2 Unlimited: “We jammed in a band with Prince and Robbie Williams”

2 Unlimited: “We jammed in a band with Prince and Robbie Williams”

Which pseudonym did comedy legend Chris Morris use when he prank-interviewed 2 Unlimited for Radio 1 in 1994?

“Woah! I need to pass on this one. It doesn’t ring a bell.”

WRONG. The Four Lions/Brass Eye satirist adopted the guise of obnoxious local DJ Wayne Carr.

“I know who Chris Morris is, but I don’t remember that. Back in the day, we’d do around six interviews every day, so if it was a prank, we wouldn’t have recognised it! I’ve never listened to it back.”

Which famously irascible Salford frontman told NME in 1993 that 2 Unlimited’s ‘No Limit’ was one of his favourite tracks of the year?

“Was that someone from The Prodigy?”

WRONG. It was The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. He bigged up 2 Unlimited on many occasions.

“I didn’t know that. That’s dope! [Laughs] The craziest experience I had with something like that was meeting Michael Jackson in Monte Carlo at the World Music Awards [in 1993]. I was a big fan and we were performing in front of him. He was sitting in the front row. It’s the only time I’ve ever been nervous on stage! Afterwards, he came up to me backstage and said: ‘I really like your song’. When we knocked Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ off Number One [in the UK charts with ‘No Limit’], she told us: ‘I really like the stuff that you guys are doing’.”

“Then again, you had other people like The Prodigy who really hated us. [Laughs]. We had a fight, because they were talking a lot of shit about us, as they were seen as credible and we were not-so-credible. One time in Japan, I confronted them: ‘So you’ve got something to say? You want to get into it?’. They were flustered, replying: ‘No, no Ray, it’s just politics!’. I thought: ‘Let’s see if you’re still so tough to say it to my face’.”

For a bonus half-point: how many times does the word ‘no’ appear in the UK radio edit of ‘No Limit’?

“[Laughs] I did count them one time, but I’m gonna guess 32 times?”

WRONG. 75.

“So more than double it!”

Your rapping on the UK version of the ‘No Limit’ and other 2 Unlimited singles was removed at the request of the label boss Pete Waterman. Were there ever any arguments with him over it?

“Yeah. In the rest of the world, I was rapping over all the tracks, so there was a lot of discussion with Pete Waterman with me protesting ‘You’ve got to put the rap on!’, but at the time they didn’t feel rap was played on the radio.  It was strange because all around the world, I was known as the rapper from 2 Unlimited, so doing Top of the Pops in the UK playing the keyboard and just saying ‘Techno! Techno! Techno! Techno!’ was not really nice. I had sleepless nights about it, but since I wrote most of the songs, it was OK.”

Can you name the 2023 viral spoof of 1990s Eurodance acts like 2 Unlimited by American comedian Kyle Gordon (under the alias DJ Crazy Times)?

“I’m really bad at this! [Laughs] What was it?”

WRONG. It’s called ‘Planet of the Bass’. Did they convincingly nail their Eurodance satire?

“’Planet of the Bass’! It’s stuck in my head. Yeah, they did. We started in 1991 with ‘Get Ready for This’ which was never meant to be commercial – it was for the underground clubs, and then Pete Waterman picked it up for [his late night club-touring ITV series] The Hitman and Her, and we changed and became a visual band that kids could put posters of on their bedroom walls. And loads of groups came up around us, and we have evergreen music that sticks in your head, so I’m proud that we contributed something distinctive to dance music and can be parodied.”

 What have you made of the ‘90s Eurotrance revival that has included the likes of Kim Petras and Nicki Minaj sampling Alice Deejay’s 1999 anthem ‘Better Off Alone’ on their recent hit ‘Alone’ and David Guetta, Anne-Marie and Coi Leray’s ‘Baby Don’t Hurt Me’ using Haddaway’s ‘What Is Love’?

“It’s testament to how catchy and epic those ‘90s songs were – like David Guetta [and Bebe Rexha] doing Eiffel 65’s ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’ [on their 2022 single ‘I’m Good (Blue)’]. The hooks in these ‘90s songs are so strong that they’re never go away. In the ‘90s, we used to go to a club in Paris where David Guetta would DJ, and he always came to our table saying: ‘Ah 2 Unlimited! I love you! And one day I want to be a producer.’ Now he’s one of the biggest. So David Guetta really knows how to give people the feeling of that era. I was waiting for him to produce 2 Unlimited. Maybe he still will!”

What was the 1994 Spitting Image parody of ‘No Limit’ called?

“Er…I think it was ‘No Lyrics’.


Finally! I’ve got one correct! That song was nicely done. We were on the floor laughing when we first saw that Spitting Image tribute. It was crazy!”

Talking of mockery, the press branded you ‘2 Untalented’ at the time. Did any of the barbs ever bother you?

“No. We felt it was a sign of success. We’re from Holland, and we’re quite down-to-earth, so we took it as laugh.”

Which 1994 sitcom-centric Pet Shop Boys single contains a cheeky reference to 2 Unlimited with the lyric ‘Techno, techno, bloody techno, darling!’?

“It’s not ‘West End Girls’? Nah!”

