When it comes to the best Funk coming out of Great Britain, one name always stands out, New Mastersounds. With over 14 years together, the guys have managed to master a sound so uniquely funky and their own, that they have become legends in their own right. Editor Phil Sunkel recently met up with NMS guitarist, Eddie Roberts, to talk about their show coming up in Jacksonville at Underbelly, Bear Creek and their latest album.
P. Sunkel: I saw that you guys have a show coming up in the Jacksonville area January 2nd at Underbelly with Orgone and Monophonics, tell me a little about that…
Eddie: You couldn’t wish for a better lineup for a show like that. Both bands are great friends of ours and I’m actually really excited for that show. I love the way both bands just pick it up with so much momentum. I mean Orgone have been hitting it hard for years, they really deserve the buzz surrounding them right now. We used to be able to hit the road pretty hard but we’re getting old, I mean look at me I’ve got a cane now. Doing like 200 shows a year with travel and all is really tough. We’ve definitely done that, I see those guys doing that. Monophonics has definitely picked up momentum as well. They also have this amazing organ player who sings and they’re really doing great. Its going to be a really good night.
P. Sunkel: So we’re sitting here at Bear Creek, you guys have played a couple before this one, correct?
Eddie: No, not just a couple, all. I think theres only a handful of us that have played them all: Dumpstaphunk, us, Skerik and George Porter, are pretty much all the people who have done every single one. Lettuce started playing the second year and have played each year since then, but we’ve played every single one.
P.Sunkel: What do you think makes Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival so special?
Eddie: One of the best things about Bear Creek is that they have focused on funk. Where as, other festivals go in-between jazz to jam, everything in the jam field, from bluegrass to electronica and things like that. I mean there are other musical elements here, but the focus has definitely been on funk. I don’t really know of any other festival thats done that.
P. Sunkel: I totally agree with you, plus who doesn’t want to come to Florida?
Eddie: Haha well it’s a funny state thats for sure. This place is like a little oasis, I’ve never really spent that much time in Florida but you hear all the media shit about it and then you come to Bear Creek, It’s just not what I expected.
P. Sunkel: Haha well yeah they make it seem like it’s all beaches and sunshine down here.
Eddie: Yes that and theres also a lot of negative media regarding racism, you know thats still really instilled into this state. Florida has a bad rep worldwide, I mean don’t forget I understand on a worldwide perspective how Florida is represented. Its where a lot of British people go to retire, so theres that kind of bad rep and then all the stuff thats been going on in the media, either way its great that we have this little oasis.
P. Sunkel: Let’s get back to talking about music, you guys are about to release a brand new record coming up very soon, your producing this one and you produced the other NMS records, correct?
Eddie: I produced all our albums. I kind of do the majority of the writing, producing, I where most of the hats.
P. Sunkel: Tell me a little about the recording of the album in Denver…
Eddie: We recorded at this amazing new studio, very close to Red Rocks, You can actually see Red Rocks from there. I think its only been there about a year, actually
the bass player from a band called Kinetics was our engineer, he’s an old friend of ours. Basically everyone just got everything right when we were there. I’ve always recorded onto tape and then made it digital to mix and then we’d go back into the studio. They had this new technology called Clasp, which records onto tape but also records to ProTools as well. They really knew how to use the technology, everything worked very well. Theres nothing worse than getting into the studio and then what you were promised is not delivered. Probably one of the, no, it was the best studio experience we have ever had. We are very happy with the way it all come together.
P. Sunkel: You guys have made a ton of friends over the years, will we be seeing any guests on the album?
Eddie: We have Ryan Zoidis (Saxophone) from Lettuce on one track, we have a singer named Kim Dawson who sang with The Motet and she’s with us on two tracks and thats it.
P. Sunkel: And the album will be dropping in February?
Eddie: Yeah, it should be getting out around that time. We just finished mastering it on Tuesday….
P. Sunkel: Wow, so everything moved along pretty quickly…
Eddie: Yeah we recorded it in September, spent a couple weeks mixing it and then took it back into the studio to do the final mix and master, this is actually our ninth studio album. We’ve been busting out a bunch of the new songs at the live shows lately and the response has been great.
P. Sunkel: Yeah I saw that this was your guys ninth and NMS also has a whole bunch of live albums as well, right?
Eddie: Yeah we’ve got the nine studio albums and we’ve got a bunch of live and remix albums. We put out our first album out in 2001 and since then we’ve pretty much done an album every 18 months.
P. Sunkel: I want to ask about a song you guys played tonight, it had kind-of a dub reggae feel to it, the crowds reaction was pretty obvious…
Eddie: Yup, yup…
P. Sunkel: Will we be seeing that one on the new record?
Eddie: Yes, that ones on the album. The dub part at the end of that tune is just a killer. Theres like two-minutes of dub reggae at the end of that tune, its fun. We started playing that in Denver last weekend for the first time and by the time we had hit the third chorus there were people pretending to sing it and fist pumping into the air and I was just thinking to myself “ah this works, people like this”. Joe actually wrote that song, he’s a really great writer. I was always kind of the main writer but over the past few years Joe has done a really excellent job of pinpointing things in the music.
P. Sunkel: So you’ve been in Denver for a bit now, what’s it like traveling back and forth overseas?
Eddie: Well, I think one of the main reasons I do what I do, is because I love traveling, I just love it. I mean, I didn’t even get to go abroad until I was 26 and at that time I was a frustrated traveler, I just didn’t have the money. When you grow up in Britain, its just an island, you can’t go anywhere, you’ve got to fly places. That was before all of the cheaper airlines came along and it was very expensive just to fly into Europe. I always used to be so jealous of Europe because if your in France or Spain, Belgium or Holland, you can just get on a train and go to a different country. You can’t do that in Britain, you can go up and down, but thats about it.
So it wasn’t until I was 26 that I began to travel. We came together as a group for the first time in 2004, I never even expected to be playing in America. I actually moved here three years ago and I’d say that my expectations from when this all began, have far exceeded anything I could have expected. I really just love to travel though. We just got back in from Europe a month ago, I actually spent about two weeks in the U.K. mixing the new album. We also went to Switzerland, Germany, Spain and throughout the U.S. I mean I just hit another 100,000 miles on my American Airlines card hahaha…
P. Sunkel: Thats actually pretty amazing, how many do you think you’ve racked up over the years?
Eddie: I think its been about eight years since I joined the American Airlines rewards program and I’ve definitely done over a million miles.
P. Sunkel: That is incredible…
Eddie: It’s crazy… It’s a nasty carbon footprint, I am aware of that haha….