BISS List Interview with Eddie Roberts
By Staff Writer, Arya Jha
The New Mastersounds have been rocking the United States for the past 17 years. Having released over 10 albums, the band has an wide range of material to keep the night grooving. The band uses classic funk, soul, R&B, and world music as an influence to create a sound unlike any other band out there today.
The New Mastersounds will be performing two nights at the Independent, February 18 & 19th. Friday night is sold out, however Thursday night is still available, for now. Tickets are available here.
BISS list had the chance to speak with the one and only Eddie Roberts, Guitarist of the New Mastersounds, as he heads back out onto the road to join San Francisco for a two night run at the Independent, on February 18th and 19th. Eddie cheerfully discusses the New Mastersound's upcoming album, his new home in Denver, upcoming projects, his busiest year yet, and how much he misses San Francisco!
BISSList: Congratulations on finishing your biggest tour to date! Thirty Two dates for the Made for Pleasure album tour is a huge accomplishment. You started the tour with two nights in San Francisco, went all across the country, and after finishing a Colorado run, you're on your way back for two more nights at The Independent!
Eddie Roberts: Yeah that's right that was a long one.
BL: I see that, how are you feeling? Are you more or less inspired after being on the road for so long? You still have spring dates, a European tour and summer festival tour coming up!
ER: Yea its definitely picking up I think this year is gonna be our busiest year yet. What's really nice right now is that we finally have a crew and a proper tour and great manager, we bring our own back line with us most of the time, we're traveling in a bus. It's just a lot easier than it used to be when it was just the four of us driving a mini van around the country. Even though we're doing more dates and things, the whole kind of infrastructure is just much better, so its a lot easier and a lot more of a relaxing way to do it.
BL: How was going to the previously unexplored cities during the Made For Pleasure tour? The band has never performed in the Texan cities, or the Gulf Shore cities until this tour. What was the reaction of the audiences down there?
ER: Yea I was actually quite surprised with Texas! I really enjoyed every show that we've played there. I mean We've have played Austin before. After Jam Cruise, we played two nights in Austin. In fact I was walking down 6th street/main street where the club was, and I saw a big commotion down there, there were people in the street, and I said 'I wonder what is going on down there' and as I go up to it, I realized that it was a line for our show! I wasn't expecting it, I was like 'Whats going on!?' so that was great. We just sold out two nights at Cervantes in Denver too, eleven hundred people you know. Dallas actually was also a surprise, I wasn't expecting much from Dallas, I've never even flown through Dallas. Yeah, we had great show there, we have great fans there, so all in all its been good. There hasn't been a rough one on the calendar for awhile.
BL: I see that March 11 to March 20 you are going back to Europe. What is going home like now that you've developed this Americanized style through playing in the states for the last decade plus? You have these long, 4 plus hour sets, compared to the European standard of a 70 minute set. What is the reaction from the European crowd to the Americanized style you now perform, considering the New Mastersounds hail from the UK?
ER: Yea, I mean they really love it actually, and I was kind of skeptical, we have changed so much because we've toured in America so much. We have changed into, like you said, these long sets. The Europeans have really responded well to it. They don't have the same infrastructure that we do in America, were a bit spoiled with the clubs, with the back lines and the green rooms; the kind of standard in America. It can be a hit or miss in some European venues and sometimes I'm playing through some string amp that an 11 year old child would have in their bedroom, and that can be a little bit weird, but you know its always a blessing to go back to Europe. I'm actually making a little vacation around the Madrid date, as I don't get back that often now, so when I'm in the UK I take the opportunity to go see family and things like that.
BL: Do you have a growing fan base in the UK, or is it kind of all focused in the U.S. at this point?
ER: It seems like it's never really grown, a certain amount of people always come to our shows in Europe. In America you play a city, and you go back and you play a bigger venue, and then you go back and you play an even bigger venue. The crowd is always growing. In Europe it seems like it's always the same venue, the same amount of people, it never seems to grow, which is strange. It was strange when we first came to America, because we weren't expecting the cities to grow, or the audience to grow, so that was kind of a surprise to us, and really was the main reason why we started touring in the United States. Oh, wow this actually works!
BL: Well, we are grateful to have you over here, undeniably. While you're on the road for such extensive periods of time, how do you keep things fresh? What is a muse for you, musically?
ER: The thing is this is our 17th year now, 10 studio albums, we've got a lot of repertoire. We've been taking the horns with us lately, Mike Olmos and Daniel Casares from San Francisco. They've been on the road with us for the whole run, and part of the run last fall. It's great having them because we can bring a lot of new tunes into the set, and that keeps it fresh for sure. They'll be at the independent shows.
