On the heels of their new studio release, Made For Pleasure, due out October 2nd, L4LM writer Jack Sheehan sat down with New Mastersounds guitarist Eddie Roberts to talk about the band’s upcoming plans. Coordinated with the album release, NMS kicks off their fall tour on September 30th and won’t quit until November 7th, keeping the grooves pumping all night long!
With a cross-country tour and a number of high profile festival appearances, including sets at Phases of the Moon (10/16-18, Ozark, AR; full lineup here) and Suwannee Hulaween (10/30-11/1, Live Oak, FL; full lineup here), this is one band you won’t want to miss!
See what Roberts had to say about new music, recording sessions, the upcoming festivals/tour, and so much more!
L4LM: How do you like coming to the US for extended tours such as the upcoming “Made for Pleasure” Tour sponsored by Live for Live Music?
Eddie Roberts: Well, I live in the states now. I moved here 5 years ago and live in Denver. The rest of the guys live in Europe; I was tired of always having jetlag. The rest of the guys have younger kids, and my kids are older so I can do it. You know, it’s a bit rough on the body, the flying. We’ve all done over a million miles coming out here over the last ten years. But that’s what we do, and it’s been 11 years now.
L4LM: On the L4LM Made for Pleasure Tour, You’ll be all over the West coast and the Southern states. You’ve played all over the states, Europe, and Japan. What are some of those audiences like in comparison to the ‘Murican ones?
ER: Well, Japan is a very different audience. They are very attentive, if you tell them to clap they clap! Very respectful, they’re great. And they can get down too! Even if you’re playing an auditorium with seats they still get down. We’ve played Fuji rather a few times. 150,000 people and not a single piece of litter anywhere! There have been some reports of festivals making such a mess this year, we could definitely learn from that and be respectful for sure.
L4LM: True, true. People tend to not think of where litter goes. There’s not really such thing as throwing things out. Where does “out” end up?
ER: There’s a pretty crazy story about that happening in Glastonbury Festival, there was so many people pissing on the ground it actually got into the water table!
L4LM: You guys are returning to Suwannee for the Hulaween festival, how excited are you?
ER: Oh yea that’s gonna be fun, because we’ve done every Bear Creek festival there ever was. Hulaween is gonna be a different experience, but we know the park really well.
L4LM: I hear it’s a beautiful park.
ER: It’s incredible.
L4LM: You’re playing Phases of the Moon in Arkansas too, yeah?
ER: Yea, that’s right. Looks like a fun time… I need to properly check out the lineup.
L4LM: You absolutely should. There are a ton of great musicians performing! [10 Not-To-Miss Performers At Phases Of The Moon Festival] I wanted to ask you about the differences between those southern festivals later in the season and our east coast festivals that usually fall between May-August.
ER: Well, I mean, when we would do Bear Creek, sometimes it’d get so cold at night.
It could be a bit cold when you’re playing and a bit damp. It’s definitely different on your fingers, especially myself and the bass player. It’s a bit weird. You obviously can’t wear gloves! And the thing that happens these days, you used to have lights that gave you heat but now they have these LED lights there’s no heat that comes up. So you don’t even get that anymore!
L4LM: The new album, Made for Pleasure: I’m really enjoying. My favorite songs are “Pho Baby” and “Tranquilo”. It’s kind of all over the place in a good way. You have a reggae jam that teases Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”, you have the 60s Motown vibes, and on later tracks your jazz side comes out. First of all, what was going on for the band musically with songwriting and recording? Who was the producer?
ER: I do all the production; I’ve produced all the Mastersounds albums. Especially this album, it was a group written album. In the past, I’ve tended to be doing most of the writing. I was actually taking care of a lot of the business. I’ve kinda been managing the band the last couple of years, so my head was full of business.
So it was nice to have an equal contribution for everyone this time. I think the reason we end up with all these different kinds of genres is because we’re all influenced by them. All the music we played is some kind of form of dance music, be it funk, soul, jazz, reggae. The different elements come out, depending on who takes the lead. Someone will bring an idea to it, and we’ll try it. It’s a very organic thing. We always write and record at the same time.
L4LM: Not a lot of overdubs?
ER: No not a lot of overdubs. As a matter of fact, on this album we recorded a few as a 6 piece with the horns playing at the same time. And again, they were part of the writing process. So it’s a very kind of seat of the pants organic thing. I think we did it in 5 for 6 days
L4LM: Only 5 or 6 days?!
ER: Yea, so we go in fresh with nothing written and make sure that we come out with a 12-track album by the end of it! That’s the quest.
L4LM: I like your style! I didn’t realize that not only were you the producer, but you also managing the band for some time too. That’s a lot of hats to wear.
ER: Yea, yea and it definitely took its toll. And luckily we’ve got a new team around us now. Its really good, I’ve started writing again! I have room in my brain again.
L4LM: You have a serious work ethic. It’s even more fascinating and impressive when you take into account the Payback charity shows you’ve been doing, with this year’s happening at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, on September 25th and 26th. How did that concept come into fruition?
ER: Well I was living in SF for three years, 2010-2013. I was living in the Tenderloin area, which is quite a depressed part of downtown. I saw such a community there, but I also saw what was going on with the homeless situation. I witnessed people being displaced with the whole rent situation. I do all right and I was struggling to pay rent. I wanted to put something back into the community, which is where the name “payback” comes from, and obviously the James Brown reference.
L4LM: The Big Payback?
ER: Yea, although the meaning behind that song is completely different! People call it pay it forward or whatnot. I mean, a lot of music originated there. It’s a historic area. It feels pretty edgy there. There’s a huge crack problem. The first time you go you feel it’s the wrong neighborhood but after living there, I was never felt in danger or threatened, and never was. So we started doing this in 2013. I attempted it, and it wasn’t completely successful. So I got a partner on the second one and we partnered with Positive Legacy, the good people of Jam Cruise, and then it just started taking off. It’s been really great. We got this amazing Finance company, SoFi helping us present it. I see it growing considerably over the next few years. The long-term goal is to have a SF funk festival that raises money for the community, and it’s looking good.
L4LM: So it’s looking good and there will be more?
ER: Yea, we’re looking to do one in Denver too, which is where I just moved. They’re also a lot of problems and Denver. And we’ve partnered with Cervantes, a club we’ve always played at and they’re really committed to making this happen.
L4LM: That’s really cool that as an artist, you’re not sitting around, fiddling on your guitar for 20 years. You’re giving back to your community, and working for it. In the vein of James Brown, you’re working hard in show business.
ER: Well why wouldn’t you? It’s a life, it’s a vocation. You dedicate your life to this. You only got one chance.
L4LM: Well thanks so much for your time!
The New Mastersounds fall tour, presented by L4LM, kicks off Septmeber 30th! Including stops all across the country and big festival sets at Phases of the Moon in Ozark, AR from Oct 16-18 (tickets available here) and Suwannee Hulaween in Live Oak, FL from Oct 30-Nov 1 (tickets available here), this band is too funky to miss!
[Photo by Jim Mimna]