New Mastersounds Regroup and Get Remixed

By: Tim Dwenger

The New Mastersounds
Inspired by the 70's funk and groove of Jimmy McGriff, Groove Holmes and The Meters, jazz guitarist Eddie Roberts and drummer Simon Allen have been striving for nearly ten years to hone their sound into something that moves dance floors in a way that few other instrumental bands can.

They began life as the guitar-centric Mastersounds before quickly realizing that the sultry churn of a Hammond B3 was essential to the sound they were seeking. Though the band only lasted a couple of years and recorded only one single, it laid the foundation for a longstanding musical relationship between the pair. Roberts and Allen struck out on their own and soon crossed paths with Hammond player Bob Birch and bassist Pete Shand, and The New Mastersounds were born.

Their sound is a tight mix of jazz and funk that comes to life in the hands of these talented players. While their fondness for jazz is obvious, it's the groove Shand and Allen lay down that holds the whole thing together and keeps the wheels on when Roberts stretches out.

Though they are based in Leeds, England, Roberts says the U.S. and Europe are the most promising market for the band. They've been playing club nights and gigs around the U.K. since their inception in 2000 and though things have always gone relatively well, the scene can't support them playing more than three or four times a year in the major cities. As a result, they were forced to hop the channel early on and expose music fans in Europe to their sound. It was touch and go for a while but recently things seem to be picking up a bit for The New Mastersounds.

Eddie Roberts by Yusuke Kitamura
"We are having more records released in Europe these days. There are more labels taking an interest and actually starting to license our albums for the individual countries rather than before when we were releasing them on a U.K. label and selling them on import into the different European countries, which is harder because there is nobody on the ground selling it for you," says Roberts.

The increased exposure around Europe has paid off with Italian label Record Kicks taking some serious interest in the band. Record Kicks knew that The New Mastersounds' tight funk-based sound would be perfect for the clubs if it were remixed by some of the scene's best DJs.

"They approached us saying, 'We'd like to release a remix album. How 'bout it?' We were like, 'Yeah, great.' Then they asked us if we could sort it out and we kinda turned it back on them," Roberts says. "We've tried to get remixes done in the past and it is difficult because everyone is so busy, and to pull a project like that together takes so much time and effort. It's just not our thing. We were busy making a new album and touring and everything, so we told them they could run with it and we would be happy to provide all the tracks and send them out to who ever wants to do what. They ended up pulling it together and it was relatively easy for us. I just had to dig out all the separates for every track and get them out."

It wasn't until the project was finished that Roberts got to hear the results. As chance would have it, he heard it for the first time in exactly the right setting.

"We were in France. I [had] stayed at the bar late night having a few drinks after our set and Simon had given a copy of the album to the DJ who ended up just putting it on. I was talking and all of a sudden I was like, 'I know this tune.' I didn't realize he had put the album on, so back-to-back there were all these tunes I knew and I was getting so confused," laughs Roberts. "It was really nice to hear it in the club environment, which is what it is made for, as opposed to hearing it at home for the first time. The dance floor was full and people were just going for it. They weren't batting an eyelid, and they were dancing like it was all different music. It was only really me that knew what was going on."

Continue reading for more on The New Mastersounds...

 
That's really where our sound has come from. The dance floor is already going and we have to slam it for an hour and a quarter and give them something extra compared to what the DJ is giving them.

-Eddie Roberts

 

In the U.S., the music of The New Mastersounds is largely heard only live on stage, but in other parts of the world things are different, where their music is now part of the club scene. "With all the 7-inch singles and vinyl we have put out, a lot of DJs around the world have our music. You can be in a club anywhere and all of a sudden a couple of tracks come on and you see everyone dancing," says Roberts. "That's how I learned my production sound. It was being in a club and hearing a track come on and saying, 'I wish I put more bass on that' or 'I wish I'd pressed it a bit louder.'"

Simon Allen by Yusuke Kitamura
In many ways the role of a funk band like The New Mastersounds in the U.K. is closer to that of a DJ, and it's up to the live sound engineer to push the bass or volume to satisfy the demands of the party. "At the places we tend to play in the U.K. there is usually only one band on the bill with DJs on before and after. We are there to play for an hour and a quarter and that's it," Roberts says. "That's really where our sound has come from. The dance floor is already going and we have to slam it for an hour and a quarter and give them something extra compared to what the DJ is giving them. When we're done we give it back to the DJ and the people carry on dancing for another three hours or more. And we usually go out and join them."

When playing in the States, The New Mastersounds try to pack dance floors in the same way, but without the benefit of a DJ they have to shoulder the load and play extended sets, much to the delight of their rabid American fan base.

