Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1088

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Feature

The Herbaliser: Return To The Mix

The Herbaliser @bluesandsoul.com
The Herbaliser @bluesandsoul.com Jake & Ollie - The Herbaliser @bluesandsoul.com The Herbaliser @bluesandsoul.com The Herbaliser @bluesandsoul.com

Critically lauded for their unique musical blend of hip-hop beats with widescreen soundtrack elements, seasoned London jazz/hip-hop/funk outfit The Herbaliser this month return with their eighth studio album “Bring Out The Sound” - pioneered by the cinematic strings-and-brass and acoustic guitar strumming of its hauntingly atmospheric lead-off single “Seize The Day” featuring Camden vocalist Just Jack, best known for his 2007 UK Number Two anti-pop anthem “Starz In Their Eyes”.

Indeed, marking The Herbaliser’s first release for credible UK independent BBE Records, the psychedelic-edged “Bring Out The Sound” impressively boasts vocal input from London rap legend Rodney P on both the irrepressibly head-nodding “Like Shaft” and jerky soul bounce of “Some Things, while other album highlights include the solidly chunky funk groove of the instrumental opener “Breach” plus the tuff beats and insistent hook of the languid “Over & Over” featuring Leeds College of Music-trained female vocalist Stac.

Formed in the early-Nineties by Twickenham boys Jake Wherry (who’d previously played guitar in numerous funk and rock bands) and Ollie Teeba (born Oliver Lawrence Trattles, who’d begun Djing at 15), The Herbaliser first began recording together at Wherry’s Traintrax studio collaborating with DJ Malachi, Kaidi Tatham of Bugz In The Attic and Ralph Lamb of Easy Access Orchestra. Developing a jazzy instrumental style of hip-hop (largely due to an absence of available rappers!), they would eventually pass their recordings on to (renowned London indie-label) Ninja Tune bosses Matt Black and Jonathan More of Coldcut who would sign them shortly thereafter.

Beginning their successful career at Ninja Tune with their 1995 debut LP “Remedies”, The Herbaliser would go on to release four further acclaimed albums for the label (1997’s “Blow Your Headphones”; 1999’s “Very Mercenary”; 2002’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”; 2005’s “Take London”) before moving on to Berlin’s !K7 Records for 2008’s “Same As It Never Was”, eventually releasing their seventh album “There Were Seven” in 2012 through their own label Department H. While other recording activities through the years have included releasing two albums as The Herbaliser Band (2000’s “Session One”; 2009’s “Session 2”) as well as producing artists like T Love and US female rapper /DJ Princess Superstar; while additionally delivering remixes for the likes of Raw Stylus and aforementioned English electronic music pioneers Coldcut alongside their benchmark mixes for Fabric Live and Ninja Tune. Meanwhile, live-wise through the years, The Herbaliser have consistently established for themselves a solid reputation globally as an in-demand live touring band with appearances at some of the biggest festivals on the circuit.

All of which pretty much brings us bang-up-to-date. As The Herbaliser’s core members Jake and Ollie celebrate the release of their first new album in over half-a-decade by meeting up for the first time with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis at Central London’s 15th floor restaurant/bar The Heights for a revealing in-depth interview.
Titling their new album “Bring Out The Sound”

OLLIE: “Well, we generally do instrumental records. And so, as you can imagine, to actually name a group of instrumental tracks is quite a challenge in itself. But because we’re very much into soundtracks - we’ve always loved the way when you have a music soundtrack there’s always a theme and motifs and scenes and how in a sense everything relates back to the title - in the past we’ve often come up with a theme for an album title and then come up with a series of song names that fit in with it. Which is how we’ve come up with album titles like “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, “Very Mercenary” or “Take London”. Whereas this time round we just decided we wanted to make an album full of great tunes. And because as a band onstage we are quite raucous, quite loud - we’ve got horns that blast, drums that smash - we felt “Bring Out The Sound” did have that spectacular quality to it, in that it’s just kind of like ‘POW!”!… So yeah, that was the kind of thinking behind it. In a way it’s kind of like ‘Check it out, here you go!’. And I guess it is actually the least specific title that we’ve ever used!”

How “Bring Out The Sound” compares with The Herbaliser’s previous albums

JAKE: “Well, for a start all of our previous albums have had varying degrees of sampling on them. And in doing that we’ve always embellished and enhanced the stuff we’re working with - you know, instead of doing just boring looping, we’ve always been quite creative in how we approach the sampling. Whereas the difference this time round is that for various reasons we felt obliged to not use any musical samples - or indeed any interpolations - whatsoever! So like the lead-off single “Seize The Day” started off with Ollie one night singing the melody into his phone, while some other ideas started off with me just playing a bass-line along to a click track in the studio late at night. But then having said that, the similarity between this record and our previous stuff is that it’s still been very much a case of building layers. In that you start off with one thing and then slowly add various elements to it until you get to the point where you can decide whether it should end up being a rap track or a vocal track or an instrumental. But taking that into account, I’d still say - largely because of the lack of samples - this is very much the first album that is truly 100% from the heart of Jake and Ollie. And while as a whole it does still sound like The Herbaliser there are definitely also some new elements to it in that are a lot more guitar-driven. In particular, there are a lot more fuzz/psychedelic guitars on this one than we’ve ever used on a record before.”

The album “Bring Out The Sound” is released March 10 through BBE Records

Tour dates include: Apr 21 MK11 - Milton Keynes, Apr 22 Concorde 2 - Brighton, Apr 26 The Wardrobe - Leeds, Apr 27 Village Underground - London , May 5 The Crescent - York, May 6 Òran Mór - Glasgow, May 7 The Fleece - Bristol.

The Herbaliser will also be appearing at Boomtown Fair - The Matterley Bowl, Winchester 9-12 August.

You can read more from exclusive interview The Herbaliser including, their take on working with veteran London rapper Rodney P, staying independent for over 20 years, the ups and downs of touring and their love for playing live 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 PETE LEWIS

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