808 State

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808 State
808 State press kit.jpg
808 State in 1991
Background information
Origin Manchester, England
Years active 1987–present
Associated acts
Past members

808 State are an English electronic music group, formed in 1987 in Manchester,[3] taking their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine. They were formed by Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson, and they released their debut album, Newbuild, in September 1988.[3]

The band secured commercial success in 1989, when their song "Pacific State" was picked up by BBC Radio 1 DJ Gary Davies.[4]


Martin Price was the owner of a record shop, Eastern Bloc, and was also the founder of the independent record label, Creed.[3] Customers Graham Massey and Gerald Simpson joined with Price to form a hip hop group called Hit Squad Manchester. Soon after, the band shifted to an acid house sound, recording the debut Newbuild in 1988, while using the name 808 State for the first time.

Newbuild was released on Price's own record label. In an interview with Mojo magazine in 2005, Graham Massey explained that the album was recorded over the course of a winter weekend in January 1988 at Spirit Studios, Manchester. The album was named after a Bolton housing co-operative. The record was re-released in 2005 on Aphex Twin's Rephlex Records. Aphex Twin was a huge fan of the record: "It was the next step after Chicago acid, and as much as I loved that, I could relate much better to 808 State. It seemed colder and more human at the same time."[5]

Around the same time, the band also recorded an acid house version of New Order's "Blue Monday". A favourite at The Haçienda's Hot Night, the recording was believed lost until Autechre's Sean Booth asked Massey to dig through his archive of old material. The record was released in 2004 by Rephlex Records. "We didn’t put a lot of thought into it but maybe that’s its charm," said Massey at the time.[6]

Massey had been a member of the band Aqua in the 1970s, along with the violinist Graham Clark, a former pupil of Manchester Grammar School.

The band's song "Pacific State" was released as a single, peaking at number 10 in the UK Singles Chart.[3] Simpson left the group in 1989 to form his own solo project, A Guy Called Gerald. At this point, the remaining personnel enlisted DJs Andrew Barker and Darren Partington, known as the Spinmasters, and recorded the EP, Quadrastate in July 1989.[3] Ninety was released in December 1989.

MC Tunes worked with the band on the 1990 album, The North At Its Heights. The album was a moderate success, reaching number 26 in the UK Albums Chart,[7] and also saw a European and Japanese release. It spawned three UK singles, "The Only Rhyme That Bites" – featuring a sample of "The Big Country" performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic – (UK number 10), "Tunes Splits the Atom" (UK number 18) and "Primary Rhyming" (UK number 67).[3] The first two issues credited MC Tunes versus 808 State, whilst the latter was simply MC Tunes.[7] Tunes later returned in 1996 to work with on a new track, "Pump", taken from 808 State's album Thermo Kings.

808 State's next album was released in 1991, Ex:el, which featured the vocals of Bernard Sumner and Björk. The songs included "In Yer Face" (UK #9), "Cubik" (UK #10) and "Lift" (UK #38).[3]

In October 1991, Price left the group to perform solo production work, eventually forming his own label, Sun Text. The remaining members released a fourth album called Gorgeous, and after that, did some remix work for David Bowie, Soundgarden, and other performers, before returning with the album entitled Don Solaris in 1996. It featured contributions from James Dean Bradfield, who sung vocals on "Lopez", which reached number 20 in the UK Singles Chart.[3] This song was remixed by Brian Eno. The song "Bond" featured vocals by Mike Doughty from the band Soul Coughing and "Azura" featured Lou Rhodes from Lamb. They released a greatest hits compilation album, 808:88:98 in 1998. In 2000, Newbuild was re-released.

Some of the band's work, particularly in the albums Ex:el and Gorgeous show their new wave influences by sampling or featuring new wave icons such as Bernard Sumner on the song "Spanish Heart" and Ian McCulloch on "Moses". The song "Contrique" samples the bassline to Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" and "10 X 10" is a gospel-house track built on the foundation of The Jam's "Start!".[8]

In 2003, they released Outpost Transmission which featured guest collaborations from the Alabama 3 and Guy Garvey from Elbow.

In May 2008, the re-issue of the album Quadrastate completed a trilogy of pre-ZTT releases on CD for the first time. The band is still active, touring and performing DJ sets.

