Scraping around in the fecal aftermath of the genre that ate itself, Eyeplug’s pop pages are unashamedly upbeat. From the classic pop sounds of the 1960s, via the bubblegum boom and the edgier stylings of Blondie or the Buzzcocks, through to the current day, all that is good and nourishing is here.
Scraping around in the fecal aftermath of the genre that ate itself, Eyeplug’s pop pages are unashamedly upbeat. From the classic pop sounds of the 1960s, via the bubblegum boom and the edgier stylings of Blondie or the Buzzcocks, through to the current day, all that is good and nourishing is here.
Rhoda Dakar recently took time out from her growingly hectic schedule to speak to The ‘mighty’ Scenester about her current activity including her all new fab EP, ‘The Lotek Four Vol 1’ which is out now.
S: So, tell us a little about the new EP.
RD: It started out from an idea about when I first took my son to the studio. Cecil and Terry Callier were recording ‘Dolphins’, Doctor Robert was the producer, up at the Church (The Eurythmics’ studio) and my son was six months old at the time, and he was humming along.
They wanted to have a parents’ evening, a concert where the music teachers and the parents actually performed, so I said why don’t we do ‘Dolphins’? One of the music teachers played piano, we didn’t have a bass player. In our first run through, in the rehearsal studio, I recorded it on my phone. It sounded amazing. You really don’t need all the fuss. If the song’s good, and it’s played well, and the arrangement’s right, you don’t need all the extra stuff. It’s a different art form, putting the extra stuff on. So that was the idea for the EP, to get back to the essence of what a song is, so you have a good song, and record it in a good studio, with the minimum of fuss. It was all recorded it in two sessions, in one day. We were lucky enough to have The Black Barn. We recorded two versions of one song (‘Fill the Emptiness’) just to show that it’s not even about style in which you record it.
The EP was recorded with my live band, and that was the real joy because we already had an understanding. I teach vocals and performance, I‘m used to working with different people. It’s about weighing people up, seeing what they’ve got to offer, and seeing how you can get the best out of them. There are some people you can work with a million times and still never get anywhere with them.
S: What first got you into music?
RD: My Dad. He was a singer; he used to sing around the house. There was always something playing. We had a gramophone, and 78’s; they had a big record collection, my parents. I had wanted to be an actress, and my first job was at the Young Vic, at the theatre wardrobe. My grandmother had been a theatrical costumier, she taught me how to sew, so I got a job in theatre wardrobe, and I was there for a couple of years, and in all that time, there was one mixed race actor came in for one play. I had been in the Youth Theatre and we’d done Shakespeare at the Old Vic, and I went to the Young Vic, which is just across the road, working professionally, and I suddenly realised I’d be playing nurses and prostitutes for the rest of my life. I just had to re-evaluate what I wanted to do. I went into the Civil Service but I was only there for about six months, and in that time, I got in a band, and we got a deal. I’d actually been performing for over ten years by the time I got into a band. It takes a long time to be a good singer, and I wasn’t when I started, I’ve had to work at it.
S: How well did you cope with fame at such an early age?
RD: I had been around bands for a long time. I went to see my first gig when I was thirteen, so I’d seen lots and lots of bands and two of my friends were in the Sex Pistols, and I spent a lot of time with them. So I saw how they coped with it, and I saw how some didn’t cope so well, and how one coped brilliantly because he was very grounded and when he wasn’t doing anything, his Dad used to make him work for him. That keeps you on it. I have to say, that Paul Cook was a massive influence on how I behaved in the music industry. His attitude to people, his level-headedness, and I really loved that, so I took after him.
S: Which artists did you like when you first got into music? Are they different to the ones you were into when you first became a musician?
RD: Some of them, I am, I mean, I can’t say I’m a big fan of The Partridge Family anymore, but that was kind of the first thing. Very quickly, I was into David Bowie, and that’s remained a constant, although I have to say he went out of favour with me, and I think it was when I saw him cutting up lyrics, and I thought, I’ve pored for hours over lyrics, and he just cut them up and put them together willy-nilly. I was a bit huffy about that, especially as when I wrote very much from the heart.
S: Which of today’s artists do you admire?
RD: There are loads of young grime artists that I like, when my son was too young to go by himself, I saw Skepta, Wretch 32 years ago, and I think someone who is going to do well is Stormzy. He’s bright enough to know that you can’t take one idea and go with it forever, you have to branch out, and he’s got a little twinkle in his eye. There’s an American band called The Interrupters, I think they’re under thirty, and they’re like a ska-punk band, which wasn’t something I was ever into, but they have this song called ‘Take Back The Power’ which really resonates with me at the moment, you know ‘What’s your plan for tomorrow, are you a leader or will you follow? Are you a fighter, or will you cower? It’s our time to take back the power.’
S: Which person has had the most significant effect on you?
RD: Musically or attitudinally? It’s got to be Bowie, I as a fan when I was 13, even before I went to see him. At the time, to be a Bowie fan was like, we were called Bowie freaks; it was so different to what was going on. Also, I’ve met so many people, with whom I’m still in touch, and they shaped my adolescence. One of them, Jill from Bromley, ended up going out with Paul Weller, she was into Siouxsie Sioux, and so we all ended up knowing Siouxsie, back in the day. Essentially, the reason I’m still hanging around with bands is all about those people connected with Bowie. People I’ve reconnected with over the years, like Hugo Burnham, who was the drummer for the Gang of Four, he was one of our group, all have ended up connected with music in some way. I wasn’t one of those people tearing my clothing when Bowie died. I thought it was a shame, very much so, because I thought he was influential in a good way and the fact that he was starting to make music again. It was just brilliant. As I was coming up the escalator at Piccadilly, somebody was singing, ‘Where are we now?’ If a busker can’t ruin it, it’s a good song.
S: (Mentions ‘Kooks’)
RD: I was there; I did it with Dr. Robert! We did an acoustic version, we were invited onto the Women’s Stage at Pride, and we sang ‘Kooks’, and my son was like 18 months old, in the audience, in his pushchair. It (Kooks) was about his son, wasn’t it? I let my son think it was about him. I remember him (Duncan ‘Zowie’ Bowie) when he was a little tiny boy in his pushchair, ‘cause I used to sit outside Bowie’s house. I was that mad about him.
S: If you could travel back in time, to any place, when and where would it be?