WRONG. It’s ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, the Pet Shop Boys’ Comic Relief single team-up with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley from the eponymous BBC sitcom. In it, Saunders, as her character Eddie Monsoon, barks: ‘Techno, techno, bloody techno, darling!”

“I remember that sitcom. Absolutely Fabulous also had a moment in where one of the characters [Bubble, played by Jane Horrocks] is singingNo, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, there’s no limit!’ in a deranged style. We met the two lead actresses [Saunders and Lumley] at a TV station one time.”

What’s the most bizarre Ab Fab-style night out you’ve had with a fellow pop star?

“It was probably with Robbie Williams. We were at the MTV Awards in Berlin [in 1994] and there was an afterparty, and Prince was there. We were in a small club and Robbie was singing, I was rapping, and Prince was playing guitar, and we were all freestyling songs together. It was like a hip-hop thing. Man, it was crazy!”

Sounds it! Did you speak to Prince?

“A little bit. Also, I used to live in Monte Carlo for 11 years, and one time there, Prince invited Anita [Doth, former 2 Unlimited singer] to his room. She was scared and after 10 minutes, she called security to pick her up because he had some other things in mind.”

Name any of the three acts you reviewed on Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast with alien puppets Zig and Zag in 1993.

“Oh man! That’s a hard one! Was one of them Kylie Minogue?”

WRONG. You cast your critical gaze over Dina Carroll’s ‘This Time’, Vanessa Paradis’ ‘Sunday Mondays’ and Suede’s ‘Animal Nitrate’.

“OK! [Laughs] Zig and Zag were always so funny – and we had fun, despite it being early in the morning and us recovering from our gig the night before.”

Performing on Top of the Pops in 1993, which Celtic band yelled ‘Techno! Techno! Techno!’ as a piss-taking nod to the ubiquity of ‘No Limit’?

“Was that The Cranberries?”

WRONG. It was The Bluebells performing their chart-topper ‘Young at Heart’.

“Oh shit! I need to look that up. It’s funny because in his live shows, Haddaway always yells ‘Techno! Techno! Techno! Techno!’ during ‘What Is Love’.”

“’No Limit’ was the fastest song we ever wrote. We were on tour in Australia flying to Japan and our album was nearly finished but we still had this demo for ‘No Limit’’ –  but everybody apart from us felt it was annoying. I was sitting with Anita in the plane thinking about the Crystal Waters song ‘Gypsy Woman (La da dee la da da)’ and we were thing it should be something like that. Then we thought: ‘2 Unlimited, limits, unlimited, oh! No Limits’ and Anita started singing ‘No, no, no, no, no, no’ which sounded a little bit like ‘La da dee la da da’ and we wrote that song in an hour. When we arrived in Japan, we recorded it as a voice memo, and sent it over to the producer. It was just a joke, a gimmick, and it ended up as our biggest hit ever.”

Which 1995 video game film theme ‘remixes’ 2 Unlimited’s 1992 hit ‘Twilight Zone’?

“Was it Mortal Kombat?”

CORRECT. The movie’s theme, ‘Techno Syndrome’ by The Immortals, bears an uncanny resemble to ‘Twilight Zone’, although Immortals members Oliver Adams and Maurice Engelen have claimed the resemblance is coincidental.

“Of course it was inspired by ‘Twilight Zone’ and sounded like us, but they twisted it a little bit so they didn’t have to pay publishing, and people were always like: ‘Yo! They stole this from us!’ But the music of 2 Unlimited is so energetic that it’s good for sports and games and hypes the action up so it’s the perfect song to use in a video game film.”

Which two Manchester City/Liverpool players used to have a football chant inspired by 2 Unlimited?

Yaya and Kolo Touré?”

CORRECT. The chant, to the tune of ‘No Limit’ , was: ‘Yaya, Yaya, Yaya, Yaya, Yaya, Yaya, Yaya, Yaya, Yaya Touré; Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo Touré.’

“I’m a big soccer fan and it’s an honour to hear your music and whole stadium chanting, and that something we wrote 32 years ago is still around.”

What number did you reach on ‘90s indie bible Select’s Cool List in 1993?

“I think it was Number 2?”

WRONG. But close! Number 4 – you were sandwiched between Kylie Minogue at Number 3 and Chris Lowe from Pet Shop Boys at Number 5. The KLF’s maverick Bill Drummond topped the poll.

“Well, that’s a nice list to be on [Laughs].”

Any other memorable accolades?

“’No Limit’ being Number 1 in 32 countries at the same time is something I’ll never forget. But writing ‘Get Ready for This’, our first single [in 1990] is my proudest moment, because it started it all. I wrote it over an instrumental, and I’d written a girl’s vocal part, and the producers [Phil Wilde and Jean-Paul de Coster] asked me: ‘Do you know a singer?’ I knew Anita from the club scene, so that’s how 2 Unlimited was born. I’d never written a song before, so I felt like God held my hand to write it.”

The verdict: 3/10 

“Not so good but not so bad!”

2 Unlimited are part of the line-up for the ‘Biggest ‘90s/’00s Disco’ at Leeds First Direct Arena on November 10 and Glasgow OVO Hydro on November 11

The post 2 Unlimited: “We jammed in a band with Prince and Robbie Williams” appeared first on NME.

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