"We have always found it weird when we come to the States and all of a sudden when the band stops everyone leaves," says Roberts. "We obviously had to rethink our sets because you can't just play for an hour and have everyone leave. So, we started to get into this thing where we'd play longer and longer. It got all the way up to four hours one time, just keeping the dance floor going all that time, like a DJ would."

In order to keep up that kind of intensity it's critical that the band work well together. There is a certain "group-think" that is required to move the music into the territory that beat hungry dancers insist on. In late 2006 the band parted ways with longtime B3 player Bob Birch, who left the band to focus on teaching and settle down a bit. He was replaced by another Leeds local and friend, Joe Tatton.

"Joe fits in well because he knows where we are coming from musically and he has played with all of us at one time or another," says Roberts. "He is also familiar with the DJ/funk scene we come out of as he has been around it as well."

Shand & Roberts by Dieter Van Holder
After Tatton joined, The New Mastersounds toured for nearly a year before deciding that it was time to refocus the band's sound and get back to the deep funk roots that first inspired them. They parted ways with horn player Rob Lavers, who had joined them on recent tours, and set to work on rediscovering the group-think the quartet needed to thrive.

"You've got to get the four piece right and really working. Then you can add things on top of it," Roberts says. "We just felt that we needed to pull it back and really concentrate on the sound of the four. So, we did a lot of work on our European run in the fall, [during] soundchecks and things like that, just getting the sounds right and rearranging some stuff."

On their last pass through the States in November 2007, Roberts felt like things were hitting on all cylinders. "Everything was feeling really exciting and fresh again. The show in Denver with MOFRO was one of our musical highlights as a band. We slammed it! Everything fell into place and it just felt great."

The band has recently reentered the studio to try to capture this newfound energy on tape for an album currently slated for late spring release. If Roberts' enthusiasm about their current sound is any indication, we can expect another collection of the finest in nu-jazz and funk the scene has to offer. Until then, The New Mastersounds will continue to hone their skills, road test new compositions and fill dance floors at clubs from California to Colorado during a ten date tour this month.

Click here for full New Mastersounds tour dates.

JamBase | One Nation Under A Groove
Go See Live Music!


Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!


You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



 
 

Comments

bbqribs starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/15/2008 06:05PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

bbqribs

Wow, great article. I am going to see them in tiny Victor, Idaho pop. 850 tomorrow night at the Knotty Pine. It is going to be a mountain freak funk showdown!!

Chaloupka Tue 1/15/2008 06:46PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Chaloupka

Saw these cats open for Mofro and didn't dig their brand of funk. It was all way too fast tempo wise. NOLA funk is where its at!

DJ Saturday Baxter Tue 1/15/2008 06:47PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

DJ Saturday Baxter

hell yea! this was a great article. its cool to have some funk / dance stuff happening on this site again. this article is cool because it really gave me an idea of what the funk scene is like in the UK. funk funk funk...sick.

simple-alex starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/15/2008 06:59PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

simple-alex

nobody makes me get down like these guys.

Colonel Redbeard starstarstarstar Tue 1/15/2008 07:19PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Colonel Redbeard

knocked down the crystal bay club in tahoe this past saturday ... danced my butt off, yea!

justin r starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/15/2008 08:39PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

justin r

hell yea first heard these guys on a nugscast a few monthes ago shit blew me away, they bring the funk hot in heavy

phaslam starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/15/2008 09:23PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

phaslam

Great article, I caught these guys at High Sierra a couple years back opening up for a Karl D late night and have been hooked since then. They really get the floor bumbing and most people walk out of there shows sweaty and grinning like a jackal. Saw the last Fri. in SF and again had a blast. Keep it coming to the U.S.

bigandtall starstarstar Tue 1/15/2008 10:22PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I like these guys a lot. I keep missing them in NYC, though. Best show I have by them is from Jamcruise 07... great set if you can find it.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 05:18AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

this kind of music makes me giddy!!!

Robert Walters 20th congress, greyboy allstars, vinyl, galactic, all these bands are super killer.

This was a GREAT article and I am sooo happy to see some attention paid to these cats. I cannot imagine their brand of funk, boring me in any way.

I am shocked that chaloupka did not like them, but I have never seen them before, I only have all of their records.

I will agree, that if music is too fast or frantic, it can be hard to swallow at times. I have heard some RAQ that was soo speedy, I just about lost interest. The New Mastersounds records Kick ass and I hope that I can find a way to see them this year. peace yall..

sweetjames Wed 1/16/2008 07:41AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Saw these guys last summer in Chicago opening for the Headhunters with Robert Walter & Fred Wesley. I had never heard them before & was definitely impressed with their energy & the funk they brought. Hopefully they'll be back in the midwest this spring/summer!