RD: I’ve been asked this before. The answer I should have given is to go back to Swinging 60’s London, however, the real answer is that I would have loved to go to my Dad’s Jazz Club in Piccadilly, in the 40’s, and see what that was like. My parents met there in the Second World War, I’m sure my mother shouldn’t have been there, but in those days, people just thought ‘Well I might be dead tomorrow, let me just go and see what this is about, a Jazz Club in a basement behind the Regent Palace Hotel.’ My Dad hosted the Caribbean Club there, and the house band was the Ray Ellington Quartet. There is some great photos I’ve got from there, amazing. My Dad was so charming. Oddly enough, it would have been his 120th birthday today. He was 62 when I was born. He was from another era; he was the youngest of eleven.
S: Is there anything you would like to have prevented coming into being?
RD: Gosh. Very difficult, because you want to say, ‘prevent Hiroshima, prevent Nagasaki’, but I think I’d like to have prevented HIV. A terrible, terrible thing and I really don’t know how it came about. I don’t know how selfish this would be, but maybe prevent Trump being born.
S: If you could backtrack through your career, what would you edit, if anything?
RD: I don’t think I’d really excise anything. I’d like to add more. I’m putting this thing out now (EP) and I feel like I finally know what I’m doing. If I’d done more, would that have come to me earlier?
S: If you were to meet yourself in your early twenties, what advice would you give yourself?
RD: The advice I would give myself would be either ‘get yourself a decent manager’, or ‘learn about the music business’. I have lost and have been eased out of thousands and thousands of pounds over the years, because I trusted people to do things for me – because we never had a manager for more than about six weeks, I never joined the PRS. So I missed out on money there for example. Another one; just never reading paperwork properly that was given to me. Get acquainted with the business, and be on point, as the young people say.
S: What songs or arrangements are you most proud of, and why?
RD: I would say I’m proudest of this latest EP, particularly because I was in charge of making everything happen, for the first time ever. Nobody found the studio for me; I found it. Nobody decided on the tracks; I decided on them. I made all the big decisions, I designed it, and it’s all down to me. If there’s something wrong, it’s my fault. Even the free download, it was my decision.
S: ‘The Boiler’ is such a powerful piece of work. Did you have any misgivings about it? Has it ever proved a millstone around your neck?
RD: I don’t think of it as a bit of a millstone. For me, it was a transition between me doing acting and singing. It was the only original song we had at our first gig. It was where I started to become a songwriter. I’d think of it as a millstone if people still expected me to do it. That said, I can’t do it because it’s very much a piece about someone like my younger self, I’m not twenty, I don’t think the same thoughts. It would be me faking being twenty.
S: How did the launch for the EP go?
RD: I’m pleased I’ve had a positive response, it’s very rewarding, and we’re already writing the next one!
Rhoda Dakar spoke with Scenester1964 23/2/2017
Rhoda Dakar; The Lotek Four Vol. 1 (LTK4V1CD)
Coming from the doyenne of the 80’s Ska revival scene, and dressed in natty hounds-tooth (the EP, not Rhoda) the five tracks on offer here are a personal labour of love.
‘Fill The Emptiness’ opens as a languorous, swaying Lover’s Rock track, with some lovely falls in the voice, and a crisp, raspy sax solo to boot.
‘Tears You Can’t Hide’s high, pumping beat and tension and release dynamic shows Rhoda’s rounder, yet ironically, more stentorian voice tone.
‘You Talking To Me?’ has the kind of late night atmospheric sax and keyboard that welcomes you in, the voice smooth, even drifting into French at opportune moments.
Rhoda lets her voice soar on ‘Dolphins’, the ‘lapping water’ piano complementing the jazzy feel in a relationship tale.
‘Fill The Emptiness (Reefa)’ reprises in a very different style, and fits its piano riff well, the slide guitar setting it off beautifully, Rhoda duetting with herself at one point.
Fool Britannia – Scandal – Stop the World I Want to Get Off – TW3
(El Records ACMemo316CD)
‘Fool Britannia’ takes us back to an age when politicians learnt that respect was earned, not given, and a moment’s indiscretion could bring the house down. This collection of ephemera, stretched over two CDs, is essential listening for those interested in Britain in the late 50’s/early 60’s, satire, pop music and the power of the press.
Written by all-winning song writing team Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and ably assisted by Peter Sellers and Joan Collins, ‘Fool Britannia’ rips the merciless out of the then highly topical Profumo Affair. At a time when politicians were generally respected by the media, even held in awe, the news of the brief love affair between Secretary of State for War John Profumo and Christine Keeler, a would-be model would have repercussions far beyond any personal embarrassment caused. That Keeler was simultaneously having an affair with Soviet Naval attaché Yevgeny Ivanov, and the revelations about the somewhat sordid details of the case would contribute to the fall of Harold MacMillan’s Conservative government. It was the gift that kept on giving, especially for newspaper owners and comedy writers involved in the popular satire boom.
Performed before an invited audience at the RCA Victor Studios, New York, on 6/8/1963, it opens with Sellers doing a spot-on impression of Newley writing a song live in the studio. ‘There Goes That Song Again’ works on more than one level, not least of which are the awful rhymes so typical of the ‘bash ‘em out and sell ‘em cheap’ school of Brit song writing at that time. ‘The House That Mac Built’ stages a speech by PM MacMillan in the bear pit that was the House of Commons, tripping himself up with almost every word, every accidental admission. The impression almost out-does Peter Cook’s own, Cook only trumping when he performed it live before MacMillan, one night.
The hypocrisy of sexual manners during this time period is elegantly brought out in ‘Wry On The Rocks’, but for true venom, you need to cock an ear to ‘They Only Fade Away’, which goes from bar room vulgarity to buffoonish Chinese whispers to amuse us. The biting innuendo in ‘Countess Interruptus’ and the sharply drawn Royal-baiting of ‘We Are Not Amused’ would have given the average radio producer a coronary at the time, but this are only paving the way for the newspaper bidding frenzy of ‘Mightier Than The Sword’. Tony, Peter, Lesley and Joan all give their best in this staging of the scramble for
Mandy Rice-Davies’ story.
The international reaction to the scandal is brilliantly satirised by way of parodied news reports in near-enough foreign languages, and followed by what may be the best one-liner of the entire satire boom: (French accent) ‘Eh, want to buy some filthy English postcards?’
For all-out belly laughs, the telephone conversation between two dubious film producers and an agent acting for one of the girls cannot be bettered. Intending to add Mandy’s story to their already impressive roster of forthright, thought provoking films, such as ‘Too Young To Strip’ and ‘I’m Sixteen and not Ashamed of my Body’, they negotiate the rights from a malodorous telephone box in Old Compton Street.
