The Jazz Cafe, 18/10/12
It’s Thursday 18th October at The Jazz Café in Camden and Yes Sir Boss, Bristol’s freshest 6-piece band, are celebrating the release of their long awaited and anticipated debut album Desperation State. Following their recent signing to Joss Stone’s record label, Stone’d records, the band have been touring the UK with their horn-injected mix of ska, indie and rock. I had the pleasure of interviewing band members Matt (lead vocals & guitar), Tom (trumpet, piano & vocals) and Josh (bass guitar, ukulele & vocals), where we talked influences, gigs and what the future holds for one of the countries most dynamic new bands.
Q: How did you all start out and form as a band?
Tom: We all went to uni in Devon eight years ago and we formed throughout our three years there through music courses and then moved to Bristol about 5 years ago. We thought it was all going well music wise so we thought we’d give it a go in the real world outside of our small little town in Devon.
Q: And what was it about Bristol that was so appealing?
Tom: Well it was southwest still, good vibes and a good music scene. Easy access to other good places such as London and Birmingham and it’s a really good place for music.
With a variety of musical and cultural influences Yes Sir Boss create quite a distinct and indefinable sound. An eclectic group of musicians, each with their own diverse influences and tastes – it’s no wonder the result is a charismatically unique portrayal of this.
Q: What’s the dynamic of the band? What do each of you bring musically and personality wise?
Josh: Well, everyone brings their influences, how they play and their style of playing and their personality and then they throw it all in together.
Matt: I think every one of us is quite a character, which I think definitely portrays when we’re playing live. There’s quite an equality on stage, I think everyone shines and with that the music follows.
Tom: Everyone brings their own personal taste in music and I think that comes across in what we create as a collective. There’s all sorts of weird genres criss-crossing around the tracks and we end up with a bit of reggae, a bit of ska going on, Matt might then sing a bluesy line. There’s a lot of jazzy shit going on in there!
Having signed to Joss Stone’s record label and supporting her on her most recent European tour, Yes Sir Boss reap the benefits of having friends in high places. The female soul songstress also features on their future single from the new album, Mrs.#1. The boys told us of their connection to Joss Stone and their mutual passion for music.
Josh: I went to school with her and she was mates with my brother. She knew I played lots of music and when she left school to pursue her career we stayed in touch. She’d always been keen on the band and wanted to do something with us, so when she set up the label she asked us to be on it and we did.
Q: Did you have any sort of reluctance because you’ve been friends for so long?
Josh: No, because to be honest the friendship had always been and the connection had always been about music anyway, so it kind of seemed the natural thing to happen. Without sounding too presumptuous, I knew that we would always stay friends through music because it’s difficult to stay friends through contact because she’s always so busy.
Tom: And in practice it’s not like she’s the boss, it’s all very amicable and our relationship with her when it comes to music is the same as being friends with her I think.
Following festival slots at some of the UK’s most popular festivals such as Glastonbury, Bestival and Lattitude and receiving radio play from the likes of Radio1 new music pioneer Rob Da Bank, the band are gradually getting the exposure they deserve. With ever growing support, the band discussed their experiences so far and their hopes for future recognition.
Josh: I got told by the Skunkanasie bass player once that I was a really good bass player and I nearly cuddled him…
Matt: We’ve done some gigs with Joss supporting her recently. Her band is really good; her drummer is Jay Z’s drummer! They’re all really complimentary and they talk to us on a musical level. I take that on board and feel really flattered and feel patted on the back by their positivity of what we’re doing. I think with us its baby steps because of the music we play, we’ve got a big live following and we’re an energetic band, but on the side of breaking radio it’s a bit difficult for us, so in that respect it’s still growing and any support we get I’ll be delighted with.
As mentioned previously, Yes Sir Boss’s flamboyant mix of genre defying sounds hails from a collection of personal and shared influences. However traditional these influences may be, the band still manages to find some obscure sources to be inspired by. Jack FM anyone?
Josh: I think the inspiration is that everyone wants to play music forever and enjoys the whole process of it. I’m afraid I don’t have any poetic ‘This is my inspiration…’, because it doesn’t really work like that.
Matt: It’s just what plays its course on the ear as well, for me I could dig up an old record and be like that sounds really cool and it could be just a really tiny little bit of a song and then that inspires you to kind of write a riff in that style. I source my inspiration from all over the place, and definitely get really inspired by other people’s music for sure. It would just come out of nowhere, completely pure inspiration.
Josh: In the van, which is where we’re together the most probably, we have trouble listening to that much music because we have a crap music system in there, so we end up listening to Radio 2…and JackFM.
Years in the making, the debut album from Yes Sir Boss encompasses tales of love and youth with the occasional political comment. The band revealed their experiences of recording the album and the themes and matters that sashay effortlessly throughout.
Josh: Well it’s been a long time coming this album, so a lot of the material is stuff we started a long time ago when we were at university and I think it’s got that feel about it. It’s kind of like a chapter of all of our lives I think, and it’s definitely captured that lifestyle we were living at uni and post uni – playing gigs every weekend and partying really. There’s lots of that frantic awesomeness in there.
Q: And how was the experience of recording the album?
Tom: We had a lovely time. We went to this studio in South Wales called Môn Valley and were there for 3 and a half weeks, it was an old farmhouse with a wonderful studio built in to it just outside on Monmouth and it was brilliant.
Josh: We went fishing, got pissed and made fires. It was fantastic!
Q: So some of your lyrics are politically driven, do you think this is an important aspect of your music?
Matt: I think it’s important to say how you feel and have an opinion especially right now, there’s a lot of watered down brain dead lyrics out there. Not saying that mine are amazing! I think to have an opinion is really cool, and after all music’s about freedom to express yourself, so I think it’s great. Especially if you’re trying to say something positive which someone could identify with. So yeah it makes up who we are, but we’re certainly not a political band. I’ve always been scared of writing political songs because I think they can be done so badly. I’ve written a few, especially back in the day, and I ended up writing words which had a political thing to it, so it’s kind of organic, we don’t really plan it.
Josh: We don’t just sit around watching the news and biting our nails and getting all angry about it and then write a song. It’s nothing like that at all.
Matt: We’re just individuals who give a crap and we’re not writing music to tailor it to an audience – we’re writing it for ourselves. I know the next album there will be songs with a political kind of vibe, I think they’re great and a really good topic to get your teeth in to. It’s definitely a part of us.
As the band reflect on their recent live shows and album release there’s a sense of celebration and anticipation for the future. Yes Sir Boss have already exceeded their individual expectations and they continue to welcome new achievements humbly and rapidly.
Josh: We once won the best band in Torbay award and got a trophy with a stone glued to it, which fell off as soon as we got it. And we’ve been playing at some pretty prestigious venues as well, you can’t help but be a little bit like wow we’re playing the Jazz Café tonight, or we played Shepherds Bush Empire – it’s all a bit like yeah!
Matt: The best achievement so far is the album undoubtedly.
With their ever apparent drive and positive attitude, Yes Sir Boss are certainly surpassing and avoiding the ever growing industry of chart-satisfying drivel. This is a band diverse enough to be noticed by anyone with a taste for good music and with plenty to offer, Yes Sir Boss are undoubtedly due to achieve inevitable success.
Josh: The goals keep changing. To be honest it wasn’t that long ago that I was saying one day I wanna play at Glastonbury and we have! So then you make a new goal for yourself, but personally the goal is to keep on playing music and one day sit down when I’m an old man with a record and think that’s the best thing I could have ever have done.