Lost Club Culture: MC Man Parris
Written by Fliss Baker
Our second helping on our acid/rave scene is led by no other than the main man MC Man Parris himself, the resident lyrical master at the Eclipse. We chatted to the man famous for bursting onto the revolutionary rave scene and taking his indisputable talent up and down the country and across international seas, working only with the cream of the crop. Enjoy this amazing interview. He truly is an icon oozing everything you need to know about this era and believe me, you’ll be glued to every word.
So, tell us how you started out on the music scene in Coventry?
Well, like any 10-year-old boy I used to use my parents 7-inch records as skimmers flying through the air when one day my mum was doing the ironing and suggested I stop using the records for skimming and play me some music… so I did! I noticed how happy my mum was and I had her dancing and singing which made me very happy so from that day on I was hooked. I used to record the radio one chart show and pause the tape recorder when the DJ spoke but that sounded very messy so I would save my money and buy records from Jill Hanson’s Record shop to make nice recordings on TDK Cassettes to give away. As I got older, I was allowed to go to Tiffany’s under 16’s where I enjoyed Funk and Ska delivered by DJ Tom Fox and the legendary live gig’s Tiffany’s was famous for, bringing The Specials, The Clash, Madness, Bad Manners to name a few. I would go to all the Blues parties in and around Hillfields, Coventry, where I learnt to “Toast” which is like rapping to reggae. I wanted equipment so badly I had speakers made – it was the cheapest way for me to own my music equipment. I also brought a rusty white transit ford van. My first gig was at the Sir Colin Cambell pub in Coventry city centre upstairs, which was a big success before I went on to play at Shades Night club Coventry, The Three Tunns, Tally Ho, and Park Lane, where I warmed up for International DJ Paul Oakenfold (who gave me a list of records I could not play). I was gutted that I could not play the bangers for that time but a complete honour to warm up for Mr Oakenfold so I was feeding my need and going up the ladder… then the Rave scene stole my life.
As Britain’s first legal all-night rave – what do you think the Eclipse did for acid house and rave culture as a whole?
The Eclipse was like a University for the rave scene. It was like a Job Centre for the musical minds who helped create a Mecca for all ravers up and down the UK. Coventry was on the map for music again and from doing illegal raves with Amnesia House to a legal venue was a dream come true for me – as well as working with all the artists who performed every week alongside International DJ’s and the best Rave bands, DJ’s and MC’s from the UK under our roof. You weren’t anything if you had not worked in the Eclipse, it was the place to be and helped big time with my career being the first MC to work in the Eclipse and MC most nights and events. Coventry’s Eclipse club had become the “8th wonder of the world” for ravers thanks to Stuart Reid and Baz Edwards.
The smiley face was the logo of the subculture rave scene – can you sum up in a few words what you feel it represented?
The Smiley logo was the flag, or badge that represented our scene because it summed up the mood and sent out a positive message to all ravers. It was the sun in the morning after the all-night raves, some would say it represented an Ecstasy Tablet.
Which events was the Eclipse most famous for?
Wow big question as there was so many big events held there. Amnesia House, Bangin’ Tunes, Fantasia, the Eclipse nights like New-Age and Omen events, The Edge nights, Helter Skelter, Dreamscape Energy and ‘The Hit man and Her’ brought television cameras to the venue and was aired on TV.
How was your first gig at the Eclipse and what was the crowd’s reaction?
To be honest I was scared. It was a brand new experience for me – the ravers came from all over the UK and I was MC’ing for big named DJ’s for the first time. The crowd helped me through the night as they went crazy on the dance floor, there was lots of hugs and meeting and greetings. Amazing top of the range lasers fanned down the whole venue floor and a heavy weight sounds system which vibrated your belly. After half an hour, I felt like a star shouting all sorts to the ravers so for me it was emotional, scary, enlightening, special and an instant love affair with the raver’s who made the night complete. It was a sell out and packed to the rafters.
If you could describe the atmosphere of the Eclipse in five words, what would they be?
Electric, Happy, Proud, Emotional, Exciting.
Listening to one of the archive tapes from The Eclipse, the first track that hit me was ‘Such a good feeling’, Brother’s in Rhythm. This title seems to sum up the hedonistic, euphoric vibe of the acid house era. What tracks sum up that time period for you?
Xpansions – Move your body, Tricky Disco – Disco, The Prodigy – Charly, Doc Scott – N.H.S, 808 State – Pacific State.
I read that all your MC lyrics were completely unrehearsed and you’ve been quoted in a previous interview as saying, “I hear words out of records”. Tell us more about your style of MC’ing and where you got your lyrical inspiration from?