Punctuated with sharp one-liners and taking in public reaction to the whole Profumo debacle, ‘Fool Britannia’ may not crack up a modern audience at fifty years’ distance, but as a document of the style of humour and public attitudes, it can’t be beaten. An interesting side note here: major record companies would not touch this piece with a bargepole at the time. It was Jeffrey S Kruger’s ‘Ember’ label which saw its release, and its subsequent 10 week long residence in the
Highlights of the soundtrack from the film ‘Scandal’ (1989) are well chosen, ranging from Frank Sinatra’s sublime ‘Witchcraft’ to Guy Mitchell’s hilarious ‘She Wears Red Feathers’. The full album is well worth investigating for its highly representative choices of popular (rather than ‘pop’) music of the era, the only original song being Dusty Springfield’s ‘Nothing Has Been Proved’, written by Pet Shop Boys.
Disk 2, although bearing a facsimile of the cover from ‘Stop The World I Want To Get Off’, with Anthony Newley in Pierrot costume, actually opens with Mandy Rice Davies’ efforts to become a pop star; four songs which should have convinced everyone she was not suited to this particular walk of life. The upbeat ‘You’ve Got What It Takes’ makes considerable use of echo on Mandy’s thin voice, recalling the tuneless Yvonne in ‘Smashing Time’, and the smoochy jazz of ‘Close your Eyes’ is no better served. ‘All I Do Is Dream of You’ pitches Mandy as an innocent, and the mercifully final selection, ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’ must have had the listeners in fits at the suggested Spoonerism in its title. Not that Mandy was the only one seeking to make a quick buck out of this incendiary story: Joyce Blair, labouring under the well-chosen moniker, ‘Miss X’, turns in a sexily humorous one-sided conversation in ‘Christine’, and as if to ensure a complete radio ban, the sultry ditty, ‘S.E.X.’
‘Stop The World I Want To Get Off’ occupies much of the second disk, and if you’re not familiar with this funny, satirical piece from the days when going to a musical was not the dull, predictable affair it is today, then you should listen to it without delay. Basically a story of an ordinary Joe’s path through life, taking in early marriage forced on by his girl’s unexpected pregnancy, work and its joys, and finally, his transformation into a populist political hopeful, every song is tuneful, memorable and barbed in a way that would never do in today’s no-risk
Following this are selections from the ever sharp, slyly digging world of ‘That Was the Week That Was’, the BBC television show (1962-63) which capitalised on the satire boom. Using impressions, song, narrative and the week’s news as its raw material, ‘TW3’ had a huge array of writers, a wealth of talent and presented by the legendary David Frost, it was the BBC’s most strident and most feared show.
TW3 took on the establishment in a weekly sparring contest, and ran it round the ring until it was too exasperated to defend itself further. The previously untouchable subjects of sex, religion and class, Britain’s much diminished place in the world and the private lives of our leaders all came under scrutiny and were mocked mercilessly. The week’s news, sung by the lovely Millicent Martin makes for a good start, and the real life meeting between pop singer Adam Faith and the Archbishop of York is given a cheeky twist with ‘Adam’s Not A Sinner Anymore’, sung in the adenoidal style, then still popular from the time of Buddy Holly. Lance Percival’s impromptu calypsos may sound a little tame today, but were revolutionary then, but perhaps the finest sketch on offer here is the terribly well-spoken man and woman, skirting around the question of whether to have sex on their presumed first date. Our sexual manners may have moved on since the early 60’s, but the humour of embarrassment is still the same.
We can enjoy this world of 60’s satire in sound again, thanks to this excellent double pack. BUY HERE!
The Orders are a young three-piece creating waves currently on the Isle of Wight and way beyond. With recent BBC interest and a double appearance at the recent Isle of Wight Festival including a stint on the main stage, things are looking rosey for these ‘Caulkheads’ (please feel free to google that one and no it is NOT a type of drug!).
We had a nice fresh signed copy of ‘If Gold Dust Turns To Stone’ on chunky 7-inch Vinyl, wrapped in a cool sleeve drop through our letterbox, recently and it went straight onto the turntable, and after several spins a Summer smile finally appeared on this cynical old face.
Kyle Chapman (guitar and vocals) seems at present to be the main songsmith for the Orders with shards of Telecaster guitar chopping into the fray with tidy support from the throbbing, wandering, bass-punch of Issac Snow (Bass & Backing Vocals) with the entire thing held together with the safe time-keeping of Joe Rowe on (Drums & Percussion) who for his age is a mighty fine drummer!
The A-side track, ‘If Gold Dust Turns To Stone’ has an energetic youthful vibrance with a ‘surf’ style twang here and there and a solid indie-sike- pop feel with mixed hints of The Kaiser Chiefs, The Stone Roses, The Artic Monkies, The Who, The Jam, all mashed up as influences, but with a nice dreamy twist. I even recalled a glint of ‘Crocodiles’ era Bunnymen and very early Cure, in there, as the nice space in and around this track with layered backing vocals added a lift and a confidence for even brighter things ahead. It would be great to get the Drummer Joe to add into making, even more, 3-part harmonies central to their sound and identity. The folks at Humbug Studios seem to have caught a moment in time nicely too!
The sound has a tinge of 1960s Freakbeat, West-Coast Sunshine Pop, and mixes that with a dose of gritty Britpop. They certainly have a poppy appeal that spills over onto the B-side track ‘Time Ran Circles’ which has a Roses’ style outro interplay at the end which illustrates how this band have already absorbed tons of melody, harmony and rhythmic spirals that will no doubt come out into their set list in the future.
So this gets a firm thumb’s up from us here at Eyeplug and we look forwards to seeing and hearing more from them soon!
Born 1965 in Lahti, is a Finnish musician. His artist name is a combination of the first name of his youth idol Jimmy Osmond and the tenor saxophone. His band Jimi Tenor & His Shamans released its first album in 1988, whilst Tenor’s first solo album appeared in 1994. “Take Me Baby” became his first hit in 1994. He has released albums on Sähkö Recordings, Warp Records and Kitty-Yo record labels. Tenor has performed several times with the avant-garde big band Flat Earth Society. In 2009, he contributed a cover of an Elektroids song to the Warp20 (Recreated) compilation album, as well as having his song “Paint the Stars” covered by Hudson Mohawke. Eyeplug caught up with him recently for a friendly chat.
01 You were born in Finland in the 1960s, what was your childhood like there?
I lived in a small town called Lahti. I was a very shy child, but I was very active. I played piano and flute at the local conservatory. I was also very interested in theory of music. But I was also into sports and was playing all kinds of sports. Street hockey was a big thing for us.