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 08:07AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

Great band with great albums. They have yet to put out a bad disc. Every track on every album can be played over and over again. What a breath of fresh air out of the UK. Hopefully these guys will start hitting the East Coast a little more frequently .... soon!

gamecat starstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 08:46AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

gamecat

Great Band!

Can't wait to see them come through Chicago again.

Funky as hell.

Be sure to catch them @ Langerado if you go.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 09:35AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

hey guys go see this clip on their website!!!!!!

Zambezi

Clip features Eddie's guitar solo, from the gig in Belfort, France, Oct 07. Video courtesy of Philippe Reichenbach. Audio from Bertrand Ilhe (

theguykeator Wed 1/16/2008 10:01AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

theguykeator

These guys lay down funky bass lines and open it up into a high energy show, sounds like they would be very fun to check out. they need to bless the midwest with some of their vibes. Be checkin out Greyboy tomarrow at the Cabooze!!

funkybop starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 10:33AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

funkybop

This is such a sweet article & I could not agree more!! These guys BRING THE FUNK and then some!!! I saw them at HSMF in 2005 and have been hooked ever since... I now manage thier email list and thier merchandise!! Just finished a 4 show run in Cali and every show was SICK!! I sure hope you all can catch one of thier live shows on this tour, or check them out at Langerado in March or down in NOLA during JazzFest. And if you want to be on the email list, shoot me an email at gina_marion@comcast.net.

Hope to see you on the dance floor!

G! aka FunkyBop & Ginabop

2Heavy starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 11:07AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

2Heavy

Very nice article, these guys are sick! They know how to work a crowd and drop funky bomb, after funky bomb. Very down to earth as well. If you haven't seen theme, I definately recommend it.

gmoo Wed 1/16/2008 11:19AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

gmoo

They guys are great.

gmoo Wed 1/16/2008 11:19AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

gmoo

These

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 11:19AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

Check out this link on MySpace for multiple studio session type videos:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.showvids&friendID=51153517&n=51153517&MyToken=5298bd20-e229-47da-9634-c539175768a9

bigfro Wed 1/16/2008 02:45PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

bigfro

They kick ass

QuantumTubaMan starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 07:05PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

QuantumTubaMan

Most exquisite funk!

jbgroove starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 08:02PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

If you dig the NMS, then you'd probably dig other Euro-based funk in the likes of Poets of Rhythm, Lefties Soul Connection. The Soul Investigators, Quantic Soul Orquestra, Haggis Horns, The Bamboos (AU), Reverend Cleatus & The Soul Saviours, Baker Brothers, Speedometer, etc. That is if you give a funk.

dmb007m starstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 10:45PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

these guys are great. do not miss.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/17/2008 04:25AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

now finally, they get the attention they deserve in the USA.

they only have released 5 albums!!! I suggest u buy all of them, cos they are all freaking kick ass!!

GreasyFizeek starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/17/2008 07:58AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

GreasyFizeek

saw these guys at bear creek in live oak and they jammed their sets both days, then came out to the campsites and started jammin till the sun came up!!these guys dont stop and r down to rock your socks off all day and all night!!!

mfhgreyboy Fri 1/18/2008 11:31AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Absolutely about the Jamcruise 07 set. If you can get your hands on that pick it up. They also tore it up at the Clifford Brown Jazz festival this summer in Wilmington, DE. Shame they rarely seem to be on the east coast.

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/23/2008 12:31PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

The Jamcruise set is available here:

http://www.archive.org/browse.php?collection=etree&field=%2Fmetadata%2Fcreator

ozbad starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 03:08PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The remix album is brilliant. been getting a lo of spins at our gigs.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/28/2008 05:18AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

jbgroove starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 08:02PM

Show 0 Votes Thumbs up! Thumbs down!

If you dig the NMS, then you'd probably dig other Euro-based funk in the likes of Poets of Rhythm, Lefties Soul Connection. The Soul Investigators, Quantic Soul Orquestra, Haggis Horns, The Bamboos (AU), Reverend Cleatus & The Soul Saviours, Baker Brothers, Speedometer, etc. That is if you give a funk.

two words. Daptone Records!!!!!!!!!!

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/29/2008 07:21AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

Thanks Miles... I just ordered about 6 CDs from some of the artists you listed. A lot are available on Amazon and only some command the 20 dollar rate or more of the hefty import prices. Again, thanks for the suggestion.

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/4/2008 11:31AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

I enjoyed Speedometer the most out of the discs that I ordered.

Tim Dwenger starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/22/2008 08:12AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Thanks for turning me on to Speedometer! They are a great tight funk band with soulful vocals. Thanks for the recommendations!