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May 25, 2011

Another funky night, another jazzy city

The New Mastersounds emerged from Leeds, England, in the late ’90s as a group completely uninterested in the then-popular Britpop sounds of Oasis and Blur. Their update of swingin’ ’60s jazz-funk quickly endeared them to music aficionados who yearned for both old sounds and young energy. Their collaborators have ranged from members of the Meters and the Headhunters to younger talents such as Grace Potter, Karl Denson and Mr. Scruff. LEO caught up recently with guitarist Eddie Roberts.

LEO: How do you describe your music to someone who’s never heard you before? Do you describe it differently to older and younger people?
Eddie Roberts: I find that describing our music does depend on the person you are describing it to, as the term “funk” can mean so many different things to different people — from James Brown to George Clinton to Funky House. You have to do a little digging to find out how much music history the person has — “Have you heard of the Meters? James Brown?” If the answer is no, then I would tell them that we play funky music to make people dance. If the answer is yes, then I would say that we came from a scene in the UK of DJs playing old funk and soul, and we learned by imitating those old records, and that we treat our show like a DJ would by keeping the dance floor going and taking the audience on a journey.

LEO:
What is your process like for creating new music?
ER: We pretty much work the same way on every album. We like to work quickly, five days at the most. We leave a lot of the creative process for the studio, but enter into it with a lot of sketched ideas. I feel that, this way, you capture a spontaneity and energy in the music.

LEO: How do you get introduced to collaborators?
ER: Generally, we either knew them before or we’ve met each other at festivals or just on the road. The collaboration starts with us all feeling that we would simply love to make some music together.

LEO:
Do you think you would be happier living in an earlier time?
ER: Not really. I think it’s a very romantic idea, but the reality is, life has so many more opportunities for more people these days — and who knows, I might not have been in the right place at the right time in 1967!

LEO: Your website notes that My Morning Jacket is playing (a sold-out show) on the same night as you. How do you feel about situations like this?
ER: Every night in every city, there is always “another” show going on, and more often than that, by a more popular band. People simply make their choice on any given night with what they feel like, and a number of other factors.

The New Mastersounds with Deep Fried 5

Tuesday, May 31
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road • 584-8088
www.newmastersounds.com
$15; 9 p.m.