02 At what stage did you veer towards music as a career direction?
That was quite early. I transferred to a music school and we had a good choir there. There were regular performances with the choir and I always enjoyed performing. Then later when I was 14 I started to play in various bands and that was kind of it. I really loved everything that had to do with bands. The music, hanging out. That’s what I wanted to do.
03 What were your early musical inspirations?
Finland in those days was a special place. The radio was really old school and wouldn’t play much the kind of music that I was interested in. But I remember from early childhood big radio hits like Sergio Mendez’ “Mas Que Nada”, some Beatles hits, Harry Belafonte. But at home we would listed to The Rolling Stones, Iggy and the Stooges. OK these are things that people know internationally, but what I would really hear everywhere in Finland was Finnish music. Mostly it wasn’t anything I was interested in until Punk Rock happened. Finnish Punk Rock was quite brutal, very lo-fi. I loved that.
04 How did you develop as an Artist and a Creative outlook?
I have always been interested in repetition. I don’t have a “golden ear” or perfect pitch so sometimes it’s a bit hard for me to hear very complicated chords. Maybe that’s why I naturally have been drawn into repetition and music that doesn’t have too many changes. I saw a TV series about minimal music and that was important. I got into the idea of shamanism, on order to try to get to another mental state via repetitious music. I formed a band called the Shamans. To be honest we weren’t anywhere near repetitious enough to get to another level! Later on I found an article about Futurism and Luigi Russolo. I wanted to make my own noise machines and make music, without keys or chords.
05 How did you find the dynamic of forming bands and working with others?
I like playing in bands and hanging out, but I don’t like to organize rehearsals, equipment, transport. Also calling people and making sure everybody is going to come to rehearsal space is a drag. So at some point I got into drum machines and found electronic music. It was interesting technically, but also socially. I enjoy being alone and with drum machines I could do cool stuff. I noticed that with a machine making repetitious music is much easier. In fact it’s really hard to make any changes. The old drum machines were not so sophisticated when it came to changing patterns, so you needed to work to get things out of them. And that’s exactly what I liked. I enjoy the struggle.
06 What challenges have you encountered and how have things changed over the years?
One of the biggest challenges was to get out of Finland. Finland was mentally far away and I wanted to do stuff. So we started to play in Berlin in mid-80’s and got some ideas how things are done. But one of the biggest challenges has always been the language. I like music with vocals and I like to sing a little bit. I tried to find an angle where I could sing in English and make some kind of sense. Make simple lyrics. Of course I could sing in Finnish, but the way the world is it’s hard to to get gigs outside Finland if you sing in that language. Like Japanese people also most Finnish people listen to English language music as instrumental music. What I mean for us the language is mostly sounds, different syllables. The lyrical content doesn’t mean much to us, the main thing is the sound and the feeling. Maybe I’m simplifying a bit, but that’s more or less the case. Of course these days I do understand quite a bit, but still if I go to sing English language songs in karaoke, I will definitely need the lyrics underneath.
OK now the world is very different from 80’s. It’s easy to get contacts wherever in the world. I think the new challenge is to try to keep a certain amount of mystery about oneself. If you expose all your secrets in social media, you become a local guy so to speak. And you can’t be a messiah in your own country. Your place in the social media is your new country in a way.
I guess one challenge is to make enough money to survive. For me things have been quite similar always. You play gigs and sell records after the shows. That is still very much valid. Sure, some big names made plenty of money in the 70s, 80s , 90s from record sales. I never really experienced that lifestyle. Maybe briefly in the 90s but that money went into all kinds of nonsense like video clips.
07 What types themes do you embrace within your compositions?
Lyrically I try to use plenty of metaphors. But the basic themes are always pretty much the same: Love and our place in the universe. That’s about it for me. I do a lot of pseudo scientific lyrics, titles like “Selfish Gene” and “Black Hole”, but they are love and sex in the end. Having said all this about lyrics I have to point out that most of my music is instrumental. 90%. I think it’s easier to talk about lyrics than music. I would really love to do long interviews about theory of music and what I try to go for in terms of composition, but I find it hard to explain anything in short interviews. But when I start writing a new piece, I try to go for something fresh. Not always start with piano, or drum machine. I one always starts with piano, like many do, then you end up having music that is good for piano. For example when I write music for afrobeat band, I would try to get a rhythm going that is natural for that specific band. I think about the players and what they can do. In this sense I agree with John Cage: you need to know the musicians you’re writing for. You need to know the band, and then when I do horn lines, I play them with horns on the demo. I don’t play them with keyboard because keyboard is not a horn. I don’t want to play keyboard lines with my saxophone! Even when I do big band music, I try to play the parts myself. Get into the feeling how playable a part is and how musical it is.
08 How do you technically prepare for the studio side of your work?
That depends. When I’m in my own studio I use drum machines, sequencer, a couple of synths, flute and sax. That’s my normal thing, but I use a lot of percussion, DIY instruments. I try to have a mike always ready to go right next to my chair. I work really fast. I get an idea and I will play it with my flute or sax. I don’t know it’s it’s a technical aspect, but I try to get something down right after my first morning coffee. If I have hard time figuring out a melody I would wait until next morning and try to do it after one cup of coffee. It usually works out. I’m talking about rough ideas here. But I don’t necessarily make a difference between demos and final recordings. I would say about 40% of my releases were originally recorded as demos. You never know when the right feeling is there. So I record everything with a good mike and good sound. My studio is a horrible mess, but I’m very strict about the signal that goes to the recording device. Everything high quality and no extra nonsense in the signal path. No buzz, hum, or noise. Unless it’s required of course. When I record horns I try to get a little bit of feeling of the room where it was recorded at. I don’t enjoy really dry saxophone or vocals sound. I want there to be a bit of life in the recording.
09 How do you find playing live these days, what stands out and why?
I enjoy it very much. Those are the moments I feel alive. I haven’t noticed any big changes of how I feel on stage. Maybe a bit more relaxed these days. I ‘ve noticed that I’m more comfortable playing saxophone these days. Experience helps. Flute playing is the most natural thing for me and I feel wonderful when I play solos. It just flows.
10 What is your typical productive or creative day like, what shape does it take? What would make it a succesful day?
Like I said it starts with coffee and then I have immediately a writing session for about one hour, sometimes more if I have a deadline. I start really early, you know 8am or 9am. Most of my ideas are gone by 11 o’clock and then I start doing the arrangements and the less intuitive things. Then I go to get some food and afternoons I run errands, take my kids to hobbies. In the evenings I tend to do more music. Might get more ideas, but that happens seldom. When we go to studio with a band then of course those days are full on creative rush. We don’t go to studio that often and the time there is always very restricted. So once you’re in there you have to go for it! But those days are special. Normally I do my music in a disciplined way. Everyday, but not too much. I don’t want to ruin the fun side of it.
