Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Mamas Gun: Year Of The Gun

Mamas Gun
Mamas Gun Mamas Gun Mamas Gun Mamas Gun

“I can't speak for what it was before (I joined the band) but I can say that being part of this team right now is really exciting and there's a lot of trust and honesty towards everybody in the band. I think that's a great balance for making creative decisions. When there's a friendship, which sadly a lot of bands do lack, and people can be honest within a group the creativity flourishes” Drummer Chris Boot begins, talking about the current creative chemistry between UK soul five-piece Mamas Gun. Formed in 2007 by lead singer Andy Platts, the band became known for their eclectic mix of nostalgic R&B, funk, and rock with singles like “Pots Of Gold” and “Red Cassette”. Now returning with their fourth studio album, “Golden Days” it's clear that the band are tighter than ever before. “We're all kind of swimming like a shoal of fish in the same direction” Andy continues “(Having) that sense of brotherhood where the social aspect is equal to the professional desires, it makes for a real hotbed of creativity”.

The aforementioned “hotbed of creativity” that would ultimately become the album “Golden Days” may have also nudged the band into grasping the production reins for the first time. Of the band's newfound autonomy Platts says “having done three records previously where we started off with this soulful, honest kind of record that was very vintage in its sound. But we're quite musically restless and we wanted to try things and we ended up trying to be all things to all men. I think with our last record “Cheap Hotel”, (there were numerous styles) and that made it sound like a compilation more than an album. Having the confidence in knowing what we wanted and knowing that we wanted to make an album that you could just leave to play...that sounded like we never left the studio. But its got sufficient variety in its sound but it (also) still very much sounds like one consolidated thing”.

Releasing music independently through their own label Candelion since their 2009 debut “Routes To Riches”, Mamas Gun created their own diverse yet distinctly soulful sound. Subsequent releases including “Cheap Hotel” and the intricately arranged “The Life And Soul” only solidified MG's reputation as a band to watch. However, like most long-established bands, Mamas Gun has invariably seen some lineup changes through the years. On the intangible group dynamic of Mamas Gun, Boot shares, “There's certain skill sets we have between us. Myself and Andy produce music and we're both engineers. Dave (Oliver) and Terry (Lewis) and Cam (Cameron Dawson) are just so musically adept and in tune with what we're doing and have the ability to reference so many different things” Platts continues, “being 100% independent on every level of what we do is very important to us. It affords us the opportunity to (make our own choices) It becomes more about the relationship with people and not a blind empire that your working with. Obviously having the money of working with a major label would be brilliant! (Laughs) but we'll take what we've got any day”.

An international band in the truest sense Mamas Gun have broken in many territories worldwide, including the much sought after and very lucrative Asian market. On the cusp of their performance at a jazz festival in Seoul, South Korea, the boys offer a theory about their success in the region.”I think there's something in how uplifting (the music is) and the shameless positivity of the music that connects” Platts begins. “I don't think we've ever been a band that postured themselves to be part of ‘a scene’ or to be cool necessarily and maybe that really shines through. There's an openness in Asia with the live music scene that perhaps isn't there in Europe”. Boot chimes in adding, “I can't really explain it but I'm happy (about it). (Touring Asia) is just the best thing ever!”

With his wife Jodie as a frequent songwriting collaborator, Platts explains how the creative partnership has influenced their relationship “I've been working with my wife for a long time. She used to be an artist, signed to Sony in the early naughties. Personally and musically, there's is nothing we can't say to each other. If we think something's shit we'll tell each other, which means we can get stuff done quicker and more honestly. But for the most part, we're incredibly in tune with each other”.

Going back to their roots, Boot and Platts talk pre-MG. On their individual musical origins, Boot begins, “I started with more of a rock background. I picked up the drums when I was thirteen or fourteen. I've only really been a drummer but in the last six years I've been picking up other instruments. Eventually, I went from rock to hip-hop, jazz, soul, and funk. I matured as a musician so my record collection has everything ambient to world music jazz and acoustic folk”. Meanwhile, Platts, a former student of Paul McCartney's exclusive music institute, LIPA, says “I started playing the piano by ear at age seven…then I took up guitar at twelve or thirteen. I used to make fake radio shows on my radio in my room and the show needed a jingle so I started writing my own jingles and I got into songwriting that way. Musically, I was born and bred on The Beatles, Queen, Elton John. I got into soul at around thirteen with Stevie Wonder, Sly And The Family Stone, Prince, Scott Walker and Joni Mitchell”.

Searching their minds for their individual earliest musical memories yields some interesting results with Platts sharing “It would be grandparents vinyl player and the record was Hot Chocolate “I Believe In Miracles”(laughs)” Boot adds “(For me) It was “You've Come A Long Way Baby” by Fatboy Slim and “Fat Of The Land” by the Prodigy, which is pretty random”.

Single “You Make My Life A Better Place” and album “Golden Days” are both out on Candelion.

You can catch Mamas Gun in action at The Jam House, Birmingham on June 21st, The Deaf Institute, Manchester on June 22nd and a week later at the Rialto Theatre, Brighton on the 28th and London’s Omeara on the 29th.

You can read more from our exclusive interview with soul sensation Leon Bridges, including his thoughts on meeting his lifelong idols, being nominated for a Grammy, playing for the president, acting in Hollywood movies and his views on his own musical style in the current issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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Words Karen Lawler

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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