Q & A with The Black Seeds


To celebrate the release of their new album Fabric, The Black Seeds have announced an Australian Album Release Tour...

With their brand new, third single 'Back To You' just released to the world, today The Black Seeds can officially announce what we've all been waiting for... This November, the almighty 8-piece will be bringing it to Solbar onboard their nationwide Australian album tour.

And we got to catch up with them for a quick chit chat about the new album and the tour...

G’day lads!  Firstly, nicely done with the new album, ‘Fabric’… sooooo good. It’s been going off on the charts, too! #3 on Billboard Reggae Charts AND the ARIA Jazz & Blues Charts, plus #4 on the album charts back home.  Was that a bit of a surprise as to how well it was received, not so much in NZ, but in particular in the States?

We were surprised and very happy to make it to #3 on the Billboard charts. To be among some great artist such as Damian Marley and Morgan Heritage. We have toured america quite a few times over our career and gained a solid fan base. Keeping up our presence in the US is important and we find that we are quite a unique diverse band within the reggae genre as we expand our interpretation of reggae / funk / soul etc.

There was a pretty big gap between ‘Fabric’ and previous release ‘Dust & Dirt’ (not including the Specials album with the remixes).  Was there a particular reason for the 5 year wait?

About two or so years ago we were halfway through our 6th album. Then sadly two band members Tim Jaray on bass and guitarist Mike August left the band. Tim focussed on family and running his own business and Mike to follow his solo career as ‘Lord Echo’

I think we took a year off from recording and touring. The remaining members found part-time and full-time work but always held onto the passion for continuing The Black Seeds. Ned Ngatae has been our touring guitarist for the last five years and was an obvious choice to fill the role of lead guitarist. Ned also plays keys, sings and has a good knowledge of musical theory. Ned also knew a great bass player, Francis Harawira. Francis is one of those bass players who is so understated in his personality and bass playing but is flawless with his approach to his art. Both of these guys have fitted into the band seamlessly. We are grateful to be still pursuing The Black Seeds ethos.

‘Fabric’ is very diverse, stretching from the roots/reggae feel of ‘Better Days’, then to some 70s funky disco in ‘Freakin’ and ‘The Weaver’, into dancehall-meets-chillout with ‘Lightning Strikes’ , plus my personal favourite, the quirky ‘Ride On’.  It’s almost like the lot of you got together and had a massive vinyl party, and picked out your influences from that to make this album.  What did influence the sounds of ‘Fabric’?

We really only had said to each other that we wanted to make an album that would have tracks off it that would be played in clubs. You start jamming together and apart and writing and take its own shape with so many members writing and contributing. We made a plan to demo all these ideas in Palmerston North, a small town in the central north island. We had limited time to work on the demos because of different commitment, day jobs, families and geographical complexities etc. So over a period of four to five weekends we threw all our individual ideas into a small music studio at UCOL (tertiary institute) where our keyboard player Nigel Patterson is a musical lecturer. He scored us a great deal so with that limited time we each recorded thirty or more demos for the album. There are six core members of The Black Seeds all with different and diverse influences. We compromise and don't compromise, influence each other and ultimately at the end of the day we wanted an album that we all enjoyed and could still party to.

You completed a pretty big tour of the US and Canada a few months ago… how was that?  Any particular shows standing out?

We really do enjoy touring the US we don’t get to go back there as often as we like. We always get a great response from the North American audiences. Vancouver was one of our stand out shows which was part of the Victoria Ska fest, who have been great supporters of The Black Seeds. 

And now you’re about to do a decent-sized tour of Australia.  The last time I saw you play was around this time last year at Caloundra Music Festival.  This time around, we get a more intimate show from you at Solbar. Do you feel with the headline shows, you get to experiment or jam a little more/try a few different things out, compared to the festival circuit?

Being an album release tour and recently releasing it in New Zealand we have been able to critique our set list to showcase songs off fabrique and our back catalogue. I guess when you are doing your own show and not a festival and in a smaller venue you get a more intimate vibe. 

And lastly, the clip to ‘Back to You’ is classic! It reminds me a bit of U2’s ‘Numb’.  How the hell were you all able to keep straight faces during the filming?

Numb was an influence for the video which was shot on a limited budget with time restraints. The video shoot needed to be easy for the band and crew.  I’m not a music video director and knew I needed to  a solid idea to reference to our young eighteen year old video director, Connor Pritchard. Numb was a good reference so Connor would have a good visual dea how to show what the band  looked  now, new lineup, song and album. It had to be simple, funny and visually stimulating and not taken too seriously. It was the easiest video to shoot. It was hard to keep a straight face but again with limited time to shoot the video in one day we had to all keep our poker-facers on. 

Chur, guys! Have an awesome tour. Loving the album. And we’ll see you at Solbar on November 1st.

Catch The Black Seeds at Solbar on November 1st, or if you miss them there, catch them at The Triffid in Brisbane on November 2nd (with Bearfoot), or on November 3rd at Brunswick Heads Hotel (with The Lyrical).