BL: The collaborations are definitely one of my favorite parts of what the New Mastersounds have been doing for the last decade. Even looking back, I was listening to one of your earliest albums, Keb Darr presents the New Mastersounds (2001). I have to ask, would you ever consider, now that you have done collaborations with so many horn players, soul singers, percussionists etc. would you be interested in going back to your roots and collaborating with a DJ?
ER: Well that album we didn't really collaborate. He was in the studio telling us to play everything faster, 'just like that but faster'. He kind of helped us develop the sound a bit, and also he had such a following in Japan, and it launched us quickly. He was a good friend and a big fan, and wanted to help us get our foot in. I've done a few things with DJ logic, I've done a couple of shows in Colorado with him. I like working with a DJ, I like the perspective that they bring. They're not thinking of things in mathematical music, they're thinking of sound, very dance-hall and things like that, which is kind of where we come from anyways. So I'd like to do those collaborations, nothing yet, as we haven't found the right person to do that with.
BL: Made For Pleasure was your first time working with the Royal Potato Family. I see you have a new album due in Spring 2016. Is that also on Royal potato Family?
ER: Yes, yes it is. That was basically at the end of the last fall tour. We went into the studio for one day in Nashville, we had a small studio audience. We recorded an album straight onto tape, and then mixed is straight down from tape onto vinyl. It was a completely analog process, kind of old school low fi, you know, just to capture us at the end of a 6 week tour, and you know, capture some of the arrangements our classic tunes have taken. So that was the idea of that, get vinyl out because we don't have any vinyl.
BL: Have you ever recorded with a small studio audience like that before?
ER: No that was the first time, it was about 25-30 people, as many as we could fit in the studio really....it was really fun.
BL: Did it influence the sound of the recording at all?
ER: It made it a performance, it has that very live feel about it. Even the nature of the recording, there are no over dubs, there are no different takes. We did it like a gig really, like a show. It's captured very live, it's definitely not polished.
BL: Well that makes sense....
ER: It has a nice energy to it.
BL: Exactly, the New Mastersounds' fan base, they live for the live show, that is where you're best for all of us. I'm sure it will be a phenomenal album! Are you still doing all of the production, or have you been relinquishing control now that you are so busy with everything?
ER: No, I'm still doing the production. I spent that afternoon getting the sounds how I wanted them in the studio, so it was all mixed before it was recorded.
BL: I see you are in Denver now, and I'm looking at all of these beautiful collaborations that you've partaking in there. You've lived in San Francisco, you've lived in New Orleans, how would you compare working as a musician within these three cities? How has Denver been? The music scene there has been growing so rapidly!
ER: Yea, I've been in Denver for a year now, I moved here in January 2015. It's a really exciting place right now. Two Hundred Thousand people moved to the state last year. The demographic of these people are between 25 and 35 years old, and they're all going out to shows every night of the week, which is great. It's an exciting place to be for that reason. Also geographically, it's great, people are always coming through Denver. It's 2.5 hours to San Francisco, same to New Orleans, same to New York. Its a central hub. There is so much going on. Obviously the whole weed industry, a lot of the money from the weed industry is going into the venues, the restaurants, the festivals.
Its a good time to be there .
BL: That's a great way to put that, it is a good time to be there.
ER: I do miss San Francisco though!
BL: We in San Francisco are so grateful for you, always have been, we appreciate all the late nights you do with us, we appreciate The Payback. We are really looking forward to having you here for a couple nights. I wanted to know if you had any last words about how you're feeling about coming back home to us tomorrow!
ER: I'm really excited to be back, I hope I can manage to get out on the bay, go sailing on the bay. I'm excited to be back at the Independent, it's been a while since we played there. We'd been playing the Great American, since I was living right by there, so it was a natural choice for me. I do love playing the Independent, so I'm excited for the two night run. I realize I've been away for awhile, I miss San Francisco. Oh no, I used to live here why did I move! I just need to visit more often. I can still have my fun in San Francisco.
BL: Do you have anything for San Francisco Payback coming up?
ER: We're working on some things at the minute, we might actually do some things in Oakland. There is a project happening in East Oakland, that I have meetings with when I come in tomorrow.
BL: I truly appreciate it, on behalf of BISS List, we are truly looking forward to the two night run at the Independent!
ER: I'm really looking forward to it!!
The New Mastersounds will be performing two nights at the Independent, February 18 & 19th. Friday night is sold out, however Thursday night is still available, for now. The very funky NOLA based Earphunk is opening. Show starts at 9 pm, Doors are at 8 pm. Tickets are available here.