Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Heatmakers: Playing Jamaican Music in France

This week we've talked to Gluckman, vocalist with The Heatmakers who told us about the band and what its like playing Jamaican music France.

Tell us about the Heatmakers. How did you come together and what kind of music do you play?

In 2001 we gathered friends to form a band called The Parkinsonians and tried to play mostly trad ska, a little rocksteady & reggae too. We performed several gigs and recorded a few songs that were never released. The drummer got fed up and decided to quit in 2005. We kept on rehearsing with the guitarist playing drums and the trumpeter playing guitar. With only one sax remaining in the band, playing ska (a style that needs horns) became impossible so we decided to focus on the rocksteady and reggae side of things. I guess these are the styles we try to play nowadays.

Describe your approach to writing music. What influences drive your sound?

Like most "revival" bands, we try to sound as old as possible, both in terms of sound and writing (melodies, topics...). Personally, i think it's a losing game because the more we learn and the more we feel the distance with the stuff we admire.
Our influences are wide. Obviously the Jamaican music from the mid 60's to the early 70's but also R'n'B, Soul , Funk , Jazz and all sorts of old fashioned and modern sounds. We feed ourselves with that so I guess it has an influence on what we play !

Whats on your new EP? And do you plan on recording a full length album?

At the end of one gig, a friend of ours (the man called Big 5) told us he would start a label and release our music if we had some songs recorded. We rented some microphones and recorded half a dozen songs in our rehearsing room, mixed 4 of them and Big 5 did the rest (he started the Five Pleasures Records label) As we are both lazy and a little unlucky, it took us almost 2 years to finish, but our music finally made it to vinyl for the first time so we are quite proud of it.

It contains four reggae tracks, one vocal about (terrible) gambling, a western influenced instrumental, a version of a song we lost, and a cover from Caltone's Milton Boothe "I Used To Be a Fool".
We would be glad to record a LP but we feel like releasing another 45 before, that's a good way to find out if people dig your sound. In both cases we'd like to record in a real studio next time, but it's costly, so labels are welcome to give a helping hand!

Can you tell us about where your from and the music scene there?

We're from Marseille (South of France) and like other cities in France the scene suffers from the lack of venues and the lack of audience. In Marseille, there are lots of Roots/Ragga/Dancehall stuff but I don't know any other ska/rocksteady/early reggae bands here and there's only one 60's soundsystem (One Soul Soundsystem). There's a great Calypso outfit (King Selewa and His Calypsonians ) in the area and a handful of traditional Ska/Reggae bands around the whole country. Apart from the booking of genuine Jamaican legends, there's not much shows or festivals focused on the old styles. Now, you go to Germany or Spain, and you see packed venues and promoters there are not afraid to book small foreign bands because people will come! I don't know how to explain that but the fact is that France is not a music paradise!

What kind of performance do you guys put on? How does the crowd respond to your music?

Well, we don't see our shows as performance. We don't have any choreography or any special stage moves. We just try to make the music sound as good as we can, the aim is to have the crowd swinging. Sometimes we are told to move more or do this and that...but we won't cause if it's not natural then what's the point? Usually the crowd responds well, especially when drunk, even if they're not 100% into reggae I guess the other elements that helps us build our sound appeal to them.

For more info or to buy The Heatmakers new Ep visit:

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