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Detroit techno pioneers Inner City bring the beat back indoors

for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

It's been so long since the Detroit techno group Inner City played a club show in the Detroit area that founder Kevin Saunderson can't quite recall it.

But nearly 25 years after it reeled off a string of No. 1 dance hits -- including "Good Life," "Big Fun," "Ain't Nobody Better" and "Do You Love What You Feel" from the 1980 debut album "Paradise" -- Saunderson is bringing Inner City back indoors this weekend and looking forward to reconnecting with what he expects to be a varied home town audience.

"You're dealing with a crowd who knows and a crowd who doesn't know," explains Saunderson, 47, who along with Derrick May and Juan Atkins pioneered the Detroit techno sound while they were living in Belleville. "A lot of kids don't know who we are, but it seems like when we play they still enjoy it and get into it. They may recognize some of the songs from before and stuff like that.

"And then some of the (older) crew doesn't go out much anymore. They want to go back in time. They want to feel those songs. They might not get another opportunity -- or not many more. So it's a unique mixture now when we do our shows."

Despite the golden oldie appeal of this weekend's show -- which will also feature original members Paris Grey, Ann Saunderson and Tommy Onyx, plus Charm Farm drummer Eric Hoegemeyer --Inner City is very much an active concern, resurrected since the late 00s after Grey took a hiatus to raise her daughter. The group released a new single, "Future," last year on Britain's Defected Records, and it will go back into the studio this weekend to record more new material -- certainly some singles and possibly an album, according to Saunderson.

"We're going to be as active as we were back in the day," promises Saunderson, who will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his KMS Records label at this year's Movement Electronic Music Festival in downtown Detroit. "There's going to be a strong push over the next couple years of us putting out material. We've got to love what we do and feel it, of course, but I don't think that's going to be an issue. It feels natural, what we do.

"And maybe it's a good time for America to catch up to us a little. I feel like America missed the boat with us back in the day, but we were ahead of our time. Maybe it's a little more balanced now."

Kevin Saunderson featuring Inner City and Mike Brown perform Friday, March 2, at Elektricity, 15 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 248-599-2212 or visit www.elektricitymusic.com.

Web Site: www.elektricitymusic.com

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