Hello Shabs. Our audience, as well as the nation, loved watching you live on Channel 4 and we wanted to find out more about you as a person.
So, 24 years of E. You must be mum and dad (mad!)!?
I’m not mum and dad. I’m as sane as the next person, I just love going to raves and getting ruined. No different to the rockers, hippies, teddy boys, mods, skinheads. The people who made that music what it is today may be in their 40’s and 50’s still go out and take what ever substances that go with those scenes. So what’s the difference? The difference being that I take MDMA in all its forms whether it’s pills or in its crystalised form.
People think it’s a seedy drug and someone my age shouldn’t be doing it and I shouldn’t be going raving. I’m from the chemical generation. We were all about ‘fuck politics, fuck the recession, lets take as many drugs as we can and go and have it’. We had so much power but we never used it.
Seriously though, what affect, if any, has this had on you as a person, both physically and psychologically? Does it ever stand in the way of what you want to do?
Physically I don’t think it has done much to me. My job has done the most damage. Raving has just helped it along at a faster pace. If you was to look at me you wouldn’t think I’m 38. I think prolonged drug use preserves the body. Well, it’s worked for me. One night out takes me three days to recover.
Psychologically I think I’m all right, though I’m no doctor. I experience memory loss but I smoke weed and suffered a major head injury a few years ago so that symptom can’t be put into the equation. I don’t get depression. I do feel like I’ve been hit by a bus for three days but that’s all!
Where was your first rave/clubbing experience and what was it about that experience that you left you wanting more?
I don’t really remember my first rave or clubbing experience, as I was quite young. What made me want more was I could go to a rave and get smashed up properly and no one would say anything to me. I would be listening to music with sounds no one had ever heard before. You have to remember when the scene started all music was made using instruments. They tried making pop music with synths but that didn’t really last, and bass lines were heavier then, Ragga (dancehall) bass lines.
Are you mostly moved by one genre of music, or do you generally like most dance music?
I love Hardcore. I’ve been listening to it, in all its forms, for 20 years or so. I also like D’n’B and Oldskool. I can’t stand House and Garage. I love dance music that’s hard, dark and dirty.
What has been you’re most memorable event/rave of 2012 so far?
Definitely Sundance at the beginning of July. I love my Hardcore, but since I went to that event I’ve been obsessed with it.
With regards to the MDMA trials, why did you decide to participate? Was there anything you wanted to achieve by taking part?
I was on a random night out and Ch4 were there. They asked every one in that gaff if they wanted to do it everyone said no. They didn’t want to be filmed either. As you saw I was ruined, I was like; yeah I’ll do it. For a couple of months I was thinking I made a mistake, maybe I should phone them and tell them I don’t want to be part of it, but my gut instinct was telling me to go through with it. I made my mind up three times not to do that program, but for some reason I physically could not make the call to tell them I’d changed my mind.
I have no regrets for being in that program. I didn’t really want to achieve anything as such. They asked me a few questions and I just answered them to the best of my ability.
How do you feel your experience on the show went?
It went well considering I thought they would portray MDMA in a bad light. As John Snow said to me before the show started, “Shabs you’re the star of the show”.
Do you think the show portrayed Ecstasy and MDMA as truthfully as possible?
I think the show promoted the drug more than anything else. All the sheep know about it now and they’re probably thinking that’s what my son, daughter, husband, girlfriend, look like that when they come home from a night out.
I can compare it to when Zammo McGuire, a fictional character from Grange Hill, overdosed on Heroin. When I saw that I was fascinated by it. I never knew what drugs were until I saw that and it made me want to try them.
At one point you mentioned seeing fellow clubbers/ravers die on the dance floor right in front of you, due to taking too much. It seems that some people took that comment literally, whereas some assumed you meant that they had passed out and then recovered shortly after. Just to clarify, what DID you mean by that?
When I mentioned seeing people dying I was telling the truth. I remember a hot summer in 1994 and hectic records were holding the launch night of Slipmatt's remix of Sunset Regimes - Crowd Control. It was being held at the rhythm Station in Aldershot. It was an old cinema with a capacity of about 700 people. This particular night they must of had 1200 people in there. You couldn’t move! The heat was unbearable, the taps in the toilet had been turned off and you weren’t allowed outside! Anyway, at some point in the night some guy was dancing between my friend and I and all of a sudden he fell to the floor. Security barged every one out the way and removed the guy and when we left in the morning we spoke to security. They said he’d died on the way to hospital. I always think about that night. I’ve seen it happen at loads of raves in the 90s.
Do you think that irresponsible substance use is a real concern within people who use drugs recreationally?
When you’re taking drugs you only think about your self, not the consequences of your actions. If something happens it’s up to everyone else to pick up the pieces, sad but true.
According to the survey that Ch4 conducted, an average of one third of all Ecstasy tablets tested, contained no MDMA whatsoever. Does this put you off taking E?
Personally I think the blame lies with the person your getting your MDMA from. If they were honest they would tell you if it’s any good or not. If it isn’t, go elsewhere.
Also, some people ‘cut’ it with other stuff to make more profit. You just have to use your common sense.
What happens now? Will you continue to stay in contact with Ch4 regarding the trials and what feedback/support, if any, have/will you receive?
I haven’t had any contact with Channel 4 since the show went live, but life goes on. The only difference is I got half the country on my back. A lot of the things I could do before the programme I’m now unable to do. I have to watch myself and some of the people I talk to.
Any there any big events still to come that you're going to be smashing the grannie out of?
The next events I’ll be attending are: Labrynth at Brixton Jamm, H.T.I.D. @ Motion in Bristol, then H.T.I.D. @ The Q Club, Birmingham.
If we could have picked any DJ or MC to interview you, who would it be and why?
DJ Vibes was my all-time favourite Hardcore DJ. We could of sat down and reminisced about the glory days of rave. MC Shabba S would have been the ideal MC to interview me. He was a wicked MC, even from a young age when he used to play at Telepathy back in the day.
What does the future of rave/clubbing mean to you? Do you have any expectations about how things may evolve, the drugs, the clubs or the music?
I can’t really speculate about the future of the scene. As long as there is music being produced, people will always go raving. I’d like to see it go back to how it used to be. Go to every event and there are 10 to 15,000 people attending. As for the drugs, MDMA and raves go hand in hand and as long as it’s there, raves will always be there.
I know this is a hard question, but is there one single moment in your raving history that you can pick out that stands tall above the rest. It could be a real, character defining moment, or an epiphany that you may have experienced, or a feeling that you had at an event, or even seeing a certain DJ/hearing a certain tune? Is there anything at all that stands out for you?
There are so many things that stand out, which is what raving is all about I think.
I was at Dreamscape @ The Bath & West Show Ground one year. I was ruined, I had the shakes quite badly and was trying to light a cigarette but I couldn’t light it, the shakes were that bad. This girl came out of nowhere, held my hand, lit my cigarette and said, “There you go darling” and she walked off, never to be seen again.Those were the days of proper pills. I must have taken about 5 or 6 of them.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter about the music or the rave, it’s what you get up to while your there.
If you haven't already done so, you can catch up with the Drugs Live 'Ecstasy Trial' on 4oD: