Futureshock emerged in 1999 from their label Urban Hero before tweaking the ear of house legend Terry Farley who signed them to JBO. Phil and Alex were nearing their 35th release for Urban Hero and had conjured up numerous nom de plumes (best one: Alex In Wonderland) before deciding that, perhaps, it was a jolly good idea to stick with the same name and if the music they were making didn't always come out the same way, so what All their music from now on would be Futureshock music. And it would be good.
Phil (older, chattier) was born in the shadow of the Bull Ring. So Brummi eis he that his first musical memory was "probably UB40, Everybody in Birmingham knows somebody in UB40," he claims. He also remembers having "the piss ripped at school for liking disco" though his formative years saw him drawn towards linoleum and the nascent sounds of electro.
When the two eights clashed and house music emerged Phil gave up his job selling electrical components after securing a DJ slot at 'Ritzy' style club Pagoda Park doing housey hour slots while the other DJ - whose main job was entertaining hen parties 'on the mic' - took a break.
Alongside friend Adam Presdee, Phil worked for several years on old school edits and cut'n'paste versions of house hits. They formed the Urban Hero label for their multi-monikered original releases and it was around this time that Phil bumped into Alex in the corridor of the studio he was working in.
Alex (younger, less chatty) was also into electro and breakdancin' when he was a kid though he grew up in the far more authentic surrounds of East Coast America (Baltimore). He moved to the Midlands when he was ten on the maternal promise that "all the best musicians come from England ," the fact that he liked Duran Duran sealed his geographical fate. As a teen Alex had an ambition to host his own radio show and he met a guy who recorded radio jingles. Helping out in his studio Alex eschewed cash for studio time so he could tinker on his own music. Now a fully-fledged studio engineer to Phil's pro-DJ Alex has even engineered an Ozzy-less Black Sabbath in his time. He's still the studio geek into spending inordinate amounts of time on E-Bay shopping for old synths.
Alex became an honorary Urban Hero. Alex's most important release from this era was an early UK garage hit 'Diamond Rings' as Ex Presidents. Now afforded legendary status it regularly features in classic UK garage top tens and is often bootlegged. Phil and Alex also attracted a young Mike Skinner to their studio. "Mike from The Streets used to come by and play us demo's he'd done on his PC," Alex recalls. "He needed to go to London to get the Cockney accent. What he's doing now is amazing." Shame they didn't sign him up to Fuju!
If Phil could choose three words that he thinks Alex would pick to describe him they would be talkative, opinionated and considerate.
If Alex could choose three words that he thinks Phil would pick to describe him they would be moody, self-absorbed and "hopefully" talented. "I know! I shouldn't have said 'talented', that's so arrogant," Alex back-tracks. Modest too then.
Whilst holding down the mantle of remixers du jour through 2000 Futureshock honed their sound. Phil: "Underworld would send us their parts ('Jumbo' broken into it's single recorded components) and it gave us a real insight into how they'd made the tune. We'd break it all down to the elements then put our twist on it." The remixes were made with big rooms in mind, Futureshock cut through the progressive and trance sounds by keeping it funky and making sure they let their drums do the talking.
"We were so into Todd Terry's drum sounds. We wanted to do drums like Todd and put electronic sound over the top. No one else was really doing that. We bought the same drum machine Todd and Mantronix used." The so-called euphoric breakdowns of most tech-house and progressive records were usually left wanting, wanting a beat that kicked hard. Futureshock's kicked like a mule. Alex's favourite game is spotting who has nicked their huge kick-drum from the mighty 'Sparc'. Tom Stephan has so far 'fessed up.
The follow-up to 'Sparc' - 'The Question (Why, Why, Why)' paid homage to Underworld sampling an old b-side. In the fall of 2002 Futureshock embarked on tour with Underworld making their live debut showcasing tracks from their fantastic album. 'Sparc' was reviewed across the techno, house and progressive pages of the mags on its release - alongside a track "that doesn't sound like anything we've done before", a track with an MC from the Reinforced drum'n'bass stable, a track featuring a rap that recalls the hip house era, a track written by and featuring Ben Onono who was involved in the house hit of two summers ago 'It Just Won't Do' and a track "that is perfectly capable of clearing any dancefloor the world over" (this is a good thing). No doubt all underpinned with their booming drums.