11 How do you feel the wider Music Industry relates to artists such as yourself? Do you have strong thoughts on how it works today?
I don’t exists for them. I don’t think I have any role in the mainstream music industry. And I guess that’s fine. They can keep their “idols” TV-shows and all that. I don’t want to have anything to do with Live Nation and that kind of bullying music business. Having said that, it’s kind of hard to avoid Live Nation. They’re everywhere. I’m happy that there is an underground scene and I belong there. I don’t need to talk to A&R people, I don’t need to do show-case gigs.
I like the idea of digital releases, but I’ve noticed people don’t take releases seriously if they have only been released in digital format. That might change quite soon. LPs are back and that’s fun but I don’t care about the formats that much, as long as I hear the music I’m fine.
12 Being from Finland, yet living and working in various other Cities and places, do you retain a spirit or deep flavour of your homeland, how does that manifest itself?
I don’t try to sound Finnish on purpose, but I think my music still sounds Finnish. That’s fine with me because that’s who I am and I’m thankful that I have that special flavor. I have worked and I still work from people around the world. It’s easy to get lost in the multitudes of sounds and styles that I’m exposed to. I want to embrace different cultures but same time I want to be myself.
13 Please tell us about your recent work?
Well, I did a single for Philophon calld ‘Tropical Eel, Order of Nothingness.’ That came out in March 2016. I released a big band album on Herakles Records called ‘Mysterium Magnum’ in Sept 2015. At the moments we’re working on an “Itetune” album. Itetune is a band that uses only DIY instruments. We actually finished the mixing last night and it’ll be out on Sähkö Recordings. We’re also working ona new album with Jimi Tenor & Kabukabu.
14 What plans have you got for 2016 and beyond?
2016 I will play gigs here and there. Jori Hulkkonen and I will perform our film “Nuntius” in Vilnius on June 17th. Nuntius is a special project. It’s a silent film that will not be released. It can only be seen when Jori and I perform it live. I mean we do the music live. Sometimes our actor Mr Normall also appears on stage as himself, so the project has a bit of theatre in the mix.
15 Can you tell us a short, funny story please?
I asked my North Korean friend “how’s it going”. He said “Can’t complain!”
Jimi Tenor and his Shamans
Total Capacity of 216,5 Litres; LP (1988, Euros)
Diktafon; CD/LP (1989, Poko Records)
Mekanoid; CD/LP (1990, Poko Records)
Fear of a Black Jesus; CD/LP (1992, Bad Vugum)
Sähkömies; Digital/CD/LP (1994, Sähkö Recordings)
Europa; Digital/CD/LP (1995, Sähkö Recordings)
Intervision; Digital/CD/LP (1997, Warp)
Venera; EP/CD, (1998, Warp)
Organism; Digital/CD/LP (1999 Warp/Sire Records)
Out Of Nowhere; Digital/CD/LP (2000, Warp)
Cosmic Relief; Digital/EP, (2001, Sähkö Recordings)
Utopian Dream; Digital/CD/LP (2001, Sähkö Recordings)
Higher Planes; Digital/CD/LP (2003, Kitty-Yo)
Beyond The Stars; Digital/CD/LP (2004, Kitty-Yo)
ReComposed by Jimi Tenor; Digital/CD/LP (2006, Deutsche Grammophon)
Live in Berlin; Digital (2007, Kitty-Yo)
With Abdissa Assefa
Itetune; LP (2011, Temmikongi)
With Kabu Kabu
Sunrise; EP/CD (2006, Sähkö Recordings)
Joystone; Digital/CD/LP (2007, Sähkö Recordings)
Mystery Spot; 7″ (2008, Sahco Records)
4th Dimension; Digital/CD/LP (2009, Sähkö Recordings)
Mystery of Aether; Digital/CD/LP (2012, Kindred Spirits)
With Tony Allen
Inspiration Information Volume 4; Digital/CD/LP (2009, Strut Records)
With Lary 7, Mia Teodoratus; Soft Focus
Soft Focus; Digital/LP (2013, Sähkö Recordings)
With Nicole Willis; Cola & Jimmu
Enigmatic; Digital/CD/LP (2013, Herakles Records)
I Give To You My Love And Devotion; Digital/CD/LP (2014, Herakles Records)
With Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators (As also Jimmy Tenor)
You Better Change/Raw Steaks; 7″ (2003, Sahco Records)
If This Ain’t Love (Don’t Know What Is)/Instrumental; 7″/Maxi/WL/CD (2005/2007, Timmion Records/Above The Clouds/Differ-Ant)
Keep Reachin’ Up; Digital/CD/LP/Cass (2005/2006/2007/2008, Timmion Records/Mit-Wit Records/P-Vine Records/Light In The Attic/Above The Clouds/Differ-Ant)
My Four Leaf Clover/Holdin’ On; 7″ (2006, Timmion Records)
Feeling Free/Instrumental; 7″ (2006/2007, Timmion Records/Above The Clouds)
Tell Me When/It’s All Because Of You; 7″ (2013, Timmion Records)
Tortured Soul; Digital/CD/LP (2013, Timmion Records/P-Vine Records)
Paint Me In A Corner/Where Are You Now; 7″ (2015, Timmion Records)
Happiness In Every Style; Digital/CD/LP (2015, Timmion Records)
One In A Million/Instrumental; Digital/7″ (2015, Timmion Records)
Let’s Communicate/Instrumental; 7″ (2015, Timmion Records)
With Nicole Willis featuring Tony Allen
All For You/Touching; 7″ (2015, Sahco Records)
With Myron & E with The Soul Investigators
Broadway; Digital/CD/LP (2013, Timmion Records)
With Willie West & The High Society Brothers
Lost Soul; Digital/CD/LP (2014, Timmion Records)
With The Soul Investigators
Vulture’s Prayer/Bad Viberations; 7″ (2015, Timmion Records)
Soul Groove; Digital/CD/LP (2015, Timmion Records)
With UMO Jazz Orchestra
Mysterium Magnum; Digital/CD/LP (2015, Herakles Records)
Torsten, The Beautiful Libertine
(Strike Force Entertainment SFE045)
The upbeat ‘Statement of Intent’ opens Andy Bell’s seventh studio collection, and from the word go, it’s on its feet, weaving and punchy. The cavalcade of ‘liggers and leeches and fair weather friends’ are dealt with economically, and Andy even sucker-punches the listener with a spat-out ‘Go To Hell’
‘Beautiful Libertine’s weaving melody sets the scene for a lamentation about the romantic Paris of poets and philosophers, long since replaced by today’s smart neighbourhoods and tourist traps. Undeterred, our runaway seeks out the French capital’s more dangerous pleasures in lesser visited arrondissements, in some of the most elegant lyrics on this CD.