In January 2015, Partington was jailed for 18 months for dealing in heroin and crack cocaine.[9]

Musical style[edit]

808 State's style has been labeled as techno[10] and house, and the band are regarded as "a pioneer of the acid house sound".[10] The band's album, Newbuild, was influential in the development of Madchester and baggy scenes.[11]

Pseudonyms and side projects[edit]

In 1990, 808 State composed the theme tune to the Channel 4 television programme, The Word.[12]

808 State and its various members have recorded under a variety of pseudonyms. An early EP, containing the tracks "Mssage-a-Rama" and "Sex Mechanic", was released under the name Lounge Jays. These tracks have since been re-released by Rephlex Records on the Prebuild LP. Another early EP, Wax on the Melt, was released under the name Hit Squad Mcr. This is the only EP to which all five members of the group (Massey, Price, Simpson, Barker and Partington) contributed simultaneously.

Massey released the solo album Subtracks under the name Massonix on Skam Records. He is also a member of Biting Tongues, an experimental jazz rock group once signed to Factory Records. He has a side project with Toolshed.

Price released a couple of EPs under the name Switzerland.

Barker has produced a small number of tracks as Atlas, Benaco, and remixed various tracks.

Partington has previously recorded under the name Jeep and has a new project in the form of the band Big Unit, a rock band with acid house underpinnings.

Partington and Barker presented the 808 State radio show, firstly on Sunset 102 from 1989 to 1993, and later on Kiss 102 from 1994 to 1997. More recently they have reinvented this as the 808 webio show on BeatWolf Radio.

In 1997, 808 State appeared on the Spawn soundtrack alongside Mansun in the track "Skin Up, Pin Up".

Band members[edit]

Former members[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Additional information[3]
1988 Newbuild
  • Label: Creed
Often cited as a major influence by Autechre[15] and Aphex Twin.[16]
1989 90 57 97 Includes guest vocals from Vanessa Daou.
1991 ex:el
  • Label: ZTT
4 Includes guest vocals from Bernard Sumner and Björk. Martin Price left the band shortly after the album's release.
1993 Gorgeous
  • Label: ZTT
17 Includes guest vocals from Ian McCulloch, Barrington Stuart, Rachel McFarlane and Caroline Seaman. It also features a reworking of UB40's "One in Ten".

A limited vinyl edition album of the album included a bonus 12-inch record unofficially dubbed "Disco". It included the last three tracks from the CD version of the album plus two new tracks. These tracks later appeared on the Forecast compilation.

1996 Don Solaris
  • Label: ZTT
88 Includes guest vocals from Mike Doughty, Lou Rhodes, James Dean Bradfield and Ragnhildur Gísladóttir.

Paul Morley conceived the album's packaging design, evoking the spirit of his similar work for Art of Noise, Propaganda and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, all of whom had albums published by ZTT Records.

2003 Outpost Transmission
  • Label: Circus
Includes guest vocals from Guy Garvey and collaborations with Simian and Alabama 3.

EPs, compilations and remixes[edit]

Year Album Label Additional information
1989 Quadrastate Creed EP
1990 Utd. State 90 Tommy Boy An alternate version of the Ninety album for the United States market. The track "The Fat Shadow (Pointy Head Mix)" is dropped, but additional tracks are included, comprising remixes of Ninety and Quadrastate tracks plus new material.
1993 Forecast Warner Japan Includes various remixes that previously appeared as B-sides on singles for "Plan 9", "Timebomb", "One in Ten" and "Cubik" / "Olympic", as well tracks exclusive to the bonus "Disco" 12-inch given away with a limited edition of the Gorgeous LP.
1994 State to State Feedback Communications / ZTT An album produced exclusively for members of 808 State's official fan club. It featured artwork and packaging designed by The Designer's Republic.

All the tracks were previously unreleased, comprising live performances and tracks from Gorgeous, Quadrastate and Fon Studio sessions.

