The Juan MacLean Less Than Human
Published Aug 01, 2005The Juan Maclean is actually the not-so-Hispanic John Maclean, one of the principal members of revered but underrated electro spazz-rockers Six Finger Satellite. At the turn of the century, he hooked up with James Murphy, who by then had spent the last decade in failed indie rock bands, and UNKLE alumni Tim Goldsworthy, started the DFA label, brought back disco, re-energised punk, and left an indelible mark on the skinny face of hipster lore. Not bad, some might say. Although LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture have gone on to produce the labels most memorable moments, the Juan Maclean has arguably been the labels staunchest keeper of the beat. His debut album is the closest full-length the label has offered up to reflect the callous energy of their heralded singles, and so Less Than Human rightfully earns its place as the quintessential DFA album. With nine tracks clocking in at 47 minutes, numbers like "Shining Skinned Friend and "Give Me Every Little Thing consolidate a tremendous sonic range that manages to dig 30 years back while still anticipating the sounds of six months from now. Maclean may be steeped in fragments of Kraftwerk, Detroit techno, Cameo, Chicago house, and acid revivalism, but its the structure of his arrangements, the builds of todays most pacesetting dance cultures, that keeps Less Than Human from being swallowed up by its influences.
Can you say a few words about the end of Six Finger, the time in between, and what led up to re-emerging in a completely different scene? After quitting 6FS, I moved to Maine, traded my guitar for a real axe and chopped wood to heat my house. I also went to college and got my degree, and began teaching in a juvenile detention facility. I taught English to the worst types of kids you can imagine, and it was a one of the great achievements of my life. Although I was always breaking up fights, getting punched in the face, or confiscating weapons, it was one of the most rewarding experiences.
What's changed with you personally, with the JM project, with DFA's status since the first JM twelve-inch dropped a few years back? A whole scene exploded, and then sort of dissolved, since the release of the first DFA twelve-inches. Less Than Human had actually been completed for a couple of years, but DFA was working out a distribution deal with a major label. Even though it was at times infuriating having to sit back and watch legions of records being released that were inspired by DFA, while mine languished, it was absolutely one of the best things, because DFA was sticking to their guns for the deal they wanted. (DFA)