Colorado Crops, Jazzfest Madness, and Dance-Offs with Simon Allen
Words by Audra Tracy
We all need therapy sooner or later, right? The New Mastersounds know this, and that’s why they made a new record full of joyous jams to ease your aching soul. And with hip-shakers like “Old Man Noises”, “Whistle Song”, and a super-funky take on the Bruno Mars tune “Treasure”, you’ll be too busy gettin’ down to care about your daddy issues.
The four-piece from Leeds just released Therapy on April 19th before they hit up New Orleans for some legendary late-night sets at Jazzfest. They’ll be state-side through June, with local gigs at Garcia’s @ The Capitol Theatre (6/10) and a Rocks Off Cruise in NYC this June 11th.
We caught up with Simon Allen (drums) for an interview where we discuss Colorado crops, Jazzfest madness, and synchronized dance moves…
Congrats on the release of Therapy! What made you choose Colorado as the place to record your latest LP? Did you explore the state at all during your stay? Did you enjoy their newly legal crop? Was it amazing?
Simon: Colorado is a home-from-home for us – we’ve been gigging there for 9 years (our first CO gig was at Trilogy in Boulder in September 2005), plus our keyboard player Joe had already worked with Josh (Kinetix) at Scanhope Sound and had delivered a glowing report. We had a free week between playing the Brooklyn Bowl and Telluride Blues and Brews last September, we all have friends to stay with in Denver, so it was the obvious choice and we were delighted with the experience and the results. There’s a stone reggae groove on the end of “Stop This Game” which was directly inspired by the Colorado crop!
Typically bands base song titles around lyrics. Since many of your songs are instrumental, how do you go about naming them? Can you tell us the story behind the tune “WW III (and how to avoid it)”?
Simon: The day we recorded that, we were looking at reports on the congressional vote about US airstrikes on Syria, and we were quite worked up about the idea that Obama was about to lead us all into a third world war. Eddie was directly inspired by Grant Green’s “Cease the Bombing” when he approached this tune, so this is one of the more meaningful instrumental song titles. Eddie always has a good reason behind the names of his tunes. Some, like Pete’s “Old Man Noises” and Joe’s “Morning Fly” are more frivolous. The former refers to the groaning/creaking noises we all unconsciously emit when getting up out of a chair, and gleefully point out to each other. The latter refers to the annoying fly buzzing around the studio that Joe spent fruitless hours trying to neutralize on the morning we recorded his souljazz piano track.
How did you prepare for the madness at Jazzfest? What’s the craziest thing you saw in NOLA this year? How were your shows during Weekend 2?
Simon: I prepared by flying in a week before the shows and immersing myself in the late-night culture. I borrowed Eddie’s bike and cycled around between the house we rented near Tipitina’s, the venues further Uptown (Publiq, Gasa Gasa, Maple Leaf) and Frenchmen Street in the French Quarter. The craziest thing I saw was a guy at the Country Club (nude-friendly outdoor pool and bar in the Bywater) who appeared to have a pierced scrotum, but to be honest it seemed perfectly normal at the time.
The House of Blues shows on the 2nd weekend were super fun – I think we played 2:30 to 5:30am each night and we all wore our white Clockwork Orange / Sleeper outfits from the “Whistle Song” pop video.
We had Kim Dawson from Denver guesting on vocals – she performed a couple of tracks with us on the album so we thought we should invite her to Jazzfest but we didn’t know it was her first time! We also brought the West Coast horns – Joe Cohen and Mike Olmos – with us so we played a different repertoire of tunes than normal. My favourite was “Am I The Same Girl?” by Barbara Acklin. Kim sounds SWEET on that!
Which one of you would win in a dance-off, and why?
Simon: Eddie would probably say he would win hands-down, but in reality all four of us would be in with a chance depending on individual moods. I’ve seen Pete, Joe and Eddie doing synchronized dance moves at an after-party at a friend’s apartment in NYC. At Purple Hatters Ball in Florida a couple of weeks ago, Weedie Braimah and I pulled off a spontaneous routine on stage while Nicki Glaspie was sitting in on drums. I would give anything to be able to dance like Napoleon Dynamite though.
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