The sinister, Brechtian ‘Loitering With Intent’ takes delight in its vengeful diatribe, suffused with sardonic humour. Accompanied only by piano, Andy continues the Weimar cabaret theme in ‘This Town Needs Jesus’, a matter of fact, slap-down story of disgust, disease and despair with the age-old possibility of an offer of redemption. The tinkling sound of a piano playing at a party punctuated by police sirens opens ‘The Slums We Loved’, a reminisce about a past many would choose to forget. Our narrator has fonder memories in this song of the low neighbourhood which provided at least a shelter, a pub to visit and a dark corner for an exciting tryst.
‘Lady Domina Bizarre’s opening telephone message makes certain the listener knows what he or she is in for, and then throws them straight into a full blooded music hall tale, delivered in purple prose, peppered with profanities. Our first taste of electronica is remarkably light touch, but there’s little else in ‘(Ooh Baby, you’re So) Queercore!’ that could be so termed. A joint vocal with firebrand bar singer Lana Pellay, this motor mouthed, box-checking dismissal of a supposed former lover proves too trying for this listener.
A perfunctory backing leaves enough space for another one way conversation in ‘Blow Jobs For Cocaine’, with our narrator showing a curiously censorious side to the deliverer of favours he’s also been prepared to give to others. The chanting and fearful vocals to ‘I’m Your Lover’ recalls Sweeney Todd more than the late Mr Bowie it seems to be aiming at, but the gorgeous Eastern beat and Grand Guignol imagery is well worth listening to. The best thing about ‘Rupert Drinks Vodka’ may be its backing, as its brief, catty tale of an old lush unwinds with little humour and even less interest.
The hard, reviving dance beats of ‘We Were Singing Along To Liza’ shows realistic single potential. Sticking to a well-loved musical formula in a fondly remembered tale, this one gets my vote for standout track.
With a cloying music box backing, ‘Photos of Daniel’ unrolls the regretful tale of a former life with a certain humour, and any resemblance to characters living or dead, is presumably only an unfortunate coincidence. It’s rare that Andy lets that fine voice fly here, and a shame we have to wait until ‘I Am The Boy Who Smiled At You’ for an involved, emotional performance of a song with the depth and rawness its subject deserves. With our ration of passion behind us, it’s back to delicate piano notes overlaid with standard sleaze, in ’Bond Street Catalogues’. Lyrically, it’s a winner, with a tale of a money-grubbing bawd doing what’s necessary to amass the ackers, but being more Carry On that Jacques Brel, it’s just a footnote here.
The steady rocking guitar, bass and synth Euro-epic ‘My Precious One’ represents more singles material, making this listener wish for a collection full of this honest-to goodness pop.
‘To Have And To Hold’s all too brief, gentle croon does its work, then blends into a reprise of ‘Statement Of Intent’, to deliver the coup de grace. Andy’s strengths are well known, but maybe they’re all too rarely on show here. BUY HERE!
Pelican West (Deluxe Edition)
Brit-Funk 6-piece Haircut 100 ‘s near chart topper ‘’Pelican West’’ has been given a new lease of life thanks to Cherry Red Records. The album has been given the full deluxe treatment and it now comes as a 2-cd set with disc one comprising the full studio album, plus B sides and the non-album top ten single ‘’Nobody’s Fool’’, while the second disc comprises a total of thirteen songs, including 12” versions of their singles, previously unreleased tracks and a live version of the top ten hit single ‘’Fantastic Day’’.
Haircut 100 became an overnight pop sensation after being signed by Arista Records in 1981. Within a matter of weeks of being signed to the label they scored a top 5 hit with their debut single ‘’Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’’. Within a year they had a prolific run of three top ten singles ‘’Love Plus One’’, ‘’Fantastic Day’’ and ‘’Nobody’s Fool’’ and a platinum selling album. Their debut long player ‘’Pelican West’’ hit number two in the album charts and stayed there for 34 weeks and could boast 300,000 album sales by the close of 1982.
Sadly Haircut 100 would never repeat this success and when the band decided to record their follow-up ‘’Paint and Paint’’ in 1984, they did so without Nick Heyward, who went on to pursue a solo career. To record an album without the singer and songwriter may seem foolhardy and so it proved as the album was ignored by their fans and by the fickle music press of the day.
However, 1982 was Haircut 100’s year and their uplifting and infectiously breezy toe tapping funk pop sound frequented the FM airwaves with almost annoying regularity. Their singles in particular were almost perfectly formed and all came in at around the three-minute mark and were effortlessly catchy, with hummable melodies, sing a long choruses, exuberant stabs of brass, and elements of danceable jazz funk, which made Haircut 100’s songs (whether you like them or not) easily accessible, and instantly recognisable to the point of being indelibly etched in the listeners head.
Often dismissed as a pop band that you parents or little brother and sister would like, it is fair to say that Haircut 100 lacked the kudos and credibility of uber cool outfits like Orange Juice and The Smiths. Haircut 100 may have lacked the wry humour and morose observations of the aforementioned but is it not fair to say that music is essentially a hedonistic pleasure? And Haircut 100 did what all-great pop bands do and that was make maddeningly hook laden pop songs with catchy lyrics and melodies.
Haircut 100 had a clean-cut musical and sartorial aesthete that made them an attractive proposition to a young audience, and having a number of songs already written it was not surprising that they were attracting the interest of numerous record companies before signing to Arista Records. Having a foppish and boyishly pretty front man also did the band’s cause no harm at all, and it would be fair to assume that Nick Heyward must have adorned the front cover of Smash Hits with alarming regularity in the early 1980s.
So how does ‘’Pelican West’’ stand up thirty-four years after it’s initial release? It is an album that is most definitely rooted in 1982 and it is difficult to imagine this record existing in any other time period. However, what is striking for a group often dismissed, as just another boy band is that they were musically knowledgeable, and the album demonstrated a diverse range of musical influences that were woven together seamlessly to create a sound that was uniquely their own and without a single whiff of pastiche.
Haircut 100 cleverly meshed disco, post punk, funk and classic pop to produce an (at the time) ultra modern slickly produced album. The album’s clever song sequence sees it open with the straight right, left combination of two of their best-known songs, ‘’Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’’ and ‘’Love Plus One’’. It was a shrewd gamble to open the album up with two singles in a row, and the result as Haircut 100 surely knew was that ‘’Pelican West’’ was a pop album that could not be ignored.
