Friday, 7 May 2010

Interview and gig review from Trafficmag

Hey guys,

Trafficmag did an interview and gig review of our show at the Elbow Rooms. They said some really nice things about us and we feel that the interview really shows what we're about at the minute.

Read the whole thing here:

Anyone within Yorkshire who has their ears to the ground and a taste for good music of any genre will probably have at least heard of Extra Curricular in recent months.  The Huddersfield-based band features nine talented musicians crossing several genres including hip-hop and soul.  Fronted by well-respected MC Jack Flash and singers Ruby Wood and Thabo, they have been building a solid reputation for tear-out shows in the local area which unite fans from all backgrounds in their appreciation.

Their recent live show at the Elbow Room, Leeds proved a great opportunity to sit the band down and ask them a few questions before the night’s entertainment commenced.  The interview was with the three vocalists but also present were bassist Jack Button, drummer Noah Burton, guitarist Martin Chung, sax player John Waugh, Greg Nicholas on the horns and DJ Illas.

Tell us a little bit about how you first came together as a band.
Jack Flash:    We’re maybe two-and-a-half years old now as a group.  We all have solo things going on, whether they’re projects, touring or whatever.  We came together as a jam band, then it progressed and grew.

It kind of nicely evolved without pressure and now we’re a full touring band. - hence the name Extra Curricular.

There are obviously a couple of different things going on in terms of genre within the band.  Would you put yourselves into any particular category or are you resistant to that?
Jack Flash:    Fuck it man, smash every boundary.

Ruby Wood:    If you put yourself in a box and say you’re just Hip-Hop, you cut yourself off from doing anything else.

Thabo:    You know, the category would be just “Good Music”.  There are only two categories of music – “Good Music” and “Bad Music”.  We’re really aiming for that “Good Music” category and so far no-one’s complained.

What would you say are your influences?
Jack Flash:    First and foremost, everyone else in the band.  The way we create music is so collaborative.  Sometimes when we do get going on a song I’m like - yeah, I’m making it with the right people, they’re taking the right directions – and that is a big influence.

Massive amounts of Hip-Hop, obviously.  We can go down the line and talk about all the classics.  I’m massively influenced as a lyricist by people like Royce Da 5’9”, El Zhi – I love the Hip-Hop that comes out of Detroit.

As to the sound of the band though – anything and everything man, honestly.

Thabo:    As long as it feels good.  Once we close the door and we start making something, it just has to... if we all leave smiling, that’s the key.  There’s nine people to please.  Once you please nine people, chances are that nine hundred people are going to be okay with it, at the very least.  Everyone here has really high standards musically.

At the beginning, people used to say we were a Roots type of thing but it’s not even that any more.

Jack Flash:    Every band that’s doing anything Hip-Hop oriented, people are going to them “Oh, you’re like The Roots”.  What they mean is – that’s Hip-Hop with a band.  Musically, for me, we’re closer to Jamiroquai than the Roots.  It’s Hip-Hop attitude and Hip-Hop style though so I understand the comparison.

Ruby Wood:    It’s an education for us all.  I come from jazz music and soul so it’s an education for me – I’ve been asking Flash to help me write rhymes.  Obviously Thabo is coming from soul...

Thabo:    ...and church...

Ruby Wood:    ...and church music, that educates me as well.  Our style is developing while we’re playing.

Jack Flash:    It’s so true.  The amount I’ve learnt without realising I’ve learnt it.  My first LP was purist boom-bap [‘90s-style Hip-Hop] – this has really opened me up.  The overall philosophy is, as long as it’s done with conviction and done from a real place, it’s real.

Tell me a little bit about your current release, the EC EP.
Jack Flash:    It’s a very good introduction to us...  later on down the line there’ll be more.  The last week or two we’ve been banging it out in the studio, crazy hours, working on new material.  It’s so beautiful they way we’re taking the sound and changing it.  We’ve just spent a good three days solid editing drums and bass.  The EP is definitely worth picking up though to introduce yourself to us.

Any other plans for the future – where do you see yourselves going as a band?
Jack Flash:    From strength to strength – it has to be more shows, tighter business, more fans, more people, more love, more music.

Thabo:    Closer to Jamiroquai – not sound-wise but that kind of scope - tightening up in every aspect.

Jack Flash:    We are putting a lot into the show now, as a show.  It’s more and more about creating something that is an experience.  Musically I do feel like we all have the ability to be on lock.  We make sure the songs are nicely put together and we expand – rather than being just loop-oriented, they have progression and structure.

Ruby Wood:    We meet up once a week just to e-mail, book gigs, contact managers and promoters... we’re very much DIY at the moment.  I can’t wait to be able to just perform.  I enjoy it, it’s going in the right direction but it just feels a bit hard sometimes!

Thabo:    On Thursday we were playing in Ipswich, today we’re in Leeds.  Anywhere where they’ll have us, we’ll make it happen.

Jack Flash:    The overall idea within the next eighteen months is we want an end-product – an album, out on a good label.  For me, the music’s there – now the world can catch up.
The interview completed, I stayed around for the rest of the night to watch Extra Curricular and the support act – The Mouse Outfit – do their thing.

The Mouse Outfit are breaks band from Manchester, which is to say a significant part of their set was taken up with live reinterpretations of the parts of classic soul and funk tracks sampled by hip-hop artists in the past.  The musicians and the two rappers fronting the group did a great job of creating a smoky, dirty funk vibe and struck a good balance between the aforementioned cover versions and their own material.  Indeed, on most other nights The Mouse Outfit would have been worthy headliners.

That night though, it really was all about Extra Curricular.  The Huddersfield act showed a real emotional range across the course of their set and made full use of the talent available to them.  They also notably demonstrated a strong connection with the audience, taking them up and down in mood along with the music and at one point even getting them to sit down before bringing them back to their feet for the next song.  With very few exceptions, their set was a master class in reaching across musical boundaries and drawing in listeners.
Check out more from including pictures from the gig HERE

Stay locked y'all

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