We caught up with 7 piece band The Herbaliser to ask them 7 questions about their new album ‘We Were Seven’ upcoming shows, remixes and what we can expect in the new year.
1. Tell us about the new album, what direction it takes, themes etc and what does ‘There Were Seven’ stand for?
OLLIE – I believe it was when we were making our previous album Session 2 that it occurred to us that the next album would be number seven. We always liked number orientated titles for LPs, Bob James 1 through 4 and the Led Zeppelin records to name a couple of examples. It seemed appropriate to do this for number seven as there are seven members of the Herbaliser Band. Once I started thinking about concepts for artwork etc I got to things like The Seven Samurai, Magnificent Seven, Seven Golden Vampires some ideas about a group of seven warriors of sound started to form.
This album is very much a return after a period of absence and it seemed right to try and work this into a story, that, although not incredibly obvious, provides a framework for the relationship between the tracks, what they are called, and how the artwork is presented. So behind the music there is a story of Seven warriors that return to their homeland to find it taken over by a malignant machine. A beautiful world of sound and colour that is being re-written by an artificial intelligence with its own bland idea of perfection. Its kind of a metaphor for how we feel about todays music industry, with its whiney robot-voiced electronic pop and dance music.
2. What have you been up to over the four year break?
JAKE- I’ve had to deal with two bouts of Hodgkins Disease and the accompanying chemotherapy and radiotherapy, so that took me out for 18 months and then I moved my old studio, which was on an oil refinery which was extremely unhealthy, to a purpose built studio at the end of my garden. We finished the record in February, but as we put the record out on our own label, Department H, we took time to get distribution and marketing properly in place before the release.
We also did a project for Warner Chappell where we got access to a huge vault of 70′s library music and were given free reign to sample/remix/re-jig the tracks, it is a non-commercial release called “Nuggets 03″ and old school Herbaliser fans will love it.
3. What can we expect from the live show?
JAKE – Lots of the tracks from “There Were Seven” will be in the show and one of the featured rappers, Ghettosocks, has flown over to perform at The Forum, as well as on our forthcoming European tour in December. We also will do a one off performance of “The Lost Boy” with Hannah Clive.
OLLIE – Its actually going to be a special version, like a live mash-up with Moon Sequence (from Very Mercenary) and Zero Hill featuring rhymes from Ghettosocks.
4. What does the future hold for The Herbaliser? Any plans?
JAKE – We put a lot of money into releasing “There Were Seven” so we need to see if any of that comes back, else there will be people from the bank coming knocking soon! But we’d like to put out a series of collaborative E.P’s, all with different themes.
5. Tell us about the collabs on the album, how they came about and how/why you choose them?
JAKE – Hannah Clive has been a friend of my brother for years and I heard some of her demos a year or so ago and thought they were really good, she’s a great lyricist as well as singer so we got her down to write with us on “The Lost Boy”.
Ollie was DJ’ing in Halifax, Nova Scotia a few years back and Ghettosocks was on the same bill. Ollie thought he was a really good emcee, so they exchanged details and we made plans to work together.
We’d almost finished the album when we realised that we didn’t have a British emcee on the record, a friend of ours told us to check out George The Poet, who had stuff on You Tube. He impressed us so we asked if he’d like to collaborate.
Then we know a guy called Peter Hope-Evans, who is a harmonica player who played in a cult 70′s band called “Medicine Head” and also has done a lot of work with Pete Townsend. He’s an amazing player and was a friend of Ollie’s parents, he plays on two tracks on the album.
6. Being a seven piece band, how do you write a piece? How do you come up with the themes, layers on production and who does this?
JAKE – Actually Ollie and I write the stuff together at first, one of us will come up with something based on a sample (usually Ollie) or I’ll get a bass line groove going, then layer by layer we add to it, with samples, orchestral sounds on a sampler. Then we give the idea over to Ralph Lamb and Andy Ross from our horn section and they add horns.
We also got a new band member called James Morton who is an alto sax player and he did a few sessions with Ollie and I on “Inside the Machine”, “Deep In The Woods” and “Move as One”.
7. Anyone else in the UK that’s shining for you at the moment? Anyone you would to to collaborate with but haven’t yet?
OLLIE – If I’m being brutally honest there isn’t a whole lot in 2011/12 that has been particularly inspiring for us. George the Poet has a light in him that shines very bright and when he was brought to our attention, we just knew we had to do something with him. He provides a refreshing alternative to the most of the younger cats coming out of the UK.
There’s still plenty that we are into coming from heads that have been knocking around forever though. Like Sleeping Giants, that has Rodney P and Fallacy all over it. Rodney continues to sound fresh after 25 years of making records and the stuff they are doing is very modern but has that funk that we just don’t feel is coming from a lot of other stuff right now.
To catch The Herbaliser make sure you grab tickets to this special one off gig to launch the new album, backed by the likes of Belleruche and Ninjas very own DJ Food amongst others. Tickets available from here: http://www.soundcrashmusic.com/the-herbaliser-belleruche-dj-cam-dj-food/
Here’s a minimix of the latest album:
Interview by Nev
Thanks to Soundcrash and Grindstone