The New Mastersounds, Quantic

The New Mastersounds

For their landmark tenth studio album, The New Mastersounds trace the New Orleans side of their funky family tree back to their roots. Made for Pleasure, due out October 2, 2015 from revered independent label, Royal Potato Family, was recorded at The Living Room, a converted wood-frame church directly across the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans. The British foursome’s latest collection of infectious grooves is steeped in those storied waters and the rich musical history they’ve carried.

For the occasion, The New Mastersounds – guitarist Eddie Roberts, drummer Simon Allen, bassist Pete Shand, and keyboardist Joe Tatton – invited several guests to join them in the studio. Longtime compatriot Mike Dillon recorded with the band for the first time, while former American Idol semi-finalist and Native American activist Charly Lowry leant her powerfully soulful vocals to three tracks. Tenor saxophonist Joe Cohen and trumpeter Mike Olmos, both members of Roberts’ Stateside band, the West Coast Sounds, also joined the sessions. A late addition was Denver-based reggae singer Spellbinder, who added his distinctive vocals to an unexpected cover of Iggy Azalea’s hit “Fancy.”

The title Made for Pleasure – which is taken from the organ-driven, Meters-influenced opening track – captures both the band’s guiding mantra and the raucously seedy underbelly of the Big Easy. “That’s very much the ethos of the band,” Roberts explains. “We make music for our own pleasure and for other people’s pleasure. It’s about sharing energy with an audience, whether it be live or listening at home.”

That energy was in flux when the band reunited in the studio for a week last January. Roberts, usually the Mastersounds’ chief songwriter and musical director, found himself suffering an unusual bout of writer’s block. Far from resulting in a less-inspired album, however, the affliction led to the rest of the band contributing ideas and developing them live in the studio, leading to their most collaborative effort to date.

“It was a very interesting and exciting week,” recalls Allen. “As it unfolded we wrote and developed a whole load of new things, some of them going in directions that we’ve not gone in before. It was scary initially, then exciting, and then very satisfying at the end when we realized we had a really great record.”

That collaborative spirit extended to the recording itself; The Living Room’s 3,500 square-foot space allowed all of the musicians, including the horn players, to record live together in the same space. That was especially unusual in the case of the horns, which have traditionally been overdubbed on New Mastersounds albums. “In the past the guest horns haven’t really influenced the writing process of what we’re doing,” Allen says. “But on this record they were with us while we were jamming in the studio, so grooves and tunes that might not have gone anywhere suddenly came to life because they were coming up with top-line melodies to make sense of our grooves.”

One such tune is “High & Wide,” a brisk, up-tempo tune that evokes the punchy, buoyant horn- driven funk of classic American R&B. The horns are also a key element on “Let’s Do Another,” a cinematic tune reminiscent of both Headhunters-style funk-jazz and vintage action films – an impending gunfight or car chase looms heavily over the track.

Mike Dillon also contributes vibraphone and tabla to the latter tune, one of three appearances he makes on the album. While he’s performed live with The New Mastersounds frequently over the years as their paths have crossed on the festival circuit, this is the first time their chemistry has been captured in the studio. The versatile percussionist, a member of Critters Buggin, Les Claypool’s Fancy Band and Garage A Trois, also contributes congas to the classic soul-jazz sound of “Cigar Time” (penned by Roberts during a single cigar break) and percussion to the relentlessly anthemic “Enough is Enough,” featuring Lowry’s impassioned vocals.

Roberts initially encountered Lowry during a gig with Everyone Orchestra in the vicinity of her North Carolina home. The guitarist was immediately blown away by her knockout voice and her dedication to the Native American cause. “She’s so natural and she’s got things to say,” Roberts enthuses. “She’s an amazing being and I was excited to work with her.” She also sings on “Just Gotta Run” and the upbeat, gospel-inflected “Joy.”

Spellbinder came into the picture after the recording session was completed, when Roberts happened upon him “toasting” – the reggae equivalent of hip-hop freestyling – in a Denver bar. “I loved his voice and they were very conscious lyrics,” Roberts recalls. “So I went up to him after he’d finished and asked him what he was doing on Sunday. I was going in to mix the album that weekend, so I asked him to lay some lyrics down. I hadn’t told the rest of the band, so when I finished the mixing I told them I had a surprise for them.”

The surprise was an urgent vocal performance over the top of the band’s first recorded excursion into reggae, a bold cover of “Fancy” by unlikely Australian rap sensation Iggy Azalea that had been suggested by Roberts’ 18-year-old daughter. The song follows a similar dip into pop hits on the Mastersounds’ previous album, Therapy, a cover of Bruno Mars’ “Treasure.”

The album’s other cover stems from closer to home: “Sitting On My Knees” is a dose of classic British mod psychedelia by the Dave Pike Set, which becomes a showcase for Roberts’ ferocious guitar playing. Also inspired by the homeland if “Just Gotta Run,” a nod toward the Northern Soul scene of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The New Mastersounds themselves have become as widespread as their influences since their founding nearly twenty years ago. Only Allen remains in their native city of Leeds; the band now has members living in such far-flung locales as Denver, Colorado and the Balearic Islands off the coast of Barcelona. They’ve also become collaborators with many of those influences, working with such idols and peers as Lou Donaldson, Corinne Bailey Rae, Grace Potter, Karl Denson, Melvin Sparks, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Maceo Parker, Zigaboo Modeliste, Art Neville and Ernest Ranglin.

