John Foxx | Metamatic

On January 18th, 1980, following his departure from Ultravox the previous year, John Foxx released his first solo record Metamatic.

The album has rightfully been cherished as one of the earliest synth masterpieces, featuring singles such as Underpass and No-One Driving“, which still can be heard in clubs across the world to date.

Here is an excerpt from our Editor Frank Deserto’s interview with John Foxx, where he discusses Metamatic, and its definitive track “Underpass”:

“Underpass” is the track that continues to define your work. What do you feel is the contributing factor to the song’s longevity?

Well, I always wanted to strip things down to the simplest possible level, and I think I got as far as I could there with Metamatic, many tracks on Metamatic only had six tracks- I recorded it on an 8 track machine and I’m pretty sure that “Underpass” only had six tracks- so I was very pleased with that. It was that kind of minimalism that I wanted to get to. I did that to let each sound have as much aural space as possible- that was influenced a lot by dub reggae, which was new at the time. Gareth [Jones], the engineer and I were listening to a lot of that at the time, as it was being made at the same studio. So that influenced the sound of Metamatic dramatically.

I know I often hear “Underpass” out to this day. I’ve also DJed much of your work and that always seems to be the one people respond to above all. I know there were some recent remixes of it released, so that song continues to really inspire people.

Yeah – it’s interesting – I think you get to the point where things become I don’t know, you could say a classic or something like it because you can’t reduce it anymore, you can’t take anything away from it without it disappearing, so I think when things are irreducible like that- they seem to have a life of their own.

Are you tired of that song in any way? I know a lot of musicians tend to shy away from “the hit.”

No, I still enjoy listening to it. At the time, we felt it was successful- it was one of those tracks that you felt worked properly and I still feel like that. I’m glad people like it- it shows very good taste, I think. [chuckles]

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