Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

The Impellers: Funk aspirations

The Impellers @bluesandsoul.com
The Impellers @bluesandsoul.com The Impellers @bluesandsoul.com The Impellers @ The Brunswick in Brighton The Impellers @ The Brunswick in Brighton

I wouldn't say I'd be too far from the mark if I called this band, the one time darlings of the 6Music Funk & Soul show... I'd also like to add that the Goliath of Funk n' Soul, Craig Charles, described them as "A cracking piece of modern funk" and even our very own Snowboy described the band as "Hard as Nails". SO ladies and gents - I give you, The Impellers.

Previously known as Ed Meme & The Forms (stop that sniggering!) came into their own with a quick name change and an appearance on the aforementioned 6Music Funk & Soul show - and such was the praise heaped from all corners on these Brighton funkateers, it's been hard to take your eye off them ever since.

Their heavy authentic style has certainly hit the spot with a choosey funk audience, and with their diary now choc-full with dates all over the U.K and europe, this surely has to be their year. So before we hear from them, I better do the introductions; 'Lady' Clair Witcher (Vocal), Ross Hansford (Drums), Alex Berry (Bass), Tony Humphries (Sax), Chris Evans-Roberts (Sax), Barry 'Impact' Lalanne (Guitar), Mark Yexley (Trumpet) & Glenn Fallows [aka Ed Meme] (Guitar, Hammond & Rhodes) Phew!! + Guests apparently!? (Great! Think I'll have a go!?). You join the interview action as Kath Newman catches up with four members of the mighty Impellers after a recent show at the The Brunswick in Brighton...

You recently performed on Craig Charles 6music radio show, how did that come about - what was it like?

Chris: It was a lot of fun actually. It was a slightly odd experience, all in one room with Craig running and jumping around - It was quite exciting! We did ok, we made a fairly good representation of ourselves and we really enjoyed it, it was such a good laugh - the whole thing was good. I think we showed a different side of ourselves, from perhaps what was on the album.

Kath: Did all of you manage to get in there ok - there's like nine of you...

Chris: [Laughs] Yeah, it was a bit of a squeeze...

Kath: Well he's obviously a fan of yours - how did Craig come to hear about you?

Chris: I got in touch with a chap called Simon, who is one of the producers, a while ago. We used to be called Ed Memn & The Forms sometime back and have since changed our name. When we were Ed Memn & The Forms, I sent a demo to Simon Hodge who produces the show, and they've sort of been monitoring our progress ever since shall we say. They were interested in what we were doing - Craig was saying that demo was sort of alright, but I now think he feels that we're getting towards the finished article... That's quite flattering, as he's someone who obviously knows what he's talking about.

Kath: Indeed he is... You have an album on Freestyle records called 'Robot Legs' - Can I ask, why is it called 'Robot Legs'?

[They all laugh...]

Glenn: Oh no!

Mark: The dreaded question!

Chris: Glenn has to answer that...

Glen: Sorry, it was my idea - It's a university related expression, that came about when I was hanging around doing my stupid useless degree in philosophy. It was an expression that we used when we're slightly worse for wear - The way one walks when one has indulged a little bit too much (I don't know what one means!?)

Kath: Who writes the songs in your band?

Mark: Glen writes the majority of the songs. I think though, we're getting to the stage now where other members of the band have started coming forward with lyrics and different tunes - we're kind of experimenting with a few more ideas now. But essentially Glen writes the majority of the tunes. Would you say that Glen?

Glenn: We have to give some credit to Graham Canyon our trombone player because he did the horn arrangements on a couple of tracks which are pretty strong. Also a chap called Don Waclosky as well, who was one of the founder members of the band and no longer in the band unfortunately. He was our bass player when we first started in a grotty little room in Eastbourne, and he was instrumental in writing a lot of the instrumentals (funny enough!)

Clair: I think because of the strength of Glen's song writing, it's bringing out a real want to write from everyone. Everyone now wants to be involved on the strength of the songs that he has written already - so its big kudos to Glen for writing such great tunes.

Kath: Sounds like he's aspiring to everybody...

Clair: Definitely, definitely.

Kath: Can you tell me what happened at Beechdown (Festival) with you guys. I heard that you were due to play before it was all cancelled - when did you find out it had been cancelled?

Chris: That was the day before - actually, two days before...

Clair: It was on the Wednesday, we were supposed to be performing on the Friday night.

Kath: That's terrible...

Chris: There were rumors knocking around Brighton for quite a some time. I think they had the right intentions and they really wanted it to go ahead - they held off as long as they could and unfortunately a lot of people got burnt by it

Kath: Any plans for a tour - maybe abroad?

Clair: We hope so, we have been in touch with a number of festivals around europe and they are very keen to have us. There's a great funk festival that's started, called the Imagina Funk in Torres, in southern Spain. It looks like it's gonna grow to be a fantastic funk festival and they are keen to get us there.

Glenn: I think that's our aim - to get into europe and get some festival dates - spread the word a bit wider.

Clair: Yeah, definitely Germany cos they're mad for the funk and soul scene, and Spain as well.

Kath: Is it a big scene there?

Mark: I think it's kind of growing, especially with people like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings appearing, who really over recent years are pushing it. There are a certain number of venues, I think, especially in the U.K which are very centered around it now. There's a few venues where these types of bands now play regularly - it's definitely a growing scene and it's certainly spreading out into the general public.

Clair: Yeah, big-up to the Yardbird in Birmingham that have supported us right form the word go, giving us a number of gigs - it's one of the best venues in the country. Just for allowing, not just established bands, but the up and coming bands to play and they are REALLY supportive and REALLY look after you - fantastic.

Kath: When will there be another album?

Glenn: Ahh yes... The problem being, cos we're gigging quite a lot and we've all got day jobs which is another hurdle to get over. There's probably about an album worth of songs written, and there's a number of people in the band coming through with some really strong stuff. It's all there, it just a case of finding the time to actually get nine people all playing the right notes in the right order (It certainly helps!)

Kath: It must be difficult...

Glenn: It's hard just to find the time - Absolutely.

Kath: Well thank you for sparing the time with me today and good luck to you all.

All: Thank you.

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: The Impellers recent album 'Robot Legs' (Freestyle).

DATES:

June 4th: 19.00 'Diggin Deep' @Ginglik in London

June 5th: 1800 Supporting the Bamboos Feat. Kylie Auldist @Plan B in London

July 8th: 20.00 Saint Paul Soul Jazz Festival @Saint-Paul-Trois- Chateaux, France.
Words Kath Newman

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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