Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1088

Welcome to B&S

BRINGING YOU THE STORIES BEHIND MUSIC + ESSENTIAL NEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS...

Feature

Chaka Demus & Pliers: Still Floating Like A Butterfly

Chaka Demus & Pliers @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Hugh Wright Haw
Chaka Demus & Pliers @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Hugh Wright Haw Chaka Demus & Pliers @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Hugh Wright Haw Chaka Demus & Pliers @bluesandsoul.com PHOTO: Hugh Wright Haw Chaka Demus & Pliers @bluesandsoul.com

Internationally-successful Jamaican reggae/dancehall duo Chaka Demus & Pliers this month return to the UK to tour the country for the first time in ten years - the tour making the 25th Anniversary of their initial breakthrough into the UK Top Three with the single “Tease Me” while also coinciding with the release of a brand-new single “One Night Stand”. Whose insistently infectious melody and undulating midtempo groove is enhanced by its instantly catchy title-hook and sweetly soulful summer vibe.

Comprising deejay Chaka Demus (born John Taylor in Kingston, Jamaica on April 16 1963) and singer Pliers (born Everton Banner in Kingston, Jamaica on April 4 1963), Chaka Demus & Pliers began their music careers as locally-acclaimed solo artists before deciding to team up in 1991 following a show in Florida. After which Jamaican success would immediately follow with their Ossie Hibbert-produced debut single “Gal Wine” in 1992 preceding a string of independent releases which would find the newly-formed twosome working alongside numerous “name” reggae producers, including Ranking Joe, Prince Jammy and Mafia & Fluxy.

Nevertheless, it was not until 1993 that international mainstream success would arrive following the release through Island Records subsidiary Mango of the duo’s aforementioned single “Tease Me”. Which, staying on the UK charts for three months and peaking at Number Three in July, would mark the start of a four-year run of chart singles including the 1993 Number Four “She Don’t Let Nobody” and, most significantly, the 1994 UK Number One “Twist And Shout”. Whose success would prestigiously find the duo becoming the first Jamaican act to top the UK Singles Chart in eight years while also becoming the first-ever to enjoy three consecutive Top Five British hits.

Indeed, with the twosome’s album “Tease Me” (which would go on to spawn an impressive six consecutive British hit singles) significantly also topping the UK Chart in 1994 and attaining Gold certification along the way, Chaka Demus & Pliers’ UK pop chart status would also at the time prestigiously be repeated across mainland Europe, Ireland and Australasia. All of which would in 1996 lead to the release of their second album for Island, “For Every Kinda People” - before 1997 would, in turn, mark the act’s final international hit to date, the New Zealand Number 19/UK Number 51 single “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”. Since which time the duo have recorded for various labels, with some of the more significant releases over the years including the 2001 LP “Help Them Lord” (RAS) , the 2007 Jamaican hit single “Need Your Lovin’” (Explore Records) and their latest album, 2008’s “So Proud” (AGR/Universal). Meanwhile live career highs over the years have included Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash in 2004 and 2008; performing their 1994 classic “Murder She Wrote” with US R&B superstar Alicia Keys at the 2007 American Music Awards; and sharing the stage with fellow Jamaican musical icons Dawn Penn, Beenie Man and Elephant Man on the reggae segment of the BET Awards show in July 2013.

…All of which, in turn, brings us neatly back to today and the duo’s aforementioned upcoming 25th Anniversary UK tour. As a friendly and forthcoming Chaka Demus & Pliers hook up for the first time with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis from their native Jamaica for an in-depth interview.

PETE: Let’s start by discussing your upcoming 25th Anniversary UK tour

PLIERS: “Well the main reason we’re doing the tour now is we have a new single “One Night Stand” that we’re promoting, with an album to follow hopefully next year, which we’ll do another tour around. And in terms of the show itself what you can expect is an electrifying performance from Chaka Demus & Pliers, where we’ll be performing all the hits that people like - you know, “Tease Me”, “Murder She Wrote”, “She Don’t Let Nobody”, “Twist And Shout” - along with some new stuff too... So yeah, we’re definitely coming with a really good package in terms of performance, musicality, everything.”
CHAKA DEMUS: “Yeah, 25 years of Chaka Demus & Pliers is a long, long while. And what’s especially a joy is that we’re both still really happy working together. And so with it being a long time since we toured England, we’re really looking forward to seeing all our fans there again.”

