Easy Star All Stars are easily one of the best tribute bands ever formed. By breaking out onto the scene in 2003 with their beloved tribute album of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon” (Dub Side of The Moon), the group has shaped a home for themselves in the world music festival scene.
HYPE editor, Phil Sunkel, got a chance to sit down with Shelton Garner (Guitar, Vocals), Elenna Canlas (Keys, Vocals), Kirsty Rock (Vocals) and Buford O’Sullivan (Trombone) of Easy Star to talk about tour life, the food on the road and doing laundry together.
HYPE (Phil Sunkel)- So I’m gonna do this interview a little different and just hand off the mic to you guys to pass around. Easy Star just got back into the states from being overseas for a bit. Could you tell me a bit about how that tour went?
Elenna Canlas- We did a bunch of festivals, a few in the UK, Belgium, France, Spain and Poland. The highlights for that trip were definitely the festivals. We did Rototom Sunsplash, which is one of the biggest reggae festivals in Europe. We also did BoomTown Fair, which is really fun, thats a big one in the UK. I also think another highlight was Scotland, where Kirsty’s family is from.
Buford O’Sullivan- Another thing about these long trips is that your playing every single night, traveling every single day and it starts eating away at your brain until you get to the end of the tour where you really don’t have much of a brain left. I mean you have some, you can remember a little bit of it but mainly its just guttural reaction. Like grabbing for food or like oh yes theres beer, time to drink now, or oh time to play, where is hotel. In the beginning of tour everyone is a bit fresher and more enthusiastic to go. We actually began the tour in Italy which was great…
Elenna- Oh yeah…
Buford- See Elenna forgot…
Elenna- It was only a few weeks ago…
Buford- It was only a few weeks ago but it seems like it was about a year ago, you know? Remember we played Milan in that industrial park? There was maybe a thousand or more people there.
Kirsty Rock- I think in terms of your performance as a lunatic, I think all of that added to your performance.
Buford- I mean probably yeah. I have to get into character singing “Brain Damage”, so I guess thats what happened, method acting. But where were we after Italy? After Italy we were in the UK and we played a bunch of festivals, Then…
Elenna- Then Belgium…
Buford- Yeah, then we did Belgium on the coast on the beach. We did the Reggae Sun Ska Festival in Bordeaux, then we went back to England to play up at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, which was rocking. Sold out London at the Jazz Cafe, we sold out a bunch of places. Where else did we sell out? This has been good To Rock, I’m Buford O’Sullivan.
Kirsty- We sold them all out, I’m pretty sure we sold all of our shows out…
Buford- Oh wait, ladies and gentleman, Elenna Canlis.
Kirsty- This over here is Shelton Garner.
Shelton Garner- Hello…
Kirsty- Any highlights?
Shelton- One of the biggest highlights for me had to be Spain, I’ve never been there and it was pretty awesome. The whole tour was really good, a lot of great audiences and shows.
HYPE- Well, I also want to ask you all, what makes hitting the road so hard, worthwhile?
Shelton- The fans. For me thats what makes it all worthwhile and thats kind of why I do this, thats why we go out and play. We wouldn’t be going to any of these places without the fans.
Kirsty- For me, its all about the food. We’re all foodie connoisseurs and we all just want to try whatevers the local thing in each region. In France we’re going to drink the Bordeaux wine, in Italy it was all about the figs, since fig season was just starting.
Buford- Yeah, food. Definitely food. You go different places and theres different kinds of food, your gonna want to eat the food that they have there. Especially Italy. The catering is great, I mean tremendous pasta. Forget Olive Garden, thats not real food. When you go down to the south of Italy and get some really great pasta, the breads are all really crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the wine doesn’t have a label on it cause its made by the guy around the corner who owns a vineyard. Desert. Incredible desert. We were eating the culture. We’re all complaining that we gained so much weight just because, even in England where they say the food just ins’t that good, I mean c’mon, Cornish pasties? We had someone tell us that if you have a cold, the cure is a Cornish pastie and a pint of cider. That will cure your cold. I mean there were other things. You want to see the locale, see the old castles or the beach. You want to try and go swimming in all the different places you can, its kind of like that and we made money doing it, so it was wonderful. Elenna, what do you have to say?
Elenna- I guess another thing that makes it worthwhile and is cultural as well, is meeting all the people along the road. Musicians, people that are coming out to the shows a lot,
its amazing to see people every where we go who have this thing in common, the love for this music. Its quite a great experience to see that every where.
HYPE- Now I want to talk to you all about music. Can we expect a new album some time soon? Perhaps a cover album?
Kirsty- Well we’re all currently working on some original material, whether its for Easy Star or ourselves is to be determined. We’re all constantly writing music and working on different projects and so on. In terms of what Easy Star might put out as our next tribute, we’re not sure when thats going to be coming out. But we do have some stuff in mind as material that we’ll be using. As Buford will tell you though…
Buford- Buford will tell you that its Top Secret and if we were to tell you, you wouldn’t be able to live through the night. So out of respect for you, we’re just not going to tell you what it is. So that you can live a nice long healthy life.
HYPE- Could you tell me a little about the progression of Easy Star form a studio band to a live act?
Shelton- I think that with the success of Dub Side Of The Moon, people wanted to hear that live. So the original lineup decided to get a band together. The musical force behind the label is Michael Goldwasser, whose also a guitar player and writer, so he knew a lot of folks from different places and from that point its just become an ever-growing family of people and friends of his or other band members who have joined in, it just keeps growing.
HYPE- What would you say is the most interesting thing about being in Easy Star?
Elenna- The most interesting thing about being in Easy Star, aside from the Top Secret lose your life thing, is the diversity of our group, which is based in New York and kind of captures that. Everybody is from different places but the band is based in NY, so most of us live there now and the ones who don’t had lived there. We all really came from the NY reggae scene. Yeah we just got some characters up in this bitch.
Elenna- Myself not included, I am not a character. I’m a real person damn it!
Buford- Elenna is not a character at all, neither is Kirsty. Shelton’s not a character. I’m not a character. But it is just like Elenna said, theres so many different personalities in the band. Its like a little microcosm of a universe. People talk about politics and how we’re going to have world peace and whatever but we just have to sit in a van together and not kill each other. The fact is though that we all get along really well. I mean of course we’re gonna fight, have a blow out every now and then, people are gonna get tired and yell at each other but ultimately, we all know we’re in it for the fun, the love and the fact that we get to play our music…
Elenna- And do our laundry together…
Buford- And do our laundry together, oh yeah we did do laundry together. There was actually a nightclub in England that took our laundry in separate bags and gave it back all in one basket…
Elenna- The women were not pleased.
Buford- The women were not pleased. The men however had a good time…
HYPE- Thank you for sitting down with me guys. Always great getting to speak with you all.
For more info visit Easystar.com