Story Behind The Song: M/A/R/R/S "Pump Up The Volume"


After a cute post-grad lady DJ at the University of Chicago defrocked me whilst Lonely Is An Eyesore played on a nearby stereo, I hastily began buying anything with a 4AD logo on it.  Before I knew it, I was neck-deep in Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies and Cocteau Twins records.  Without exception, each new 4AD release would challenge my senses and reshape my musical world.

So why was I so resistant to play the new single "Pump Up The Volume" by a group called M/A/R/R/S when it showed up on my desk at the record store?  After all, it was 4AD-approved, yet based on the cover art, I had to check twice to make sure there wasn't a Wax Trax! logo on the back.  This was, upon listening, a very house-insired tune and we all know where House music began, right?  (Pssst.  Chicago)



Even before it was released, "Pump Up The Volume" had hit the UK dance clubs with such force that anyone within earshot of the tune began convulsing like a spasmatic monkey in heat.  Released in numerous configurations, the song rocketed to #1 on the UK singles charts while garnering heavy airplay in every corner of the world.  Here in America, MTV's "120 Minutes" may not have played the video every damn Sunday night, but it sure as hell seemed like it.

With all of the success, it would not have been unreasonable to expect to see M/A/R/R/S making the rounds. I mean, your single is blowing up all over the world, it only makes sense that at some point we'd see them out and about, promoting the song and enjoying the spoils of their labor, but such a thing never came to be.



Of course, the song itself could just as easily never happened at all.  After two of his label's acts, Colourbox and A.R. Kane, had confided in him their interest to do a more dance-oriented record, he put them in the studio together in hopes that lightning might strike.

What happened instead was that both bands took an immediate dislike to the way that the other worked in the studio and refused to spend another minute in the same room together.

Still trying to make something out of the quickly-failing collaboration, Watts-Russell sent both bands to their neutral corners and demanded that each submit a track that the other act would then add their own musical contributions to and the results would be released as a single.

The resulting single featured the Colourbox song "Pump Up The Volume" on one side and A.R. Kane's "Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance)" on the other.  Almost immediately, the Colourbox tune began dominating the conversation and, ultimately, A.R. Kane's musical additions to the track were stripped away completely.

Even so, you'd think for as successful as the song was that some configuration of M/A/R/R/S would have toured or, I dunno, released a second single?

At one point, Colourbox considered touring under the name, but could not afford to buy out A.R. Kane's rights to the name.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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