By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
"When you go to rave and it's an underage crowd, you've got people all strung out. I don't even feel good around it," Fact adds. "'Cause you pick up the vibe they're emitting. You see these people in a pool of sweat, kissing. I grew up in Brooklyn, and we didn't have that."
Ironically, Ramirez's attempts to "flush out" the underage crowd have been met with resistance from local authorities, who've nixed most of his attempts to obtain liquor permits for shows. In January, the state liquor board granted him a permit for a rave at the Icehouse, but he says the permit was subsequently pulled after a Phoenix police lieutenant expressed concerns about drug use at the venue.
"Everything has been considerably harder since the whole Sammy the Bull thing," Ramirez says. "I think it's kind of ridiculous, but the general public doesn't think so. They thought 60,000 pills a week were being sold at a rave with 800 people, and it wasn't true. They were going to clubs, titty bars and everywhere else.
"We're just trying to work something out to grow with what we're trying to do. The city, the police department, the liquor board and the DEA all discuss these things."
Ramirez says he's spoken to DEA agents, who've been turning up at local raves recently. "I've asked the DEA, 'How do we stop [people buying drugs]? Why don't we hire undercover security guards to buy drugs, to get those people out?' They say you can't do that, 'cause you're committing a felony by buying the drugs. So I ask what we can do about it and they'll say, 'Don't let it in the door.' But we're not letting it in the door."
Jim Molesa, Phoenix division spokesman for the DEA, would not comment on any specific DEA investigations into the Phoenix rave scene, but did say, "Independent of the activity we did with Gravano, we're aware that Ecstasy across the country is an issue. But conversely, we're seeing that it's not just a rave-type drug now. It's more a recreational drug, just like any other drug."
In a way, Ramirez shares the DEA's concerns. He thinks that widespread drug use and the presence of underage kids have seriously damaged the local rave scene.
"Before the Sammy the Bull thing happened, the scene was pretty strong," he says. "Then, the parties started becoming too regular, and too cookie-cutter. It was too many young promoters and too many young kids. It was really cool for a while, and then it just became a bunch of young kids doing drugs. And that became the reputation of the scene. Now it's few and far between for the big events."
Megadef and Fact's new CD doesn't represent a huge stylistic leap forward from 2000's Set Disorder. Like that record, it was pieced together in their Tempe bedroom studio from scratching, beat juggling and doubling up records on two turntables. But the duo consider it their true debut, thus the title Just Getting Started.
"We're trying to be more musicians than we are DJs," Fact says. "It's all just playing records, but we come at it as though we're musicians, trying to make something out of the record, doing something creative with it."
Though they're increasingly concentrating on out-of-town shows -- having performed in California, New York, Florida, Georgia, Utah and Colorado -- they're not yet making enough money to afford the travel, and besides, Megadef can't get away too long from his "real" job: baking bread at Fry's.
But if cockiness counts for anything, Megadef's bread-baking days might be behind him soon.
"We've got the CD out, so a lot of DJ schmucks have about a week to pack their bags," he says. "We're just getting started and we're taking over. We've got bills to pay."<P