Q & A with Black Bird Hum

Sydney 9-piece reggae band Black Bird Hum will be playing Solbar in Maroochydoore onFriday 28 October.
The band has supported ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (US) , Kingfisha, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Collie Buddz (US), Six60 (NZ) and Bobby Alu and played festivals including Peats Ridge, FBi Reggae Carnival, Nimbin Mardi Grass and Manly International Jazz Festival.
Right now, they're on the home run of their 'Hot' East Coast Tour, and so we thought we'd catch up with this reggae juggernaut before they hit our area...

Hey guys! You're coming to the end of a pretty hectic line of dates on the 'Hot' East Coast Tour, which started back in August.  With the finish line in sight, looking back, what would've been some highlights?

Hey!  It has been pretty hectic.  We worked out October will be 15 gigs across three states.  That’s definitely a record for us.  As for highlights, on Saturday we supported Kingfisha at Newtown Social Club.  There was an awesome crowd in, and one of our favourite bands doing their thing after us.  We’re tagging along to their Canberra show this week too, pretty sure that’ll be a highlight.

The big one though was Arrested Development at Enmore Theatre.  Some of the younger horn players didn’t get the gravity of it all, but a few of us older guys were quietly losing our minds for the weeks leading up to it.  Our guitarist Eddie – it was the first live gig he ever went to at 15 or something.  

We had a great set and then watched them go at it.  And they were insanely good...

Obviously, congrats on the release of 'Hot' (hence the tour name). I am curious as to why you decided to do a radio edit of the track (at just under 3 minutes), instead of the full track, which runs at four minutes and 13 seconds.  I know the old rule of radio play songs are generally around the three minute mark, but it is now more excepted to have songs of a longer length? Was there a particular reason (apart from the before stated) you went with a shorter version?

Thanks!   When we went into the studio to record it was on the back of playing these songs live where we really jam stuff out.  Even that four minute version was cut down from the original take!  In the end I think we just liked the way that 3 minute version didn’t beat around the bush.  We do a lot of bush-beating if we’re being honest… 

What's the Sydney roots reggae scene like? Obviously, The Strides, King Tide, Mat McHugh and yourselves have been representing for a while, but are there certain venues and acts that are really helping push the scene down there?

It’s actually really good.  The two big nights are Sundays at Moonshine in Manly, and Thursdays at El Topo in Bondi Junction.  Manly is pretty much 400-plus people every week and I think El Topo is around 250.  And they love it.  FIbra Entertainment, who run both nights and who bought out UK legends Steel Pulse earlier in the year have really developed something good.

We play a handful of other venues as well, but those are the regulars you can count on every week for a good dose of reggae.

BBH have a pretty big roster of musicians, nine in all, and I love how in your bio you've listed six other 'conspirators'. How do they fit into the mix?  And how do you improvise when it comes to playing a venue with a smaller stage (hell, I know what it's like to try and fit a six-piece band onto a tiny stage)?

Yep it’s a lot of people, which means more fun on tour, and at shows, but it’s definitely a nightmare logistically.  That’s where the conspirators come in – they’re a bunch of awesomely talented folks who are always up for jumping up and filling in when one of us is out.  Or even if no ones out – I think we’ve squeezed 11 or 12 on stage before.  

We did a bush festival last month that had a stage on the back of a small flatbed truck.  That’s probably the smallest stage we’ve fit nine on.  There were a bunch of near misses with guitars or trombones almost taking people’s eyes out and what not, but we escaped injury free.  

Thanks for your time, guys.  I believe this is the first time you'll be heading to the Sunshine Coast, but not to fear, as we're generally a huge roots/reggae-loving family.  See you then!

Thanks for having us – and yup this’ll be the first Sunshine Coast gig so we’re pumped!  

Black Bird Hum play Solbar on October 28. You can download their latest EP, 'Hot' from iTunes now.