New Zealand reggae, pop and funk band The Black Seeds will be presenting their first North American album, Solid Ground (Easy Star Records) on their first U.S. tour. Solid Ground (Easy Star Records) will be released exclusively on iTunes September 15th and everywhere else September 29th.
“It’s all about the island sound,” laughs The Black Seeds’ guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Barnaby Weir. “Speed ukulele, church choirs, the rhythm of the Samoan log drum. After all, if you live on the island, are you going to put on AC/DC?”
“New Zealand reggae is not strictly reggae. We have our own sounds. It’s been a small but influential scene for a long time, and as a teen, I remember going to hear big sound systems,” Weir recalls. “We’ve been playing parties for something like fifteen years. But the scene now has hit a popular phase. It’s almost a trend in a way. Being from an underground band, I’ve watched it really come into its own over the last five years.”
The Black Seeds have ridden this rising reggae tide, working out of a studio dubbed The Surgery that the band converted from a once condemned Wellington karate dojo. A maze of halls, rooms, and nooks, it’s practice space, recording studio, and funky spiritual home all in one. “The Surgery is a fairly humble but well-used studio. It’s our headquarters. It’s not flash. But it’s fuckin’ good!” Weir exclaims.
The Surgery has incubated a shifting sound over the years that the band, tight from months of touring when they recorded Solid Ground, wryly calls “future-retro.” Strictly roots, molten bass and punchy brass collide with edgy funk beats (as on “Rotten Apple”) and what Weir calls the “spacey textures” of tracks like “Slingshot,” all with a gently optimistic Kiwi twang.
“We are all from the cradle of civilization in the Congo, and it all developed from there and migrated all the way to the islands of the South Pacific,” muses Weir. “We made it down here. There are African rhythms in every music, and we believe you can find the journey of the rhythm all the way down to New Zealand.”
The Black Seeds 2009 Tour:
09/10/2009, Burlington, VT, Higher Ground
09/11/2009, New York, NY, The Bowery Ballroom
09/12/2009, Ithaca, NY, Castaways
09/15/2009, Iowa City, IA, The Industry
09/17/2009, Boulder, CO, Fox Theatre
09/18/2009, Englewood, CO, Gothic Theatre
09/19/2009, Bellvue, CO, Mishawaka Amphitheater
09/21/2009, Park City, UT, Downstairs Park City
09/23/2009, Crystal Bay, NV, Crystal Bay Club Casino
09/24/2009, San Francisco, CA, Rickshaw Stop
09/25/2009, Solana Beach, CA, Belly Up Tavern
09/26/2009, Santa Barbara, CA, Heal the Ocean Festival
Buy the CD: Solid Ground