Detroit techno can be a precious thing, so much so that folks can take it too seriously. It’s supposed to be a party y’all. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone, but there was one weekend in particular when too much drama ensued.
In 1999, a few months before I started working at Motor, Rolando’s “Knights of the Jaguar” burst onto the scene, becoming an instant anthem. Motor was still being booked by Linda G at the time, and she immediately scheduld a UR night, featuring Rolando and Octave One.
As the Friday night party approached, the buzz around the city was palpable. I had started writing about techno for Real Detroit a few months earlier, and was asked by our editor, Ev, to write a quick calendar blurb about the event. As we approached our print deadline, we quickly discovered that there was no readily available photos of Rolando to feature. With no time left, Ev grabbed a pic of the UR logo off the internet and dropped it into the layout. Problem solved.
Real Detroit came out on Wednesdays back then, and I found myself in the Motor office that day, with Linda very irked by the use of the UR logo without permission. Today, such usage wouldn’t even be noticed, but at the time, people still thought about things like copyright, and apparently someone had complained (extra ironic since so much of UR’s branding was based around the Punisher comic books). I told her the decision wasn’t mine, and she should take it up with the bosses at Real if it was that big of a problem.
Friday finally came and I made my way up towards the DJ booth, excited to see Rolando for the first time. As I waited, Linda found me on the dance floor and suggested that I should leave. “Mad” Mike Banks was at the party, and was apparently still upsets about the logo. Mike was very much an enigma, never giving interviews or showing his face in the press (he still doesn’t do the latter). I told Linda I thought the whole situation was ridiculous, and I would gladly explain it to Mike if she would introduce me since I had no idea what he looked like. Linda thought it was a bad idea, so after some heated back and forth, I pretended to leave the club, only to sneak into a corner where I could watch Rolando in peace.
I’m not a confrontational guy, but I’m also not the type to let things lie. I was more than a little irritated that something Real Detroit had done without my knowledge was suddenly compromising my reputation as a journalist and as a techno fan (I told you, we took this stuff WAY too seriously). That Monday, I made my way to the RD office and sent a fax over to Submerge. It read something like:
I understand there was an issue this weekend regarding Real Detroit’s use of the UR logo to help promote the show. I was not involved in the decision, but I would be happy to discuss the situation with you.
Needless to say, I never heard back.
Several months later, I got a chance to meet Mike Banks for the first time. I was working at Motor by then and was charged with spending the day driving around Nigel Richards. Mike and Nigel were old friends, so we headed to Submerge so they could hang out. While the two chatted, I sat there quietly, wondering if anyone knew I was the guy from Real Detroit. After about an hour, I joined the conversation, and told Mike who I was. I wasn’t sure if he was gonna be pissed, but what the hell. It had been several months, and let’s be honest, the whole situation was laughably petty.
"That was you who sent the fax?" Mike looked me in the eye. "Man, that’s about the most adult thing I’ve seen anyone in Detroit do for years."
With that, Mike handed me a marker and asked me to sign the Submerge wall of fame—permanently joining the list of techno luminaries who had passed through over the years. The situation leading up to the it may have been absurd, but I still take pride in that moment. We were all so young and childish (I think I was 24), and discovering our own way. As I signed my name (writing, “Motor/Real Detroit underneath it) I started to feel like a grown-up. 12 years later, when conflict arises in my personal or professional life, I still think back to that day at Submerge, and try to approach people honestly and respectfully.