Pop Shop FM interview with retro rockers Bamboozle–On the playlist now
Bamboozle are a 50’s influenced rocking band with a modern sound. Being one of the only bands to have a gal on vocals and rockabilly slap bass a world class pedal steel player , one of the scenes top rockabilly guitarists and drummers and mesmerising four part harmonies Bamboozle are the band to see !
Playing a range of 1950’s rockabilly swing and western swing classics original songs and arrangements of some modern tunes , Bamboozle are a truly rocking band to dance the night away to.
The band consists of:
Serena Sykes – Double Bass/Vocals
Jim Knowler – Guitar/Vocals
Dave Kirk – Pedal Steel Guitar /Vocals
Shaun o’Keeffe – Drums /Vocals
The new single ‘Just like you’ is taken off the album ‘Red Right Hand’.
Bamboozle interview – POP SHOP FM
How would you describe your genre ?
Serena: I guess you could describe our music as Modern Rockabilly Swing… Or 50’s Revival… It’s a real eclectic mix of our influences. It has some definite rockabilly tones, and a strong western swing feel, and also swing style, but it also has a clean, modern sound, with even some alternative influences from myself. Its very difficult to pin down in one style, its not really like anything else around at the moment.
Jim: Rockabilly, Rock n’ Roll, Western swing and jive. Influenced by music from the 1950’s, but with a modern edge to it.
Shaun: A strong rockabilly sound with a broad range of styles
What is your new single ‘Just Like You’ about ?
Serena: The title track of our EP, Red Right Hand, is actually an original arrangement of a song by the artist Nick Cave. It’s a song I fell in love with when the movie “Scream” first came out, as it is featured on the soundtrack, and I was a big fan of horror, and really impressed with the new ‘slasher flick’ style the movie brought to the mix.
When we started Bamboozle, and I really started to get a taste for rockabilly music, which is really my favourite personal influence in the band, I had the idea to do a cover version of the song. The rest of the band members were dubious at first, but after we tried it a few times, it really gelled, and it was quickly obvious the tune would feature heavily at gigs.
Jim wrote the other main song on the EP, “Just Like You”. He has been writing music since he was 17, and has had a lot of success previously with his band, The Keytones, which he wrote all the original music for. We even spotted one of his singles in the “Rare Records” book in Waterstones a few weeks back, that was an exciting moment. The single is worth £20, and I think we still have a good few copies, just in case we’re ever that broke 😉
The version of Pink Panther was really just a jam. We were messing around with the theme in a rehearsal, and I mentioned I’d love to play the theme on bass, it would be a lot of fun as its such a cool tune. We played around with it, and the rockabilly style made its way into the arrangement, and we all just knew it would be a hit with our audience. Its such an exciting feel!
Jim: The new EP is our first release. We wanted to create something that would showcase as many of the genres of music we play. “Red right hand’ is a rockabilly cover with a modern edge to it. “Just like you” is a song I wrote. It’s about someone realising that a friend they had known for a while, was becoming more than a friend. It’s written to a jive tempo, so nice and upbeat for the dancers to enjoy.
Dave inspired “The Pink Panther”, when he started playing the famous intro. Serena had the idea of playing it as an instrumental despite not having a saxophone in the band. This gave it an original twist that I think works really well.
“Ice Cold Beer” is another original composition written by me. It’s about a guy who has obviously had a lot of bad experiences in his love life. So he decides to seek solace in a bar and buy an ice-cold beer, and cheers himself up by comparing the beer to his past girlfriends, and the beer wins hands down. It’s a very tongue in cheek song, with a western swing feel to it.
Shaun: Red right hand , Serena (bass) had the idea to turn a slow moody Nick cave song into a raw hard rock n roll number.
Have you worked with any huge names in music ?
Serena: I’m probably the least experienced member of the band when it comes to names. I actually consider all the Bamboozle boys as pretty established names in their own right, so I feel like a very lucky girl!
We also had the opportunity to work with Liam Watson of Toe Rag Studios on the EP, who is a really big name I the industry, and produced The White Stripes most famous song, Seven Nation Army. He was a real pleasure to work with.
Other than that, I mentioned Les Curtis before, and quite recently I played on a music video for an artist called Jennifer Saran. She works closely with Narada Michael Walden, and has recorded with Santana. I played bass and created/performed a harmony line for her song, Last Kiss, which is yet to be released.
Dave Ferguson’s, The Record Label, London, and also the upcoming band Black Orchid Empire, produced the video. I met Dave just over a year ago, when he booked our band for a private party, for his wife Amy, and he contacted me about playing on the video. It was a wonderful experience, and it was recorded at The Rivoli Ballroom, London, a venue I felt very privileged to have the experience playing in.
I have also worked with some wonderful local musicians in my time, there is a real wealth of talent in my area, and I’m looking forward to the future, waiting to see what surprises might come my way!
Dave: I’ve worked with Paul Franklin Steel Guitarist with Mark Knopfler. I also worked with Don Mescall, (Internationally acclaimed Irish Singer/ Songwriter/Producer) both playing at live gigs and his recording studio helping in sessions. I was his acoustic guitarist and steel player. Don Mescall has associations with Rascal Flatts, The Backstreet Boys, Lonestar, Ronan Keating, Mackenzie Porter, Sharon Corr, American Idol’s Clay Aiken, Boyzone, Canadian Idol Winner Theo Thams, Aslan, Lulu, Kirsty, The New Cities, French Canadian artist Garou, Woodstock’s legendary Richie Havens, Neal McCoy, Brian Kennedy, Luke Dickens, Jaydee Bixby, The High Kings, Frances Black, and I would be on a lot of the demo tracks that went out to these artists. I also played steel on the Michael Barrymore show “My Kind of Music”.