The comparison with their contemporaries Orange Juice is not difficult to hear on white boy funk workouts like ‘’Lemon Firebrigade’’ and ‘’Marine Boy’’. The production is glossy and slick but not to the point where the songs are thinned out and tinny sounding. There is an almost Tropicana flavour to these two particular tracks because of the exuberant sounding brass section and percussion, but the songs still sound defiantly pop.
If there is one other candidate for a single on this album then it is surely ‘’Milk Film’’, which segues seamlessly into ‘’Kingsize (You’re My Little Steam Whistle)’’, and then ‘’Fantastic Day’’ which presumably everybody knows even sub consciously. At this stage of the album it would be fair to say that ‘’Pelican West’’ has just enough depth to make it a little bit more than a throwaway pop record with novelty appeal.
Nick Heyward’s lyrics often verge on the nonsensical and do not bear up too much scrutiny when read in isolation. ‘’Snow Girl’’, ‘’Love’s Got Me In Triangles’’ and album closer ‘’Calling Captain Autumn’’ all demonstrate that Nick Heyward must have written these songs at random, and despite the utter nonsense of the lyrics they absolutely work in the context of the album.
It is difficult to see ‘’Pelican West’’ connecting with casual listeners or the snooty so-called rock n roll elite, because it is an album that is defiantly and unashamedly a 1980s pop record. If you were a fan of Haircut 100 back in 1982 then this is a worthy purchase especially for all the bonus material that is included on disc 2. However, if you are an uninhibited pop music fan then ‘’Pelican West’’ is worth the price of admission just for the four sparkling pop singles alone. BUY HERE!
Cellist and multi-instrumentalist Christopher Bell blends the classical and pop worlds. Clarinet, acoustic guitar, beat boxing and cello recorded live into dense soundscapes. Hip hop beats, gentle fugues, jazz and blues all wrapped up into his own brand of Quirky Pop. For fans of Paul Simon and Andrew Bird.
01. How did you get started in music?
I started as a drummer 20 years ago and switched over to cello.
02 .Where did your direction come from?
Checking out all sorts of different music and seeing how they could fit together.
03. Who were your major influences and inspirations?
Randy Newman, Paul Simon, Andrew Bird.
04. What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?
I’ve started studying eastern classical music as well as getting more into jazz
05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your shows?
Having a lot of fun, maybe learning something, and seeing that classical instruments can be cool.
06. How do you begin writing your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
Usually i just take something that happened in my own life and exaggerate it out, make it happen to someone dumber.
07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?
Even though the songs can be based off real life, they’re less about me, and more about characters.
08. What has been your biggest challenge? How were you able to overcome this?
My biggest challenge was learning how to put in the work to achieve this, I just had to canoe 550 miles! Really taught me how to do something big its just a day
at a time.
09. If you could pick any song, what would you like to cover most and why?
There’s too many to count.
10. Where do you envisage being in five years time?
Hopefully still playing.
11. Who would you most like to record with?
I would have loved to sit in on a session with Louis Armstrong, even if I was just playing the tambourine.
12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?
New music in within the next year, after I finish the next semester back at college, excited to put all this new knowledge to work.
Manhattan-based saxophonist Daniel Bennett has been hailed as one of the most original and unpredictable musical voices of his generation. Daniel Bennett can be heard throughout the world performing his award-winning compositions on saxophone, flute, clarinet, and oboe. Daniel Bennett is currently touring the United States with renowned guitarist Nat Janoff, bassist Eddy Khaimovich, and master percussionist Matthew Feick. The Boston Globe describes Bennett’s music as “a mix of jazz, folk, and minimalism.” The Daniel Bennett Group was recently voted “Best New Jazz Group” in the Hot House Magazine NYC Jazz Contest. The Daniel Bennett Group has been featured in the Boston Globe, NPR, First Coast Living (NBC), Indianapolis Public Radio, St. Louis Public Radio and the Village Voice. Daniel Bennett is also very active in the New York City musical theater scene. He recently composed the musical score for stage adaptations of “Frankenstein” and “Brave Smiles” at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan. Daniel Bennett recently played woodwinds in “Blank! The Musical,” the first fully improvised Off-Broadway musical to launch on a national stage. The New York Times called the show, “Witty, Likable and Ludicrous!” Daniel Bennett’s theatrical works have strongly influenced his eclectic sound and musical storytelling abilities as a bandleader. We caught up with him recently…
01 How did you get started in music?
I live in Manhattan, but the Daniel Bennett Group actually formed in Boston in 2004. I had just finished my masters degree in saxophone performance from the New England Conservatory. I was also doubling on flute, clarinet, and oboe quite regularly. I was composing music that blended modern jazz with American Folk music and elements of experimental classical music. My musical journey began when I was ten years old. My older sister took me to the high school jazz band Christmas concert. I’ll never forget it. I heard the jazz band play a rendition of “The Pink Panther.” I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a full time musician, and it’s hard to imagine I have been leading a band for over 10 years. The Daniel Bennett Group has toured extensively and recently shared concert billings with Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter Trio, Steve Kuhn, Greg Osby Duo, James Carter Organ Trio, Joy Electric, and Billy Martin. In addition to leading the band, I recently toured Italy and Switzerland with world music ensemble, Musaner. I have performed with the Portland Symphony, the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, and other symphonic groups. I am very active as a pit orchestra musician in Manhattan. I composed and performed the original score for the stage adaptations of “Frankenstein” and “Brave Smiles” at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan. I also recently performed in the off-Broadway show, “Blank! The Musical.” The show was produced by the insanely gifted comedians at Second City, Improv Boston, and Upright Citizens Brigade. It was the first fully improvised musical to launch on a national stage. My work in the theater world has strongly influenced my eclectic “storytelling” approach to musical performance. I would say that the Daniel Bennett Group is very “theatrical” in our performance aesthetic and stage presence.
02 Where did your direction come from?
My direction is fueled by the energy and musical output of the people whom I perform with. Daniel Bennett Group just released our 6th full length album, “The Mystery At Clown Castle,” on the Manhattan Daylight Media label. The album was produced by MP Kuo at Lofish Studio in Manhattan. I play alto saxophone, flute, piccolo, clarinet, and oboe on the album. I am joined by guitarist Nat Janoff, Eddy Khaimovich on bass, and Matthew Feick on drums. Nat Janoff has performed with artists like Michael Brecker, Matt Garrison, Kenny Burrell and Dave Samuels. He also leads his own band at the 55 Bar in Manhattan every month. Matthew Feick is very active in the musical theater scene. I met Matthew when we were in the pit orchestra for “Urinetown” at the Secret Theatre in New York City.