Quantic, aka Will Holland is a British born Musician, Producer & DJ making Soul, Electronic & Latin Music saturated in the tropical soundwaves of the Carribean. Currently working from his
Sonido del Valle studio base in the highlands of Bogota, Colombia, Holland has developed a sound that bridges heritage and progression, marrying spontaneous musicianship with deep, exciting tonality. Holland is currently at work on his fourth Quantic
record, which will be his fifteenth studio album to date. The album is to feature influences from Ethiopian Jazz to Haitian Compas, Salsa Dura from his Colombian homestead to Detroit techno, with electric sub bass and beat programming, All part of Quantic's trademark sound. Holland records and mixes from his own Sonido del Valle studio where he utilises a range of vintage studio equipment, working as part sound engineer, musician and producer to procure a rich and original sound.

Worcestershire born, Will Holland began his musical career at the age of 16, encouraged by his father, a Welsh born folk musician who worked in mechanical engineering & computer
programming and his English born mother, a talented singer and folk enthusiast. By his early teens Holland had been introduced to home recording by his father and started to experiment with sequencing and programming. This, combined with a developing habit for record collecting, a household full of instruments and two older, musical sisters, it was only natural for Holland to setup a makeshift studio in the bedroom of their timber framed home
beside the river Severn. After much experimentation, Holland developed a strong repertoire, eventually attracting the attention of 'Breakin Bread Records', a London based record label through which Holland released his first 45 'We Got Soul'. It was at this point his work as a DJ began to flourish and through a visit to Brighton he was introduced to label 'Tru Thoughts'. In 2001 TT released his debut album 'The 5th Exotic' a collection of sample
based songs mined from various lunchbreak trips to record shops and the diverse selection of instruments found in the Holland household, his two sisters also featured as guests.
Shortly after the success of 'The 5th Exotic' Holland began work on the first Quantic Soul Orchestra record 'Stampede', combining live drum loops with Funk & Soul riffs to pay homage to the American Rhythm & Blues 45s spun in Quantic DJ sets. This was the era of the deep funk sound in the UK & the focus was on a raw, hard and incisive dancefloor sound. In that same year 'The Limp Twins' were born, a collaboration with Worcester based
singer Russell Porter that saw their debut album 'Tales from Beyond the Groove' also released on Tru Thoughts records.
Following this success and a closer working relationship with label Tru Thoughts, Holland moved his studio operations to Brighton, from which five more studio records flourished:
'Pushin On', 'Apricot Morning', 'Mishaps Happening', 'An Announcement to Answer' & 'I'm Thankful' with legendary US Soul Singer Spanky Wilson. Many of these records featured
fellow Brighton resident & talented soul singer Alice Russell. During this time Quantic also toured extensively as a DJ and the Quantic Soul Orchestra circulated internationally as a
twelve piece live band.

In 2005, Quantic collaborated with long time friend and NY based producer Nickodemus on Latin hit 'Mi Swing es Tropical'. The song was recorded in San Juan following an invite to Puerto Rico from Candela records and eventually receiving worldwide exposure through its use in an Itunes television advertising campaign. After a year of travelling and recording through Puerto Rico, Panama & Colombia the album 'Tropidelico' was released, a sonic adventure through Cumbia, Soul & Salsa. It was around this time that Holland upped and left for Colombia, basing himself in the western city of Cali, to explore the rich
musicianship leftover from the Salsa heyday and infuse his productions in the discotecas back alleys of one of Latin America's finest musical cities. Although drawn into Colombia
by the sound of Cumbia & Porro, Holland soon found himself in a city steeped in 'Pacifico' identity (a Afro Colombian genre hailing from Pacific coastal villages), melomanos (record collectors who preserve the sounds of Cuban, Puerto Rican & NY Salsa) and an
overwhelming wealth of studio musicians. It was here he began working with Peruvian born virtuoso pianist Alfredito Linares, Percusionist Freddy Colorado and Pacifico folklorist singer
Nidia Gongora, with whom The Combo Bárbaro was formed, Quantic Soul Orchestra drummer Malcolm Catto also featured in this group. The studio album 'Tradition in Transition' was soon released, parallel to this, Holland produced two more records 'Death of the Revolution' and 'Dog with a Rope'. Both were released by Tru Thoughts under his Dub production guise Flowering Inferno and featured Reggae rhythms combined with
Cumbia & Curulao inflections. After a pause in collaborations with singer Alice Russell, Russell travelled to Cali and embarked on a new record with Quantic, utilising the tight Sonido del Valle studio band with violinist Mike Simmonds as invited guest. Shaping an authentic, soulful and psychedelic sound, the pair released their first entire full length collobaration 'Look Around the Corner'
in 2011. In 2012 Quantic went on to produce and record 'Ondatropica', a collobative project with Bogota producer Mario Galeano aka Frente Cumbiero. Featuring a cast of more
40 musicians, the British Council funded project was received with great acclaim both in Colombia and Europe. In 2012 Ondatropica embarked on an international tour, garnering
attention at their performance during the 2012 London olympic celebrations and at New York's prestigious Lincoln Centre.
Quantic's enigmatic productions and musical expressions as Guitarist, Accordionist & Studio engineer have earned him a large international fanbase and constant engagements as a music selector, remixer & band director. Quantic's fifteenth studio record is planned for release in late 2013.


Hailing from the Crescent City, EARPHUNK has emerged as one of the premier jam acts in the Southeast. The quintet has been steadily building a rabid fan base across the United States with their brand of high-energy funk, inspired improvisation, and dynamic stage production.

EARPHUNK has performed in more than 40 cities over the past 12 months, including performances at Wakarusa Music Festival, Bear Creek Music Festival, and The Purple Hatters Ball, and sharing the stage with Galactic, Big Gigantic, Toubab Krewe, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Zoogma, Perpetual Groove, Break Science & Chali 2NA, Big Sam's Funky Nation, and Rubblebucket.


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