Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mr.T-Bone Interview

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Interview by Gabe

Tell us about what you've been up to

: First of all I want to say that I'm very happy for all that has happened to me in the past 4 years. "Mr. T-Bone Sees America" has been a great success all over the world. After that we toured all over Europe in 13 different countries, then the two commercials in the USA, then I published my fist live album called "STRICTLY LIVE", then I got married. And now the new album... what more can I ask?
And of course in this new album you can listen to the energy of this period, and as I always I tried to do the best album I can make. For the very first time I produced and mixed it by myself and I put in many things that I didn't in the past albums. The first one (That's it 2002) was a real ska-jazz album. The second (Sees America 2004) was an experiment, and we mixed some jazz with some reggae and rocksteady, a real 4 day jam.

I hear a number of influences on the new album Heroes.
Can you tell us about these influences? What was your aim with this album?

Mr.T-Bone: This new one is totally me now. You can find some funk, reggae, ska, swing, mento... all the music I love. Also, for the new songs I wanted to work better on the lyrics; I wanted to say something more. I wrote some very personal songs such as "Heroes", "Do My Best", "Take Me", "Somewhere". Then for the first time I found the right words to say what I feel about this world situation, songs like "Money", "My Cruel World Goodbye", "Excuse Me" "The President of the Republic of Bananas"...

Who is the tune President of the Republic of Bananas referring to?

: Well, unfortunately this song could be dedicated to many people. There are so many bad politicians in the world. We have Silvio Berlusconi, you have Bush, Putin, Sarcozy. Too many freaky bastards who don't care about the people but only about their damn F****'N pocket!

Can you tell us about your current backing band The Young Lions? How did you all come together?

MTB: Actually the Young Lions are not just a backing band but a real important part of the project. I heard most of them playing in my town (Turin) with another band and I loved them immediately. I was working on some new tunes and they sounded perfect for what I had in my mind. So we started to rehearse and play live, we toured for 2 years all over Europe playing the new songs, and then we recorded this new album in 3 days!!!

Playing music starting at such a young age and for so long, what attracted you to ska and reggae?
Well, in those past 21 years I played so much music in so many different styles. I started when I was 14 following my older brother. He used to play saxophone and many other instruments and I was always with him so day by day I started to play with all the bands he was playing with: funk, soul, blues... Then I fell in love with the early jazz, and from there, the step to the ska music is very short. Don Drummond played in the same way as Kid Ory did (the best trombone player for that music in the early 1900), Tommy McCook has been influenced by Lester Young... so I found in the ska music many things that I already knew, so I felt very confortable playing it and day by day I became addicted to the ska!

How would you describe the way Italians approach ska and reggae music? What is the scene like? Any bands you would recommend?

MTB: The Italian people are strange. I don't know if you know who our Prime Minister is now. Well, you too are still in dangerous hands. Anyway, the people love ska and reggae music, but differently for the reggae music. In Italy it is hard to find some good ska bands. It's a small circuit and closed in on itself, so it's difficult to propose bands from the rest of Europe or USA.

But now the scene is going to open up a little bit and this has been my second job for the last 2 years. So far, I have founded a cultural association called RUDEBOY CORNER and with that I have tried to call all the rudeboys in court. So now we organize shows, merchandise, DJ sets for artists from all over the world. So if I have to tell you some bands I can say La Ghenga from Pisa and the Onedroppers from Milan, for the reggae scene is totaly different, there are a lot of very good bands, some of them are very famous here in Italy, but here is the problem, the Italian bands are lazy...most of them don't really care about playing out of they keep playing in the same clubs for the same people for years and years...I did it too for a while but since i started to play all over Europe I couldn't stop to travel, meet new people and have fun!

On the album Sees America you had American musicians as your backing band. What were those recording sessions like? What differences have you noticed between the way Americans and Europeans play?

: That was a beautiful experience for everyone who was in the studio. I had the pleasure to have with me some of the best musicians in the scene, from Italy and USA, or at least my favorite musicians, hahaha. I learned a lot from all of them, and in 4 days we rehearsed and recorded the whole rhythm section and horns at the beautiful Coyote Studio in Brooklyn. Then the vocals, percussion and the mix was done at the Version City Studio by Vic Ruggiero and King Django, two giants of today's scene. We didn't have any difficulty playing together, when the tapes rolled everyone played their best!

What plans do you have for future recordings?

MTB: I'm already working on the new studio album. I can't stop, haha. I want to release it next spring. Then I'm working on some dub versions of "Sees America" and some of the new album. Dub is my last love. In the past 5 years years I've really fallen in love with it. It's a new way for me to express my music. Dub is the essence of groove.

Any last words?

MTB: The new album is available now in Europe on my own label (Rudeboy Corner) and soon it will be available in the USA too. And icing on the cake, a "Best of Mr. T-Bone" will be out soon in Japan. So, what more can I ask? Keep rocking guys, thanks for the support and I hope I can announce a Mr. T-Bone tour in the USA soon!!!

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