03 Who are your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?
I love the music of Ornette Coleman, Paul Desmond, The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. I generally love any music that has a great melody and displays a vibrant sense of honesty. I despise any music that lacks integrity or soul.
04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound
I am inspired by my surroundings. I am always trying to evolve and grow as an artist. “The Mystery at Clown Castle” is a bold departure from anything we have done in the past. I threw away all conventional “rules” in the production process and really did this record my way. Surprisingly, this album features electric bass prominently. Eddy Khaimovich plays fretted and fretless electric bass brilliantly on the album. This album also features special guest poet, Britt Melewski. I first read Britt’s poetry in the Philadelphia Review of Books. I was so honored to have Britt contribute two poems on The Mystery at Clown Castle. Our producer, MP Kuo, auto-tuned Britt’s voice to increase the intensity and creepiness of the poem. We also feature pianist Jason Yeager on a few tracks. Jason is a very prolific sideman and bandleader on the Inner Circle record label. I have known Jason for many years. Jason performs frequently with Ran Blake, Greg Osby, and John McNeil. Jason has a sound and feel that is perfect for this music. The Daniel Bennett Group has released six albums in the last ten years: A Nation of Bears, The Legend of Bear Thompson, Peace and Stability Among Bears, Live at the Theatre, Clockhead Goes to Camp, and The Mystery At Clown Castle. Each album is a very honest snapshot of who I am in that moment in time.
05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?
Expect the unexpected! I am currently touring with guitarist Nat Janoff and Matthew Feick on the drums. I am playing alto saxophone, flute, piccolo, and oboe on this tour. We have been performing most of the songs from “The Mystery At Clown Castle.” You will hear original melodies, as well as American folk music references and elements of Celtic music. Our live concerts take many creative detours and spontaneous turns. We love to engage the audience. Every night can be so different!
06 How do you begin your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
I am a saxophonist, but I actually write all of my songs from the guitar. The process is somewhat simple in many ways. I only writes songs that I can easily sing. I don’t restrict myself to any time signature or key signature. The composition goes wherever the melody is leading it. I have studied the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass extensively. I am drawn towards repetition of phrases, gradual shifting of melodic shapes, and slightly free-form improvisation. I am a classically trained, even though I make my living as a jazz player. I have a masters degree in Saxophone Performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston. While studying at NEC, I performed music by contemporary classical composers like Ingolf Dahl, Paul Creston, Eugene Bozza, Pierre Max Dubois, and Alfred Desenclos (to name a few). I also performed numerous transcriptions of pieces by Rachmaninoff, Bach, and Mozart. In 2002, I performed the Concertino da Camera by Jacques Ibert as a soloist with the Roberts Wesleyan College Orchestra. All of these experiences have shaped who I am as a composer. I love any song with a great melody. I am equally influenced by Steve Reich’s “New York Counterpoint,” Ornette Coleman’s “Skies of America,” and the Smiths “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” All are masterpieces. I grew up playing in the church, so I love hymns like “It is Well with My Soul” and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I see no boundary line between any genre of music. I transcribe Paul Desmond saxophone solos every week. I just transcribed his solo on “Out of Nowhere.” Some of his lines could have been pulled from a Bach invention. No joke. Some would say that I have a slightly twisted mind when it comes to my conceptual approach to music. The Daniel Bennett Group recently released a “trilogy” of albums based on a fictional bear named Bear Thompson. I’m a big fan of cartoon animation, storytelling, and programmatic music. The albums were entitled, A Nation of Bears, The Legend of Bear Thompson, and Peace and Stability Among Bears. I frequently collaborate with visual artists who design our album artwork. I have been very fortunate to have Timothy Banks design most of our album covers. Banks has done a lot of work for Paste Magazine and Cartoon Network and is a real super talent!
07 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?
Our earlier musical material was more influenced by American folk music. I grew up listening to Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel. After moving to New York City, my music has taken on a more “back-beat” driven vibe. There is almost a pop aesthetic to our new songs.
08 What has been your biggest challenge? Have you been able to overcome this? If so, how?
My worst moments happen when I am too focused on myself. Every day I wake up and try to think of ten people I can help. This takes the attention off myself and focuses my heart and mind for the day. It’s not always easy. I pray a lot! The music industry requires us to basically “sell ourselves” every single day. There is nothing wrong with our desire to make money. My wife and I just welcomed our second child in September. And it’s not cheap to live on the upper east side of Manhattan! So I need to find balance in everything that I do. A wise man once told me, “worship God and serve the people.” That is something I strive towards. It’s a tough challenge, but so rewarding!
09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?
We do play covers occasionally. We just played a concert at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club in Maryland. We spontaneously played “Daniel” by Elton John as an encore. It actually sounds quite nice on the flute. It’s a beautiful melody. We also mix jazz standards into our repertoire frequently. People don’t know that I actually spent a decade playing mostly straight-ahead jazz all over the world. I love the music of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter.
10 Where did you envisage being in five years time?
I envision myself meeting many new people. Music is about relationships and love. We just returned from a tour in Kansas. We met so many great people that we now consider to be our friends. It’s a great thing!
11 Who would you most like to record with?
I would love to record a saxophone and vocal duet with Morrisey. Maybe I could even convince Johnny Marr to burry the hatchet and reunite with Morrissey for one song!
12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?
Daniel Bennett Group is touring on the west coast, Midwest, and parts of Florida this year. We also perform every month at Tomi Jazz in midtown Manhattan. We are recording the next album in December. Stay tuned!
After the demise of the Blue Shadows, eldest brother Jeff returns to his hometown and the gang (brothers Don, Paul and David Briggs) get back together to do some new music. Augmented by bassist John Neal and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter extraordinaire Ken Pinchin the line-up becomes known as Hatcher/Briggs and release the Getting There from Here CD (2010). Turns out that was just a teaser and the sold-out local gigs (infrequent but always stellar) were encouraging enough to re-christen themselves the Fuse and get another long player under their belts.
So, here we are now in 2015 with the latest by the re-christened Fuse. The rusted out car on the cover is hardly reflective of the music within. A fully restored El Camino might have been more appropriate in this instance. The band’s mature blend of countrified roots-rock, funky Band-esque bomp, psyche and baroque pop, and track after track of harmony-fuelled lyrical splendour place them head and shoulders over countless pretenders and if all goes well this carefully crafted gem should find itself in regular rotation on any number of radio programs and music players still dedicated to real people playing real music with all their heart and soul.