Maniac 2000 as we know it was recorded in the Cricket Club in Clontarf (that’s the live crowd you can hear on the song). The attitude was very much “let’s see what happens” – and what happened was a number one single.
“But obviously it caught the imagination of a nation, without any viral support, no Twitter or Facebook.”
The song’s success was “a crazy time” for Mark, who remembers “doing signings in shops and being bundled into the back of a jeep to escape hordes of fans”.
“It was real rock n roll stuff,” he laughs, recalling raucous signings where he was asked to sign women’s breasts.
A year after the track's official release in 2001, Mark won the Meteor Award for the best single, beating the likes of Ronan Keating. “Jesus Christ – what the hell am I doing here?” Mark asked himself as he stood on the podium accepting his award. “It’s everything a record shouldn’t be”
Mark McCabe was a 20-year-old who had no idea that a “badly produced and so badly recorded” single would change the course of his career, have him dodging mobs at record store signings, and leave him forever the ‘Maniac 2000’ guy.
Since then he has been a DJ, a public speaker, a presenter, a director. But going all the way back February 2000 when the track was released and then the track spent 10 weeks from March to May 2000 at number 1 of the irish single charts. Meanwhile, it is the 5th best selling track of all time in Ireland.
As part of his live DJ sets, Mark rapped over a remix of the track Maniac. Clubbers and fans were always requesting the song, which led to the idea of doing an actual studio recording of the song.
Whatever about its production values, the song was embraced by the music-buyers of Ireland, who couldn’t get enough of the high-energy track.
“It’s so badly produced and so badly recorded,” laughs Mark.
“It’s everything a record shouldn’t be; but it just goes to show that people like to forget where they are for seven minutes on a Friday night when they are out.”
“I think it works because there is a killer hook,” says Mark.
What it is about is having a good time, being with your mates, jumping up and down feeling stupid.
His rapping contains memorable philosophical lines like “life, it has no meaning”, but Mark laughs when asked what was he rapping about.
“There was no real thought into the lyrical content other than let’s just make [a song],” he says. The “oggy oggy oggy” chant came from his scouting days. “It’s just literally made up on the night and it was just we happened to record it on the night. I have to live with that forever,” he says.
What’s remarkable about Maniac 2000 is how a song recorded at a disco caught the love of a nation. “It was the total underdog, totally against the big labels, totally against the manufactured pop bands or rock bands,” says Mark.
Did it make him much money? “It didn’t make me a millionaire. It did OK.” He made enough to buy studio gear, and went on to build his own studio.
“A lot of people don’t know I was signed with some credible labels,” he adds. I was on Twisted Records in New York making tribal house. All these people thought I was this cheesy pop DJ, but then under different names I was putting out stuff under different labels in the States. I was producing for bands and recording for bands, all while laughing at the fact this record was doing what it was doing. It opened many doors for me.
In opening those doors, it also slammed shut the ones Mark had assumed would always be propped open for him. He’d been playing drums, piano and organ for years, was heavily into the theory and philosophy of music. The single “killed any credo I have”.
“I struggled with it for a long time because I couldn’t get away from it,” he acknowledges.
He made an album under the name Music from the Fourth Space with Universal Records, but still he couldn’t escape being ‘Maniac Mark’. “It was just dance monkey, dance,” he says wryly.
Mark said, “went and slapped myself in the face”.
So many people took this song and took it to their heart. You did that for them and you have to appreciate that. He realised that “there are people who wrote records and they poured their heart and soul into it and they never see the light of day”.
These days, he meets “serious” musicians who speak of their love for the song; he shows transition year students (who were infants when it was released) around the studio in Dublin and is asked “are you THE Mark McCabe”?
He realises the impact one small single had. “It’s so Irish - it’s almost like a rite of passage,” he says proudly.
Mark thinks of the fans first when it comes to tackling the song again.
“If I was to get it wrong I think people would be really annoyed and it would ruin the song. The other side of me says why not introduce it to a new generation? It was so unique and so of its time that I think it was best left alone. I could be proved wrong.”
It sounds like, after some time wrestling with its impact, he’s now – thanks in large part to how beloved Maniac 2000 is – happy to own his success.
“I did it. In terms of playing the music industry and putting a tune out there and releasing it and trying to get to number one, I did it. Regardless of what the song or genre sounded like. It worked way beyond what we could have expected.“