Interview: The Bamboos can’t wait for Twlight
Melbourne-based soul/funk eight-piece, The Bamboos, are hitting up Sydney’s Twilight at Taronga series this month. We grabbed a few words with Lance Ferguson from the band to find out more:
Hi Lance! Were you classically trained? If so in which instruments? Which artists influenced you in your younger years and now?
As a guitarist I never delved into classical music too much, but I was obsessed with Jazz and studied improvisation at The Victorian College Of The Arts back in the 90’s. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Grant Green & Wes Montgomery were massive influences on me at the time, but I was also listening heavily to James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and bands like The Meters.
You formed the band in 2000 and still lead it now. How did you go about choosing the right musicians for the job and what were you looking for?
The Bamboos are celebrating our 15th anniversary this year. We formed as a four-piece instrumental group. Back then it was myself, Ben Grayson on organ, Scott Lambie on drums and the late-great bass player Stuart Speed. I wanted to put together a band of musicians who were virtuosic but also ego-less in their commitment to not deviating from a repetitive rhythmic part within a given song.
You signed to acclaimed Brighton label Tru Thoughts in 2005. What did being signed to such a forward thinking and diverse label allow you to accomplish with your music?
We have been out of our deal with Tru Thoughts for a while now – our 2013 album ‘Fever In The Road’ was released on my own imprint Pacific Theatre Records. Tru Thoughts are a great label and they were really so instrumental in getting the band across internationally over the five studio (and one live) albums we did with them between 2005 and 2012.
Your song “I Got Burned” featuring Tim Rogers was a huge success and I understand that a full album with him is in the works. Can you tell us what you have planned for the album and why the collaboration works so well?
‘I Got Burned’ happened so quickly in the writing and recording process that Tim and I wondered what it would be like to spend some really serious time working on something. We wrote and recorded a whole record together last year and it will be coming out in the next few months. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!
Aside from Tim Rogers, you have collaborated with many great artists such as Aloe Blacc, Bobby Flynn and Daniel Merriweather. Who have you most enjoyed working with so far and why?
I have been lucky to work with some of my absolute favourite vocalists and artists with The Bamboos and my other projects. Every great singer has a really strong individual style and personality. I can’t really say that there has been one person in particular that I have most enjoyed, as each collaboration takes on its own story at the time. I certainly enjoy doing live shows with Tim as he is one of this country’s finest frontmen… And I also love hanging out in the studio with Megan Washington as she is a lyrical magician.
Which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I feel like I would really like to work with some MCs in the near future. The Bamboos have collaborated with people like Lyrics Born, TY and Ohmega Watts and the way my head is going I think I would love to work on an entire Hip Hop record.
Your latest album “Fever in the Road” has been described as a wall of sound with an amazing aural complexity. How do you manage to blend cohesively so many different layers?
John Castle who has worked on all of our albums and music since the beginning. He works out of a backyard studio in Melbourne East and has ears of gold. We worked out the other day we have done 21 albums together in The Shed Studios! John has really developed his own take on the ‘Wall of Sound’ concept. He has a vast collection of weird pawn shop guitars and keyboards that get tones you just can’t recreate. We will layer up guitars and synths and percussive textures until you cannot necessarily hear the individual instruments anymore and it just takes on this kind of elusive quality. There was so much synth on “Fever In The Road” but you cannot necessarily hear it ‘in your face’ as it sits in with the layers of live strings and organ pads. “Fever In The Road” seems to jump from the extreme of that kind of approach to some really spare and sparse sections as well.
21st February sees you headline Twilight at Taronga. What do you have planned for the show and what else do you have planned for 2015?
As mentioned we are celebrating or 15 year anniversary this year so we’ll be doing a bunch of live shows around that – maybe performing some of the early albums in full, etc. We have the brand new Tim Rogers/Bamboos album being released in the first half of the year so we’ll also do a national tour around that. It’s shaping up to be a busy year for us and we can’t wait to come up and play Taronga. Daniel Farrugia who was our drummer from 2004 to 2011 will be joining us for the show so it’s going to be like a family reunion on stage and we will definitely pull out a few tunes from his time with the band.
Grab your tickets to The Bamboos now. You can check out the following acts at Twilight at Taronga:
Saturday 7 February – YOU AM I, supported by Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders
Friday 13 February – SARAH BLASKO, supported by Luluc
Saturday 14 February – ANTHONY CALLEA presents Ladies & Gentlemen, The Songs of George Michael, supported by Caterina Torres
Friday 20 February – THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, supported by Caravãna Sun
Saturday 21 February – THE BAMBOOS, supported by Katalyst with special guests (Original beats set)
Friday 27 February – BOYS IN THE BAND – 50 years of hits!
Friday 6 March – CONOR OBERST, supported by The Felice Brothers
Saturday 7 March – RUFUS WAINWRIGHT performing The Best of Rufus Wainwright, supported by Lucy Wainwright Roche
Friday 13 March – DAN SULTAN, supported by Benny Walker and Pierce Brothers
Saturday 14 March – JAMES MORRISON BIG BAND
Friday 20 March – SOMETHING FOR KATE, supported by Jen Cloher
Saturday 21 March – ROSS WILSON and MENTAL AS ANYTHING
Interview by 25ThC