanted to do it or not. He said, ‘don’t set anything up, I’ll just come along’. I don’t know whether it was actually better in our minds than it actually was out there, but it was a boyhood fantasy. I could quite happily give up now, which is why I was just laughing all the way through, fucking Chuck D’s there!

"For me, Rebel Without a Pause and Bum Rush the Show were massive turning points in my life, musically. We tried to get Public Enemy for the ATP we curated but couldn’t, and then when we knew they were going to do this stage at Primavera, we had to ask them really. You definitely feel like some fucking tit talking to them, they’re so heavy. I think I said ‘we would be honoured’ about 12 times. Did I get nervous? Fucking right I did, absolutely nervous. I saw them at the side of the stage and did this really feeble salute, a Sunshine coach thumbs up, but I think he got it."

Watch Chuck D do ‘Machine Gun’ with Portishead at Primavera:

Public Enemy photograph courtesy of Shot2bits. Check DrownedinSound shortly for an interview with Geoff Barrow all about his excellent Invada label.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today