1996 Thermo Kings Warner Japan Like Forecast before it, Thermo Kings was a Japan-only compilation of various B-sides, this time from the singles for "Bond", "Azura" and "Lopez", as well as a number of previously unreleased tracks.
1998 808:88:98 ZTT A greatest hits compilation, featuring most of 808 State's major single releases. It also includes a new track, "Crash", plus a new remix of "Pacific".
2002 Opti Buk + State to State 2 ZTT Opti Buk DVD promo video collection. Includes the second State to State compilation with previously unreleased tracks from various studio-based sessions.
2004 Prebuild Rephlex A collection of previously unreleased tracks and demos from the Newbuild era. It also includes tracks from an EP released under the pseudonym The Lounge Jays.
2011 Blueprint ZTT / Salvo A career overview, that features newly revisited tracks from years 1988 to 2003 as well as original versions there of, unreleased and released before remixes and two new tracks, "Spanish Ice" and "Metaluna". It also features an extensive booklet with a foreword by Orbital's Phil Hartnoll, archive interview with members of the band by Paul Morley, and contributions from The Prodigy, Simian, Moby and The Future Sound of London.[18]
2012 O.T.E.P. Self-released An EP containing 4 bonus tracks from the Japanese and North American releases of Output Transmission, available as a free download.[19]


  • Newbuild (1999)
  • Quadrastate (2008)
  • 808:90 (2008)
  • ex:el (2008)
  • Gorgeous (2008)
  • Don Solaris (2008)

The reissue of Quadrastate contained three tracks from the "Let Yourself Go" / "Deepville" 12-inch single, plus four previously unreleased tracks from the Quadrastate sessions. The reissue of Ninety was retitled 808:90. All four reissues of 808 State's albums for ZTT Records included a second disc of B-sides, remixes and unreleased tracks from their respective eras. Detailed liner notes and new interviews with all band members were included, written by the journalist Ian Peel.


Year Title Peak chart position Album
1988 "Let Yourself Go" / "Deepville"
1989 "Pacific State" 10 82 17 30 27 Ninety
1990 The Extended Pleasure of Dance (EP) 56
"The Only Rhyme That Bites" (MC Tunes vs. 808 State) 10 21 The North At its Heights
(MC Tunes vs. 808 State)
"Tunes Splits the Atom" (MC Tunes vs. 808 State) 18 28
"Cubik" / "Olympic" 10 23 8 21 ex:el
1991 "In Yer Face" 9 13
"Ooops" (808 State featuring Björk) 42 143 24 13 23
"Lift" / "Open Your Mind" 38 23 27
1992 "The Only Rhyme That Bites" (re-issue) (MC Tunes vs. 808 State) 47 87 single only
"Time Bomb" / "Nimbus" 59 19 36 Gorgeous
"One in Ten" (808 State vs. UB40) 17 19
1993 "Plan 9" 50
"10 × 10" 67 143 43
1994 "Bombadin" 67 3
1996 "Bond" 57 Don Solaris
"Azura" 79
1997 "Lopez" (808 State featuring James Dean Bradfield) 20
1998 "Pacific 808:98" / "Cubik" (remixes) 21 3 808:88:98
1999 "The Only Rhyme That Bites 99" (MC Tunes vs. 808 State) 53


  1. ^ Solaris, Don (2 October 2008). "808 State". The Quietus. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Sicko, Dan (2010). Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814337120. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 311–312. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  4. ^ IMO Records. "808 State Biography", IMO Records, London, Retrieved on 25 January 2012.
  5. ^ Stuart Aitken (February 2005). "Acid Muthas Mental". Mojo Magazine. 
  6. ^ Stuart Aitken (October 2004). "Saved from the vaults, back on the decks". bbc.co.uk. 
  7. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 179–180. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  8. ^ Wood, Sam (1993-02-09). "808 State Defies The Odds Again With A Consistently Fine Album - Philly.com". Articles.philly.com. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  9. ^ 808 State DJ Darren Partington jailed for drug dealing BBC News, 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  10. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "808 State". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Taylor, Steve (2006). The A to X of Alternative Music. A&C Black. p. 97. ISBN 0826482171. 
  12. ^ Simon Donohue (2002-12-31). "Madchester revival may be on the cards – News – Music – Greater Manchester's CityLife". Citylife.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  13. ^ "UK Chart Company". theofficialcharts.com. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  14. ^ a b Australian chart peaks:
  15. ^ O'Leary, Matt. "Artworker of the Week #43: Autechre"[permanent dead link], Kultureflash, 2005.
  16. ^ Allmusic.com
  17. ^ a b "Certified Awards Search Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on 29 August 2011. Note: User needs to enter "808 State" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  18. ^ "ZTT Records – 808 State - Blueprint". ZTT Records. 22 July 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "808 State - O.T.E.P.". Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". chartstats.com. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  21. ^ a b "allmusic ((( 808 State > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 

External links[edit]