When we first spoke to Altern 8’s Mark Archer about a campaign to get 1991 rave tune Activ-8 (Come With Me) to Christmas number one, there was a Facebook page with over 15,000 likes. The page has since grown to over 28,000 likes and 22 years on from its original release, the single has made it back into the top 40, charting at number 33.
We spoke to Mark again about the emotional journey down memory lane the campaign has taken him.
How are you feeling after the news that Activ-8 made it to number 33 in this year’s Christmas chart?
Absolutely superb! It’s all been a bit weird – it’s been such a long time since I last did all this. I wasn’t expecting to get into the chart. Not because we’ve not had any support – just because I know how many copies you need to sell to get into the charts, and the Christmas chart especially is fiercely competitive.
Where were you expecting the single to chart in the end?
We made number 30 in the mid-weeks but sometimes sales can drop dramatically so I was worried it would drop out of the top 40 by Sunday. But thankfully there was a surge of sales on Friday and Saturday- so people must have been waiting for payday.
It’s such a massive feat to get a 22 year old tune back into the charts – it’s incredible really that a couple of lads from Stafford can get that far. Especially when you think that Orbital got to something like 139 in the mid weeks with their Christmas version of Chime – it’s just crazy. They congratulated us on the position though which was nice – it’s all been very healthy for the rave scene.
Why do you think the campaign resonated with so many people?
I think it’s the whole nostalgia of the rave scene – it was such a big movement. Even on its original release [Activ-8] got into the top ten without airplay. We’ve had support from the evening DJs like Annie Nightingale and Rob Da Bank, like we did from Mark Goodyear back in the 90s but no plays in the daytime. It’s impressive really that a song can get back into the charts with no radio support and no TV presence – Little Mix and Sub Focus who have been constantly on the radio were lower than us. People hold the rave scene very fondly.
I also think because the records weren’t available to download before people wanted to get hold of them. The person behind - a lad called Loz Russell from Brighton just started it because he loved the tune and he can’t believe that it’s come this far. It’s fantastic how much love has been shown. Without the Facebook campaign none of this would have happened.
Once the Facebook campaign was set up – what was the process from there?
Once we knew there was support we then had to go to the record label to see if they would re-release it and they asked if we had any remixes. We hadn’t even thought of that – so I had to quickly ask around all of my industry friends. Remixes take up a lot of time and it was at extremely short notice so some people didn’t have time to do it. But in the end we managed to get 8 fantastic remixes – people gave up their time and just did it as a nice favour really… I have some very good friends!
Have you enjoyed the process or have you found it quite stressful?
It has been quite stressful, just doing everything on top of everyday life. All of a sudden you’ve got to get the song on iTunes, check the Twitter, keep on top of posting on Facebook, replying to all the messages. Josh our campaign manager has been brilliant with all of that but it’s been a lot of work and it’s taken up a lot of time.
But it’s been worth it?
Oh totally – it’s been quite emotional. Listening back the DJs sounded quite dismissive of our track but I was so happy with the result.
Where were you when you heard the chart position?
I had no idea where we’d chart until they announced it on the radio. Years ago we would get a call from the record label on the Sunday but it wasn’t like that this time so I was pretty nervous listening to it. I thought if we haven’t heard it by number 30 then it wouldn’t be in there and I would have been so disappointed – there were so many people listening and waiting and they would have felt so let down. It was weird – it was the first time I’d listened to the chart since 1994! When they announced it I felt so emotional- I even had a bit of a cry… I never used to get like that! I had a little drink and a little dance. It was a bit weird dancing to my own song but it seemed like the best way to celebrate!
Has the campaign created a new generation of Altern 8 fans?
Yeah- there’s been so many nice comments from people on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Some people have said things like “I was 12 when it was released and now I’m really into it.” When I’ve been out DJing I’ve had people come up and ask for a piece of memorabilia – I had one person come and ask if he could have the boiler suit and he was 18… I was like ‘this suit is older than you!’
It’s so much easier for young people to discover music now – you could be watching a video on YouTube, and you can click on the related music and it takes you through this whole journey. It wasn’t like that back then – you couldn’t just go up to a DJ and ask what a record was, you’d have to go into a record store and say ‘what’s the one that goes like this…’ It’s completely different now.
What’s next for you?
I’m hoping to just have a nice relaxing Christmas then back to work on Boxing Day when I’ll be DJing in Couture in Stafford, then it’s straight to Brussels the night after, and then Dublin for New Year’s Eve. When I DJ people always expect Altern 8 song but I’ll usually vary between Activ-8, Infiltrate and Frequency, but over the last few weeks it’s just been Activ-8. I now get people coming and asking for the ‘Christmas tune’!
The whole thing has just been better that I ever could have expected –it’s got people talking and I think it’s restored a level of pride in Stafford – just like there was 22 years ago.
Staffordshire enjoyed success in this year's album chart too - find out more here.