To celebrate their eighth studio album, Night Time People The Bamboos are going out on the road for first national tour for over three years. Lead by guitarist Lance Feguson and featuring the incredible vocals of Kylie Auldist, the nine piece powerhouse have long been recognised worldwide as one of the greatest modern soul-funk acts. Blending the horn heavy sound of early soul-funk with a modern songwriting approach they’ve managed to create music that’s truly timeless.
The insanely catchy first single from the new album Lit Up is destined to become a new crowd favourite, up there with I Got Burned, King Of The Rodeo, On The Sly. Night Time People is the first album by The Bamboos since the world fell in love with Auldists vocal and Fergusons distinctive guitar riff used in the global hit single This Girl by Kungs Vs Cookin On 3 Burners, proving that the world was craving pop music with genuine soul. I spoke to Lance Ferguson about making this album and their upcoming show in Adelaide.
It must be a really exciting week leading up to the album coming out?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean there’s a real gestation period between when you deliver an album and then when it actually comes out. So, we’ve been waiting, I reckon we’ve been waiting like a year for this to come out. So, it’s very exciting indeed.
Is that hard as an artist managing that limbo phase as you mention your album has being done for quite a while and you just want to get the songs out there, but I guess the mechanics of the industry just take a little bit longer to crank over?
Sometimes I look around at the artists I know and people around me it’s like they make a track, or they make an EP and then suddenly it’s out. It feels like it’s out four weeks later or something but often, more often than not, that isn’t the case. Managers, labels and everyone have to do their wheeling and dealing and doing so it can take a little while. I guess from the artists perspectives at one point you felt really excited when you first started writing the songs and you just want people to hopefully feel that too when they hear the songs. So it’s more a general impatience I guess but when you put all your heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears into an album, you just really want to share that with people.
Is there a sense of relief now that it’s done and there’s nothing else that you can do to it now?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, once it is mixed and mastered you could open Pandora’s box and go back but it’s pretty unlikely that you would do that. In some ways it’s a relief. I feel like in some ways that long gestation period I was talking about, in some ways actually has some positives to it because we’ve been living with the album for a long time and you can reflect on it a bit. When it does come time to talk to good people such as yourself, you can be, not that there’s any objectivity in this game, but you can be slightly more objective about it because you have had that time to live with it. On a musical level, I mean, we’ve been playing these songs and dropping them into our set for the last six months. We’re pretty familiar with the stuff. Even as I talk to you now I realise there are positives in that whole thing.
Being a nine-piece is that a really hard process to go to lots of ideas, lots of opinions and then trying to pull all that together? Is that a little bit of a challenge as well?
It can be. If anything, I’m adding more chefs into the kitchen. We added a ninth member this year so we’re actually expanding, not shrinking. I think one of the great things about this Night Time People album we’re putting out is that there was more collaboration going on right from the inception of the writing process upwards. In some ways I know what you’re saying about lots of minds making things potentially more difficult and confusing but conversely, when I start writing these albums it’s so solitary I’m here by myself in my studio where I’m sitting right now. I can get to a point, and always do, where I’m tearing me hair out where I need that interaction with everyone else. If anything, I’m craving the interaction and the opinions and the feelings of other people because sometimes that can really make decision making quicker in the creative process.
Do you feel challenged with this album compared to some of the others that you’ve done previously?
For me every album is a challenge. Every time we come to make an album it’s a challenge because I never want to make the same album. I will always want to make a better album. It’s always an internal goal or a thing aiming to just up the ante each time or set the bar higher in terms of where it can go. That’s all in an internal thing. Whether it actually comes out sounding better, different, etc., etc. is for the listener to decide. I guess that that stuff is going on in my head so that makes everything a challenge because I’m trying to make everything better every time from my perspective and the perspective of everyone in the band.
What was your reaction when you played it back for the very first time?
I’ve been living with these mixes and the masters for quite a while but there’s something different when you get the actual physical, commercially prepared product. This week I got the vinyl delivered to the door and so there was this great sort of unboxing ceremony which we like to do, which is kind of fun. Even though I’ve been living with the music, hearing the mixes off and on for the last year or so, when you actually do put the needle to the record or turn on the CD in the car or whatever, you go now it’s actually real. It feels like a tangible, physical item and yes the album is a real thing. So, yeah, very exciting.
Yeah, how was it collaborating with Urthboy on Broken?
Urthboy’s such a local legend. All his involvement with various causes, social issues that he’s got behind has been inspirational but also, musically he’s got such a history. Everything with The Herd, everything he’s done with his label Elefant Traks is incredible. He was the first choice to work on this project because I knew he would really get it and get behind it and I think he’s an absolute legend and such an all-around nice guy too.
Do you think the message behind Broken would end up being as powerful as it comes across?
The music came, there is whole talk about how concepts behind musical art, or whatever, when you look at a painting do you need to necessarily know the concept behind it, about how it was made and all that stuff. In some ways, I often say no. I think you should be able to enjoy or just experience something without some big back story. I think it’s, in a lot of ways, it’s like that with music for me but this was a piece of music that emanated from an idea and a concept which was about the whole thing about raising awareness within the world of mental illness and emotional well-being. Just the concept of asking for help is okay. I mean that’s the core message of this stuff.
We went out to three different collaborators for this song and tried something different by actually having three different versions of the song. When you go to these artists and you make your choices based on the things I was talking about with Urthboy where I felt like he was definitely the right person to do it in this country. At the same time you’re going, you hope that people will throw themselves into it. All three of these artists absolutely did and really just came back with very raw and I think their own personal takes on it, they really opened themselves up is what I’m trying to say. I think especially around these things, that’s the very essence of what we’re talking about. So I’m glad that they came on board and opened themselves up personally by telling their own tales. I couldn’t be happier with what everyone did.
Do you think you’ll do more collaborations like this, whether it’s the next album or EP or whatever you decide to release, is the future for The Bamboos music?
I guess collaboration has been pretty big for us throughout all these albums. Medicine Man was probably the most collaborative and we had five or six different artists on that. I’ve always involved singers on our tracks. If anything this album, apart from that song, which is a big collaboration, but the rest of the album it was actually a conscious decision not to feature a whole bunch of guest vocalist and really feature Kylie Auldist, our lead singer and make her the shining light, vocally, across this because as I said previously, there were a lot of collaborators on our albums and at times, even though that was great fun for me in the studio, I think at times that sent out a mixed message about who actually is the singer in The Bamboos.I really wanted to make that loud and clear on this record that the lead singer of The Bamboos is Kylie Auldist.
Do think that there’d be another album with Tim Rogers at some point in the future or is that something that’s been done and move on?
I’ll never say never. We had such a blast initially doing that song I Got Burned and then during the album. The tour was such a rollicking adventure as well. I would collaborate again with Tim in a heartbeat. I really had a great time doing that. There is nothing planned in that regard but yeah, I would never rule anything like that out.
Are you looking forward to this tour? Must be just great just to get out there and play these songs.
Yeah. even with a local tour, I’m always just trying to raise the bar in some way. Earlier we had the opportunity to support Robbie Williams for about half a dozen of his shows around Australia. Just witnessing that level production and stuff, which is you know, we certainly don’t have the budgets to be doing what Robbie Williams does. I make clear. We just really want to come out with something special this time in terms of the whole experience visually and obviously, sonically but we’re going to put a killer show together that hopefully will be the most exciting we’ve done yet. So we’re really amped up about that.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch The Bamboos at The Gov on Saturday 18 August. Tickets at OzTix.