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Left To Their Own Devices
Looking forward to their long-awaited Electric Picnic headline appearance, Leftfield’s Neil Barnes talks about putting the legendary dance ACT back together.
Paul Nolan, 02 Sep 2010
ne of the must-see performers at Electric Picnic are Leftfield, whose awesome performance at Tripod in May is the best gig I’ve seen this year. Having delivered two masterful albums in Leftism and Rhythm And Stealth, the group went on a decade-long hiatus, only for Neil Barnes to re-emerge with a new live band in 2010 (the other co-founder, Paul Daley, opted to sit out the reunion).
So: why did Barnes decide that now was the optimum time for the group to reform?
“There was always interest in the band,” he responds. “Every year, we’d get asked, ‘Are you going to get back together and do some gigs?’ We were both doing different things. Then last year it came around again, and I talked to a lot of people, and listened back to the albums. I thought I could make it relevant and fun, and that was the important thing.”
Why did Leftfield put a stop to their activities in the first place?
“It seems like I can’t even remember,” admits Neil. “We worked together for 15 years to get it to that stage. In retrospect it seems like a silly thing to do, but we always did things in a way which didn’t really fit in. So I suppose it was bound to end in a strange fashion.”
What has Neil been up to in the interim?
“I’ve done loads of things,” he replies. “I’ve done a lot of music, although not obviously under the name Leftfield. I worked on a lot of music for films and adverts, things like that. I also spent time on my own music, which was intended for release, but I haven’t really done anything with it. I haven’t felt the pressure to do anything - I’ve just been enjoying life, and doing other things.”
Have you released any music since Leftfield was put on the backburner?
“No, and Paul’s the same,” explains Neil. “We’ve both done things, but never felt it was right. There was nothing that we felt was as good as what we’d done before. We’ve been a bit hard on ourselves, we don’t chuck music out. It’s difficult to follow up something like Leftfield as well, you see, because people want that. They’re not happy unless it’s up to that standard, so it’s a strange position to be in.”