Former Fandangle bassist Andy B unites the Ska/Punk/Folk elite for a charity album. This release is a completely-DIY record, comprising of 172-Musicians including members of RX Bandits, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, [Spunge], Zebrahead, Hayseed Dixie, MC Lars, Suburban Legends, Death By Stereo and Call Me Malcolm. The album is a commentary on life today vocalised by combined voices from across the globe, raising money for charities that help the homeless and the disadvantaged get into music, whilst promoting ambition and unity. Andy delves into it more below touching on the charity in which it’s all for.
TF: What first got you into music?
When I was growing up, my folks would play records at the weekends, everything from Elvis Costello through to Madness, Dire Straits, all sorts, and I can’t remember a point when I didn’t not want to be in a band! I learned piano as a kid but it wasn’t until I was around 13 or 14 when I bought my first guitar and that was that! But my love for all things punky and ska will definitely come from those early days listening to records like The Clash though!
TF: What inspired you to make this album?
Well – after my time touring in bands I knew I wanted to keep putting music out there, but 100% wanted to investigate different ways to do so. I was always inspired by just how many awesome friends we’d made through touring, and was thinking many years back about how to go about making music with them all rather than starting another band. I’d been doing some charity work with hot meals and the homeless in Devon when I spent some weeks out in Australia, and when out in Melbourne one night I ended up chatting with and spending a good few hours with the homeless community behind St Pauls Cathedral right by Flinders Station, and their stories stayed with me so much that I just knew I wanted to make music that would raise money and awareness for people in their situation – hence we are raising money for Centrepoint, who deal with youth homelessness, and Music 4 All, who help everyone afford the chance to discover music-making, irrespective of their situation or background – Some people just can’t afford to. We were also really interested in helping tell their stories so that people understood when they weren’t there by choice, but that’s part of our future plans…
TF: How did you go about the gargantuan task of assembling the 170+ musicians involved in this project?
An absolutely massive amount of admin haha! For musicians that I already knew, it was just a case of reaching out to them once I had demos completed. I’d completed the original version of Black & Blue with more local musicians at the time so that we had something full to show people, but it’s such a diverse set of songs that I’m sure some people thought “eh?!’ when I first sent them a demo that I thought would suit them haha. But in terms of people I didn’t know – Just a huge amount of research into what bands were out there, bands that were friends of bands I knew, listening through compilations, and reaching out to them one by one! I stepped that up another gear when lockdown hit, where we added another 80-100 people to the project! In terms of putting the songs together, it’s been more a case of making everything match – choosing the compromises necessary to make sure the album flowed, bear in mind there are 5 very different drum kits on there, and that’s before you get into bass, anything really! But – it’s been fun and we’ve learned a lot doing it – especially completely DIY!
TF: Which musicians would you love to work with in the future?
Well, we are planning an even bigger, way more ambitious follow up that we’ll talk about in more detail down the line, but ultimately, everyone! There are a couple people I reached out to, idols you could say, which resulted in a no or just replies stopping the first time around, but one I’d LOVE to get involved would be The Cat Empire – Felix & Harry’s voices, Ollie’s keys playing… I love that band, and I feel their lyric “Music is the language of us all” is not only something I really believe in (I mean, I got it tattooed on my arm after all!) but perfectly sums up what we’re trying to do with this project, bringing musicians from as many different backgrounds together as possible. We actually had a no for this first album from their management who inadvertently called our attempt feeble (I don’t think they meant to haha) but hey, all we gotta do is step up our game the next time we contact them ay?!
TF: Do you have a favourite track or story connected to the album?
I actually really love them all, but one track I really, really love the message to is Something’s Out, which is written about mental health and anxiety. Mental Health is another area I aim to do work for both in terms of awareness and fundraising, like with the epic-bike-rides charity I run with Tobias from The Dead Betas called Most Roads Lead To, but anxiety gets me too and I think any narrative on the subject that anyone can relate to is a very good thing to have out there.
TF: What’s next for you?
After this release we have huge plans – well, we’ve actually already started! We’re working on a much more ambitious album that genuinely takes in the whole world – back to our roots in that it will all be done with travel post-covid – and I do mean all continents in that!
We’re also setting up a non-profit label where we’ll be recording homeless buskers that we meet on our travels, and releasing their music for them, with all of the money raised from it going back to them. The sounds of their streets, from Africa to Auckland, and their music, hoping to help them with their passion.