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Altern-8 talk ahead of Stafford show

By Tom Oakley | Staffordshire entertainment | Published:

Armoured with chemical warfare suits and bright yellow dust masks, dance-duo Altern-8 went from mixing tracks in their Stafford bedrooms to appearing on Top of the Pops.

Altern-8's Mark Archer returns to Stafford later this month for a homecoming show

Formed in 1990, Mark Archer and Chris Peat changed the sound of electronic music forever – influencing a host of huge artists during their journey though rave culture.

It all began as a side project to techno outfit Nexus 21 and together, their tunes were all over the UK charts in the early '90s, with album Full On... Mask Hysteria narrowly missing out on a Top 10 slot.

Now, as founding member Archer celebrates his 30th year in music, he is preparing to return to the town for a homecoming show – his first since 2004.

Altern-8's Mark Archer returns to Stafford later this month for a homecoming show – outside the Empire State building

The DJ will be at Redrum – formerly The Pie & Ale House – on Friday, June 15 as part of Stafford-based promoter Core's upcoming event.

And ahead of the show, after recent sets in the likes of Ibiza, he cannot wait to head back to his hometown – where he's only ever played a handful of times.

"To be honest, it's possibly about the fourth time I've ever played in Stafford," he told the Express & Star.

"It's not somewhere I ended up playing much. Everyone tended to go to Shelley's in Stoke or the Eclipse in Coventry, because there wasn't anything in Stafford, so I've never really had the chance to play there.

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"Whenever it's offered I try and make sure I do – I am really looking forward to being able to play there.

"Growing up in the countryside there was absolutely nothing going on.

"So as soon as I was old enough it was about going into Stafford and to Top of the World – it's gone through so many changes but it was vital at times.

Altern-8's Mark Archer returns to Stafford later this month for a homecoming show

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"I assumed that every town had someone who was interested in the rave scene.

"It is a very difficult town to crack but it did have it's thing going on.

"In the early 90s there were a few bands in the charts. People who were into it – it gives them a sense of pride. Who would have thought it'd come from Stafford of all places?"

For those not too familiar with Altern-8 and acid house music, those who follow politics might recognise his partner Chris Peat's name.

It was 1992 and during the height of their success, he entered as a candidate for the Stafford constituency in the General Election.

Peat represented the Hardcore (Altern8-ive) party – polling 158 votes and finishing in fourth place.

Archer, originally from Gnosall, but now living in Redditch, was also part of Stafford-based dance music duo Bizarre Inc with Dean Meredith – before leaving in 1990.

Altern-8's Mark Archer returns to Stafford later this month for a homecoming show

The group, who continued as a trio following his departure, were best known for hit tracks including I'm Gonna Get You and Playing With Knives.

Some of Altern-8's biggest tracks included E-Vapor-8 and No 3 hit Active-8 (Come with Me) – the latter which was performed on Top of the Pops in 1992.

Just five years ago, a campaign to get the single to number one – after it was tipped to the top by Michael Jackson's Black and White – was launched and while it didn't quite reach top spot, it still made the Top 40 for a second time.

Today, Archer regularly plays solo sets across the world – even closing Glastonbury's Arcadia stage several years ago in front of 40,000 people.

And despite his career being filled successes, he insists he has never let himself get too carried away.

He added: "A couple of years ago, I was at Glastonbury. You've got about 40,000 people right beneath you – those experiences don't happen often.

"It was 1988 when I bumped into Dean in Stafford and 30 years since we made our first tune.

Altern-8’s Mark Archer returns to Stafford later this month for a homecoming show

"Even now people are digging back and listening to the music on You Tube thinking it's brand new stuff.

"People come up to me at gigs and say 'my dad was brought up on your music!'

"There was never a point where we thought we'd made it though. Even after the first Nexus 21 album – the studio closed down – I thought it was the end.

"Loads of people have a preconceived idea, that you have a chart hit and you're made for life. I've lost my house and been times where I've not had enough money to buy petrol.

"Each tune you think could be a flop and it could be your last but I am very lucky to be able to do what I do."

Altern-8's Mark Archer returns to Stafford later this month for a homecoming show

Featuring alongside Archer on the bill for the 'Core Presents: Homecoming' event are fellow Stafford-based DJs Jack Speed and Kalumbo – featuring Jack Gardner and Ethan Lloyd.

Core founder Ben Cooke, aged 21, said: "We had wanted to put on an event in Stafford for a while now.

"And seeing as Mark is embarking on his 30th anniversary tour, it seemed like a perfect fit.

Altern-8's Mark Archer returns to Stafford later this month for a homecoming show

"The night is going to be an absolute blast, we hope to see you all down there to witness the homecoming of a Stafford legend."

Tickets for event, which begins at 10pm, are available from £8.50 via www.facebook.com/coremusicltd

Tom Oakley

By Tom Oakley
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist

Express & Star reporter responsible for covering Walsall and Staffordshire. Got a story? Email tom.oakley@expressandstar.co.uk or call 01902 319482.

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