The support that the crew have had has been truly incredible, with everyone from Fabio to Grooverider and Andy C to Goldie speaking out in their favour.
Last year, Bad Company UK came from relative obscurity to knock the d&b scene sideways.
As they prepare to unleash another long-player, Knowledge trys to keep them still for five minutes... For a few years the four members of Bad Company UK operated as single and double entities in the middleweight sphere of drum & bass. Jason Maldini (Maldini) was collaborating with Darren White (D-Bridge) as Future Forces while Dan Stein (Absolute Zero) was working with Michael Wojcicky as Fresh & Vegas for labels like Renegade Hardware and Matrix's Metro imprint.
In 1998 they joined forces to form Bad Company UK and released 'The Nine', a monster of a tune that promoted them instantly into the heavyweight league. Undeterred, they met the pressure with a leading left jab ('The Pulse' released on Rider's Prototype), a potent right uppercut ('Iraq' via Formation) and a killer left cross ('The Fear') that left the d&b fraternity reeling. Then they went in for the kill, unleashing a series of bass-heavy body blows and steely karate chops with their long-player 'Inside The Machine'. Within a year, Bad Company UK had climbed to the top of the heap and become the official Champions Of Drum & Bass.
"I never expected us to blow up like we did," admits Darren. "I mean, we put 'The Nine' out first and that blew up on it's own merit. Then we found out about the Prototype release and at first we were like 'right, yeah, we've heard that before from other people', but then it happened, and in a short space of time which helped us a lot. I suppose we were like a breath of fresh air really, something that the scene needed."
The support that the crew have had has been truly incredible, with everyone from Fabio to Grooverider and Andy C to Goldie speaking out in their favour. This is of course a large reason for their having come a long way so quickly in a scene that's almost hermetically sealed to outsiders, but there's no smoke without fire and the Bad Company UK boys have certainly set ears ablaze with their sound.
"We just wanted to infuse some energy," states Dan. "We always used to talk about bringing back the hardcore, and although everyone's now taken that literally, it always meant just recapturing the energy of hardcore. At the end of the day I suppose we've established our own sound in the scene, which is a hard thing to do."
In between now and then, the crew have been coping with the repercussions of the success of their first album, last year's 'Inside The Machine'. For the most part this has manifested itself as a slew of DJ dates around the world. In between their hectic schedules though they've also had to find the time to record new material. Remarkably, they've already managed to get enough material together to make another, titled 'Digital Nation'.
"It's not really an album as such," explains Dan. "but it's not a compilation either. We do so many tracks that we end up not putting out. Then we get people asking us where such and such a track is and when it will be released and when we tell them it's gone they can't believe it! So we thought we'd better do another album and put together the best ones that we've done in the last year."
Less an album than a snapshot of where the crew are it may be, but 'Digital Nation' still rolls like thunder. Intense and energetic in equal amounts it unveils a slight maturing of their sound but is still underlined with their indefinable dynamism. Featuring a number of cuts ('Crucafixion', 'Son Of Nitrous') that have been rinsed on dubplate for the last few months in the clubs, it bristles all over with that relentless BC energy that gets completely under your skin.
"If there's something we're playing and people are making noise about then it's difficult to ignore it," offers Darren in further explanation of the album. "Sometimes you feel guilty because there's punters out there who are into it as much as you but who can't get hold of dubplates. There's an element of guilt there that says you have to release those tracks, which is why we carry on releasing stuff. But to be honest, we'd rather not be - we'd rather wait and come with something really special."
It's no real secret that the 'something really special' is their plan to record a live album and embark on a subsequent live tour. 'Digital Nation' should give them the time they need to progress it from vision to fact. "We've been getting in the studio with our drummer and trying out a couple of vocalists and done some tracks that we're not playing to anyone yet," reveals Jason. "The problem is if we're looking at doing live stuff we can't afford to back that up ourselves as a label because the whole mechanics of doing a tour is quite expensive. In that case we may have to look at getting a major deal for our live thing which is something we've never wanted to do because of the way majors have dealt with drum & bass in the past."
Dan concurs but reckons that patience is the key: "I'd like to be able to get strings sections and stuff but it's expensive and you never know what the result is going to be. It also slows things down and we tend to work very quickly. Where some people will sit down and spend a month on a track like Goldie and Peshay and get strings and horns, we just start writing and roll with that one vibe. If you spend too much time on something you can get bored and do too much stuff with it that doesn't need to be there. We're up for anything, we want to experiment and do things that haven't been done before, but to start off with just a drummer and a vocalist is different enough for us right now."
Taking the drum & bass sound out live is nothing new, yet given the critical and (for some) commercial success of crews like Breakbeat Era, Kosheen and, of course, Reprazent, it's hardly surprising that a next level operation like Bad Company UK are considering it. "A lot of people that are into what we do seem to be people that have come from rock music and that's the tip that we'll probably go off on for our live thing," hints Jason. "I mean, have you seen Barbie recently? Well, her new boyfriend is a blonde guy who's a DJ and his accessories include a box of records and a pair of decks. That goes to show that rock music is dying hard and it's becoming more and more about DJ led music. If that's the case then d&b is the music that will appeal to rock heads. And that's where we come in."