Shaun: Jim and I have supported the Pogues, Republica, Jools Holland. We met Paul McCartney, was invited to play a part in a music video for release of Oh Boy by Buddy Holly, & meet Paul a spend an evening in the company of many big names in music. Jools Holland was a support gig & Jim & I know a few of his band & we went down very well & Pogues, was support in Germany to around 40,000 people which was a fantastic experience…. just recently worked with Liam Watson from Toerag studios, who is doing great things at his studio & already has many big names using his studio, the White Stripes, Madness & Stereophonics. & you have to have confidence when you work with the best.
Where was your E.P recorded and produced ?
Liam Watson –Toe Rag Studios, London.
What has been your biggest challenge to date as a band?
Serena: As a band, our biggest challenge has really been starting the band running. There really wasn’t a lot of time to prepare at first, and the first few months were very intense. We rehearsed a lot, and had to put a full set together in a very shot period, as we all needed to be out working as quickly as possible. I think that is probably the hardest part of being in an independent band and living as a full time musician, there is always the need to earn a living, which puts a lot of pressure on us.
Personally, my biggest challenge has probably been learning to speak to the audience. I’m not a very confident person when it comes to talking, and I have really struggled to become comfortable with talking to the audience, as I’m always afraid of saying something stupid, or making a fool of myself. It can be really difficult to know what to say, how to be clear and not waffle, and sometimes even when to stop! I’m starting to really enjoy it now, but its taken me a long time to get this far.
Jim: Starting a new band again from scratch has been a challenge but also exciting. As an artist I’m always trying to push myself to improve musically and performing.
Dave: Representing The UK on Pedal Steel Guitar in Australia at 3 Guitar Festivals. Another personal challenge was when I first joined Bamboozle. I had heard rockabilly music, but never really studied it. My roots were in country music and some swing music, but Rockabilly was completely alien to me! I felt like I had to relearn how to play the steel, as it was a completely different way to play the instrument. It really allowed me to come out of my shell with the steel, as I have usually been a little restricted with what I would be allowed to play, but with Bamboozle, the band encouraged me to really find out what my instrument could do, and experiment with sounds as much as possible. Steel guitars are usually a background insturments, so playing so many lead breaks, and featuring so heavily, was a big challenge.
Shaun: Making a living from it, has to be the honest answer as it’s common amongst working musicians…. & finding people that are easy going you can work with & have a democratic process to band work, can’t do Divas .male or female..not in a band situation…it’s not a good thing at all…
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands or start a career in the music business ?
Serena: Plan ahead, work hard, know your style and stay determined. It’s a much harder industry that people realise, and often takes more work than most jobs, especially if you are an independent band, just starting out. You have to be a musician, manager, diplomat, arranger, public speaker, accountant, sound engineer, event planner, marketing consultant, designer, and your own personal assistant. There are so many skills involved in being successful in the music industry, and its more than a full time job, you have to live and breathe what you do. It really does take over all areas of your life, but if you really want it, and want it for the right reasons, (generally the love of music, and the passion to share it with others, rather than wanting fame), then just keep working and it will happen. The main thing is, stay positive, know your instrument and never stop learning.
Jim: I’d say find a style of music that you are passionate about and immerse yourself in it. Learn about your particular instrument, how it sounds in your chosen genre. Copy your favourite artists, and then try to find your own style or voice. The main thing is to enjoy it, and in time you will find your own path, and succeed.
Dave: Pick a music that suits your ability and stick at it
Shaun: Don’t run before you can walk, learn your craft & enjoy what you do…& treat others around you with openness & don’t forget your integrity, that’s yours to protect… don’t take your forget that you will make mistakes & sometimes you can be wrong…listen to experience & learn from it…it’s ok to do so…
Describe what a typical day/week is like for you ?
Serena: As the band manager, I spend a lot of time on admin and marketing. I usually get up and see the kids off to school, then I spend school hours and beyond, (as Jim takes over with the parental taxi service most of the time, while I cover the admin for the band), marketing, researching stock items, brands etc, maintaining the website, answering emails and calls, and generally keeping things ticking over.
If I get time, I love to work on writing new material. Idea’s pop up at anytime, and I have a trove of unwritten songs, lines, melodies, riffs, chords I like, just waiting to be worked on. I usually try to spend my evenings with the kids and Jim, sharing family time, as family is the most important thing in my life. Jim and my kids are my world, however from Thursday until Sunday; we’re usually gigging. When we’re not playing Bamboozle gigs, we play private and corporate functions, and its rare that we have an evening off on those days.
Jim: Start with a coffee, that’s essential, and then answer any emails, phone messages, voicemails that are urgent. Maybe try practise a bit, work on songs.
Dave: Running a Guitar Repair Business in the daytime, and spending the rest of the time looking forward to playing at live gigs.
Shaun: Most days if I can, I try to switch off from the intensity of gigs & take to cycling around & visiting mates who are nothing to do with music, it gives me a grounded perspective on life & also look after my children, school runs, clubs etc…& then last but not least, time with my partner…which is always good….