Hulaween Preview: 10 Questions with The New Mastersounds
The New Mastersounds have become Suwannee staples after appearing at festivals like Bear Creek and the Purple Hatters Ball, and this year they’ll make their debut at Suwannee Hulaween. We couldn’t be more excited to see the band, who also have a great new album out called Made for Pleasure. You can pick that up here via Royal Potato Family.
The band was nice enough to answer some questions about the new record and the upcoming gig at Suwannee Hulaween. Below you’ll see answers from drummer Simon Allen and guitarist Eddie Roberts.
Now that the new record, Made for Pleasure, is out, how do you feel?
Simon: Flatulent? Nauseous? Relieved? Triumphant? We’re enjoying playing some of the new tunes live on this tour and we’ve been getting some great feedback about the record from fans at the shows.
What has changed between this record and last year’s Therapy?
Simon: Made For Pleasure was recorded in New Orleans instead of Denver, with different guests (see below). And this time we have a US label – Royal Potato Family – handling the US release on all three formats: CD/LP/Digital, which was synchronised with the European release (on German label, Légère Recordings.) On the new record, there’s a reggae track called “Fancy.” How did that one come about?
Eddie: I asked my daughter Minnie to suggest a pop tune for us to cover and she sent a YouTube link to Kasabian performing a live acoustic version of “Fancy” by Iggy Azelea. None of us had heard either version before but I could tell straight away that a reggae approach would work. Initially our version was going to be instrumental like “Treasure”, and we had horns with us to lift the melody, but a few months later when I was mixing the album I was in a bar in Denver one evening and saw an MC called Spellbinder toasting over a DJ. I introduced myself and invited him to come and put some vocals on our track. Spellbinder changed the line from “I’m so fancy” to “I’m so irie”, and he sounds great! There’s also a beautiful song called “Cigar Time.” Are you big cigar smokers? What kind do you like to smoke?
I’m the only one in the band who smokes cigars and I actually don’t smoke too often any more. The title refers to my little meditative time-out from everyone else when we’re out on the road. I only smoke Cubans (because I’m British and we’ve always enjoyed normal trade relations with Cuba.) Tell us about the guests you have on the new album, both on vocals and horns
Eddie: HORNS: I’ve been working with Joe (Cohen) and Mike (Olmos) for a couple of years with my side-project, The West Coast Sounds. They had also performed with NMS at some of the larger American gigs. We really wanted to capture their energy on a record. Mike and Joe had been together as a unit nearly as long as we have, so they have developed an intuitive way of working – they can improvise lines and harmonize them “on the fly”. One of them taps out a rhythm on the other’s shoulder and then they both start playing flawlessly at the same time. It’s very impressive on a live gig, and we knew that their fluent creativity could easily be harnessed in the studio. CHARLY LOWRY: I met her two years ago when performing with an all-star band in Asheville, North Carolina (her home state) and had wanted to co-write with her since then. Like the horns, she has also performed on stage with us in the USA, but up until MFP we have had to choose cover versions for her to sing. (Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Alice Clark etc..) That’s aways fun, but now we have three original songs we can play with her too. MIKE DILLON: We’ve been rubbing shoulders with this guy on the US live scene for nearly a decade and have enjoyed many sit-ins from him (the most recent one being in New Orleans last JazzFest when he joined us for an entire set.) He’s so much fun to work and play with and has an impressive command of a whole range of different percussion instruments. He was on Jamcruise during our recording week but he jumped straight off the boat in Miami, onto a plane (must have been a seaplane!) then drove straight into the studio on the last day to overdub parts on three of the album tracks. I’ve had the pleasure of catching multiple New Mastersounds shows at the Brooklyn Bowl. Tell us, what’s your relationship with that venue?
Simon: We’ve been playing there for about 5 years now. Pete Shapiro and his empire are great supporters of what we’re doing and of live music in general, and we love working with the whole team down there. We try to get there at least twice a year for a weekend residency.
I’ve also had the pleasure of catching multiple shows at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. What makes that place so special for you and the band?
Simon: Paul Levine and his team have become great friends over the years since the first Bear Creek back in 2007(?) – they always create a family vibe in this magical woodland location and now they are doing same for Hulaween a couple of weeks earlier, so with any luck it will be just as special but not quite as cold at night.
What can we expect from your set there?
Eddie: The usual combination of high-energy funkiness combined with classy jazz elements but with the addition of silly costumes. And maybe a spooky musical surprise.
In the US, you guys are known partially as the token British band in the jam scene. How do you feel about that tag?
Simon: Aren’t we the ONLY British band in the jam scene? So as well as the token British band we’re also the best – and the worst – British band in the jam scene.
Thanks for your time. We can’t wait to see you in the Suwannee. Anything else to add?
Simon: Bring plenty of layers in case we’re wrong about the weather.