PETE: So can you tell me more about the new single “One Night Stand” and what in general we can expect from the forthcoming album?

PLIERS: “Well the story behind the single goes back to when I met a girl in California while doing a show there. Basically all of a sudden I found myself falling in love with this girl but then it ended up just being a one-night-stand because I never saw her again after that! You know, we exchanged numbers but though I kept calling her I never got through to her again! So in that way, it’s a bit of a sad love song really.”
CHAKA DEMUS: “Then in terms of the album overall there’s gonna be a lotta reggae, a few love songs, some hardcore dancehall - you know, there’s gonna be a wide variety of songs and styles. And right now everybody involved in it - including the producers, the label - are all very upbeat, because there’s so many good tracks on there. Which is why, though we don’t want to choose just anybody, between now and it coming out next year we may even end up bringing some other artists on board to maybe collaborate with us on a track or two.”

PETE: Let’s go back in time and talk about your early solo careers in Jamaica

CHAKA DEMUS: “Well, mine’s a long story. I was born and bred in Waterhouse (Kingston). But though I left when I got a bit older it was actually after I moved back to Waterhouse that I started deejaying with (dub mixer/record producer) King Jammy’s Sound with (prominent late-Eighties dancehall deejay) Admiral Bailey. Then from there, we did a combination (the single “Once Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer”); it did well and became my first hit - and the rest is history! You know, if I tell you everything I’ll still be here talking to you tomorrow, man! I mean, Admiral is very lively, very funny, a very nice person; King Jammy knows his music, he’s a very good producer, a no-nonsense man... And whenever Admiral and I were working onstage together the vibe was very, very strong! It was like Chaka Demus and Admiral were running the dancehall, and everyone would be up and dancing!”
PLIERS: “I first got the name ‘Pliers’ one day when I was in the studio recording a song for a deejay in Jamaica who was like ‘You sound like (celebrated Jamaican reggae singer) Pinchers, so shouldn’t you be called Pliers?!’! You know, he was really excited about it. But because I was going by my real name at the time - which is Everton Banner - I was never really interested in being called ‘Pliers’. So when they went on and re-named me Pliers anyway, I wasn’t happy - because they did it behind my back! Like it wasn’t until the record came out that I realised they’d changed it! But because it had already been done I just went with it... And my memories of being a solo artist at the time was that it was rough. Because when we’d hit the street to find the studios and the producers and all that, we’d never have enough money to buy a drink if I was thirsty or food if I was hungry! But, you know, that was my game and so I decided to go hard and be strong and not give up. Which is how I came to do a lot of songs back then for people like (Jack) Scorpio, Harry J, King Jammy… And I’d have to say my experiences of what I went through during that time have definitely brought me to a point where I’m a stronger person for it. You know, I don’t easily fall down on my knees and cry, I always try to hold my head up.”

Chaka Demus & Pliers’ UK Tour runs from July 25 to August 05 inclusive. Venues include Leeds, The Wardrobe (July 25); Manchester, Band On The Wall (26); Glasgow, SWG3 Studio Warehouse (29); Cardiff, Tramshed (August 01); Bristol, Trinity Centre (02); and London, Subterania (03)

The single “One Night Stand” is released July 13 through VPAL Records

You can read more from our exclusive interview with reggae royals Chaka Demus & Pliers, including, how the duo met and formed their chart busting partnership and their thoughts on their international mainstream success between 1993-1997 on Island Records...all 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...

You can purchase Blues & Soul magazine at all decent magazine retailers, inc; WH Smiths, John Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and independents everywhere!

If by chance your preferred retailer does not stock Blues & Soul, just ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will order it in for you.

ESSENTIAL LINKS:

TWITTER chaka_pliers

FACEBOOK ChakaDemusAndPliers

HAVE YOUR SAY...

If you Tweet B&S and it's favourited by us at @BluesandSoul you could see your comments added to our print issue.
Words PETE LEWIS

BUY NOW
From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter