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Tidy Trax' Andy Pickles: Hard House's No 1 Jive Bunny

Author: Jonty Adderley
Monday, April 7, 2003
"All the kids that are into the hard house/ Tidy sound today were around ten or eleven when Jive Bunny was happening and I find people coming to clubs with Jive Bunny albums to be signed, which is a bit bizarre. People might want to poke fun, but it doesn't affect me, I'm not embarrassed about it in any shape or form."

15 years after selling over ten million records as Jive Bunny, Andy Pickles sits at the top of the hard house tree, both as deputy chairman of the genre's leading label Tidy Trax and as a world renowned DJ in the Tidy Boys. While the dreadfully cheesy megamix hits of Jive Bunny might seem a million miles away from the banging, hard as nails dance music he these days promotes and plays, both styles combine massive popularity with minimal critical acclaim, not that Andy's concerned about cool. Upfront, direct and very much the stereotype straight-talking no-nonsense Northerner, he's as happy to talk down rival genres ('Progressive music might be good for mellower moments, in your car, for example') as he is to big up his beloved 'hard house' ('Hard Dance' is a crap term in my opinion, your mum and dad dance, whereas we make music that's hard," he says.).

Chatting to Skrufff's Jonty Adderley as he finalised plans for Tidy's latest sold out weekender at Prestatyn's Holiday camp, North Wales, he's both friendly and frank.

Skrufff: You're latest Tidy Weekender sold out in January, three months early, how much did you expect ticket sales to go so well-

Andy Pickles: "We were expecting it would sell out but we were surprised at how quickly it actually did. It's our third such event and the momentum has been building quite rapidly since the first one but given the fact that everyone in January is skint after Christmas we we're particularly pleased. Tickets went on sale on the 6th and we'd sold out before the end of the month so we were incredibly surprised. We'd thought people would wait until pay day at the end of the month to get their tickets as lots of people did. With the latest event, I'd estimate we could have easily sold 2,000 more tickets."

Skrufff: I always imagine holiday camps still conforming to the Hi-De-Hi, 50s image, is it true people have to buy their own electricity for each chalet-

Andy Pickles: "Yeah, you're right, it's just like that, it's everything that you'd expect it to be, the holiday camps haven't really changed from the 50s and 60s, they're still what they are. The difference is that it becomes the Tidy Village, or the Tidy community for three days. The facilities are what they are. There are three standards of accommodation with the VIP chalets being decent apartment type spaces, going down to what's called the Popular Accommodation, which are basically student digs- basic rooms. But people aren't really there to sleep, they're there to have a good time, meet up with their mates and enjoy three days of seaside madness. That's the appeal of the weekenders."

Skrufff: You cheerfully used the label 'hard house', where do you stand on the hard dance/ hard house label issue-

Andy Pickles: "The boundaries have certainly blurred, when we DJ now we often get people approaching us saying 'Play some hard house' when the definition of hard house has changed. When we play now as the Tidy Boys the sound of today is an amalgamation of what used to be hard house, what used to be trance, what used to be techno. That label 'Hard Dance' is a crap term in my opinion, your mum and dad dance, whereas we make music that's hard. The whole dance scene has dropped off over the last 18 months as far as clubs and record labels are concerned, though for me what's still the most exciting and dynamic scene is the hard house scene. I still call it the hard house scene because it's house music in my opinion. Trance to me is downtempo, melodic progressive music, we play hard music instead."

Skrufff: Why do you think hard music appears to be more immune to the current declin