Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Lance Ferguson (The Bamboos): It's all about the funk

Lance Ferguson (The Bamboos)
Lance Ferguson (The Bamboos) Lance Ferguson & Kylie Auldist  (The Bamboos) The Bamboos @blues& The Bamboos @blues&

For those of you who don't know them (surely not that many now) Lance Ferguson and his merry cohorts,The Bamboos, are in Europe right now promoting their spanking new album "4". And rightly so, they are regarded as masters of deep funk and heavy soul. So let me enlighten you children with their story so far...

Led by guitarist Lance Ferguson (AKA Lanu), the other members include Kylie Auldist (Vocals), Danny Farrugia (Drums), Yuri Pavlinov (Bass), Anton Delecca (Tenor Saxophone/Flute), Phil Noy (Baritone Saxophone) and Ross Irwin (Trumpet).

This top draw band formed in 2001 and released the 7" single 'Eel Oil/Blackfoot', earning them international acclaim from the likes of Mr Scruff, Patrick Forge and Jazzanova. Their next release 'Tighten Up/Voodoo Doll' was signed by Kenny Dope (Masters At Work) and Keb Darge (Legendary Deep Funk) for their US based imprint Kay-Dee Records. They made their home at the UK's Tru Thoughts records in 2005.

The Bamboosâ debut album âStep it Upâ was released jointly by Tru Thoughts and Ubiquity Records (US) in 2006. The second Bamboos long-player âRawville' was released in 2007 and was described by IDJ Magazine (U.K) as " ...arguably the finest Funk album of the modern era".

Their live shows have evolved into non-stop mixtape-style throw-downs that draw the links between hip hop, soul, funk and old-school breaks, and they have performed at large scale events and festivals including Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival, Meredith Music Festival, Falls Festival, The West Coast Blues & Roots Festival, Golden Plains, Parklife, The Adelaide Festival, The St Kilda Festival, The Sydney Festival, Trop Fest, and recently headlined Melbourneâs St Kilda Festival, to a 50,000 strong crowd. They have also performed as a backing band for international artists including Eddie Bo (US), Syl Johnson (US), Joe Bataan (US), Eddie Floyd (US), Betty Harris (US), Alice Russell & The Quantic Soul Orchestra (UK).

I was lucky to catch a brief moment with Lance whilst on a fleeting UK trip. This rather suave and urbane chap really seems to have his destiny under control so I just had to ask him the following questions...

EM: How's the European tour going and how is Lance Ferguson and his fellow Bamboos?

LA: The European/U.K tour is going well and the shows have been really well received so far. Itâs great to get out and play in new places and see that people are already familiar with our music. The Bamboos are like a family so travelling is fun and we always enjoy a party after the show.

EM: How come Australia is producing such fine funk bands? You, Cookinâ On 3 Burners and Deep Street Soul are blazing a trail, what's going on? Any other bands we should look out for?

LA: Labels like Freestyle Records in the U.K and Record Kicks in Italy have recently been signing a slew of Australian Funk & Soul bands. There is a new Funk group coming up who are all high school-age kids called Cactus Channel that are doing some good stuff. I am also really into a Psych/Rock act called Tame Impala.

EM: Your latest album is very eclectic, was this a conscious decision to leave the deep funk to one side for a bit or is it the way forward for the Bamboos now?

LA: Though The Bamboos emerged from the so-called âDeep Funkâ movement it is important for me now that our music can stand up on itâs own without being firmly aligned in any one scene. As our music has become more song-based I would like to think that we can be judged on our own merits without being always simply labelled as just a âFunkâ band. The new album brings elements of Rock, Psych and Pop/Soul. Underneath this though is always the heavy drum sound that we have become known for.

EM: You seem to be on the edge of greatness and mass appeal, are you happy being under the radar or would you relish superstardom?

LA: I have never had the mentality that music has to be "underground" to be cool. I went through a period of writing and producing music that was deliberately more cerebral and challenging but now my head is in a place where I just want to try and write good songs. I think that music should always elicit an emotional response, and in the case of our live shows it also needs to be presented in an entertaining way.

We play everything from small clubs to huge outdoor festivals and nothing beats the feeling of seeing people enjoying the music, in the moment. I have seen many artists trip themselves up when they deliberately try to shoot for wide-open commercial success. If one of our songs crossed-over, then so be it â but either way we have built a strong enough following to continue doing what we are doing.

EM: Your productions are second to none, would you like to share some tips - what DAW do you use - Logic? pro tools? I was reading the Daptones used an old ampex 8 track on their last album, can you enlighten us geeks a bit!

LA: Our previous records all had the full sync-head tape sound which is cool but it can cut off some of those upper frequencies. The sound of â4â is âcleaned-upâ in some ways but it also is more detailed too. I was less concerned with re-creating a retro sound on this record and more concerned with taking all of the sonic idiosyncrasies of the band and funnelling them into something signature. I think the record has ended up sounding like something rooted in the past but with an overall sound like something released in 2010, which was always really the intention.

EM: Youâre also a DJ. What tunes would you play to get the party really started?

LA: Many different tunes for many different kinds of parties but here a few that Iâve been enjoying:

The Q Orchestra â Ritmo Diabolico
The Bamboos â Keep Me In Mind (Felons Remix)
Space Invadas â Done It Again
UNKLE â Follow Me Down
James Brown â World Of Soul

EM: If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you discuss?

Audrey Hepburn â We could just talk about the weather and Iâd still be happy.

Thanks Lance! You Can catch The Bamboos supporting Quantic @The Barbican on the 24th of June.Here is the full itinerary of the tour.

Tues 1st June â Maida Vale session, London - UK
Wed 2nd â The Farmhouse, Canterbury â UK
Thu 3rd â Metropolis, Bristol â UK
Fri 4th â Coalition, Brighton â UK
Sat 5th â Plan B, London â UK
Sun 6th â Furia Festival, Cergy â France
Tues 8th â Festival Contre-Temps, Strasbourg â France
Wed 9th â La Chapelle sur Erdre,  Nantes â France
Thur 10th â La Charade, Angers â France
Fri 11th â Kaserne, Basel â Switzerland
Sat 12th â Conne Island, Leipzig â Germany
Tue 15th â Salle Tatry, Bordeaux â France
Wed 16th â La Bellevilloise, Paris â France
Thu 17th â La Vapeur, Dijon â France
Fri 18th â Le Poste a Galene, Marseille â France
Sat 19th â Le Mas, Puget Sur Argens â France
Tue 22nd â BBC 6Music Session, Manchester â UK
Tue 22nd â Band On The Wall, Manchester â UK
Wed 23rd â Yardbird Club,  Birmingham â UK
Thurs 24th â The Barbican, London â UK
Fri 25th â Festival Au Bord De lâEau, Sierre â Switzerland
Sat 26th â Venue tbc, Berlin â Germany
Tue 29th â Nu Spirit, Bratislava â Slovakia
Words Emrys Baird

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