It’s true. I would close my eyes and see the list of words I could choose from in a split second so after a while, as soon as I would hear the track playing, the words would appear and it became a cognitive thing. It was all brand new so the only inspiration I had was Hip Hop tunes like Derek b’s track “Bullet from a gun”, Eric b & Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend” and Public Enemy’s “Bring the noise”. I would imagine I was on the dance floor thinking what I would like to hear so I would chant happy stuff, anti-political, love & hate and spiritual.
How did the relationship work between the MC and DJ? Who did you have the biggest connection with and why?
Coventry’s own DJ Doc Scott embodied the whole Coventry mood for me. He is a deep DJ and I am a deep MC so the passion would shine through. Neil Trix & Luke, DJ Sucks, Ratty & Tango, Distortion Cru, Jay Holder, Parks and Wilson, Carl Williams, Dobbo. I had a very good relationship with most artists and could gel with them in no time but at the same time I was writing the MC code being one of the first MC’s on the scene so the DJ’s were with me. I also had a very good relationship with DJ Carl Cox, Sasha, Grooverider, Fabio, Clarkee, Jumpin Jack Frost, DJ Nipper the list goes on.
What’s the maddest thing you’ve ever seen go off inside a club? (If you can tell…!)
Ha ha! First thing that comes to mind was a summers night in the legendary Shelly’s Club in Stoke on Trent at an Amnesia House event. The night was kicking and some lad came up in the DJ box muttering something. I told him “I can’t understand you”, then Neville Fivey (MC Loud ‘n’ Nasty) said Jefrey “look down” so I did and to my shock he had his “willy out!” Me and Nev had pure shock on our faces so I shouted, “SECURITY TO THE DJ BOX”. He got escorted out the door but left us in pure shock! I always wonder what happened to that lad… is he a stripper now? Lol.
How do you feel the house music scene has changed over the last 25 years?
Well rave music’s elements are in everything from adverts on the tv, movies, music charts but it has changed. It’s been diluted and segregated into sub styles so although very successful for many it made venues harder to fill because of the more different styles emerging – even snobbery as the House music posse moved away from the rave crew. However, Radio Stations and TV who put it all down with negative media coverage all took a U-turn and now it’s still one of the biggest influences in the music scene today on all major radio stations and clubs worldwide.
What would you say were the defining factors that led to a decline in the acid house scene, resulting in the closure of the Eclipse in 1993?
Well like any new fad that gets popular it creates a lot of competition. Ravers wanted to travel to new cities and clubs, clubs were finding it hard to book DJ’s because other organisations were booking them up early and most ravers followed the Top DJ’s. Another reason is what I said earlier… segregation and the forming of new styles like Techno, Hardcore, Drum & bass and the police was getting more and more involved because of the Criminal Justice bill and Public Order Act 1994 “anti-social” behaviours. On a raver’s level when it all went legal it lost its appeal. Some clubs and events booked bigger DJ’s from overseas pushing the price up for entrance which was too much for a lot of ravers. Plus, we were all getting older, families were being made and there was bad publicity about Ecstasy.
You have travelled all over the world working with legendary DJ’s and producers including Carl Cox and Sasha? What have you been most proud being part of?
Yes, I have been blessed. The rave scene has taken me to nearly every town in-between Scotland to Brighton and Ibiza to Germany, Portugal etc but my best ever rave was “The Book of Love” Amnesia House & Nemesis when co-owner Micky Lioness and wife then Trean got married in front of 15,000 ravers with DJ Grooverider as best man with a real Vicar. Don’t get much better than that “word” R.I.P Micky!
What do you think Coventry needs to do to inject house music at its best back into Coventry?
“A bloody miracle” ha! No, on a serious tip it needs a couple of suitable venues like a super club in the City Centre. I think Coventry being one of the most musical towns in its day has lost its character. It was a place where top bands were made, top producers… the Mecca of the Midlands. It’s like it has been driven out of the city, so my message is “support music”.
So, what are you up to now? Tell us more!
Well I was teaching for years before government cuts, but I still DJ the clubs and MC at events up and down the country, residency at Buxton Town. I am looking forward to a big rave on 4th Nov 2017 where Amnesia House teams up with Pandemonium – both massive organisations – to be held at the Rainbow Complex Birmingham. I am also writing a book about my journey within the rave scene and a music album “It’s all I know”, then after that who knows… I’m just a spirit of musical destiny.
Massive shout out to MC Man Parris for this interview – what a funkin’ ledge. We’ll keep you posted for when his book is published. I, for one, will be putting it to the top of my reading list…
Listen to DJ Slipmatt & MC Man Parris, 1991, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32tyvhtQkeM