Last night I was blown away by a truly amazing live performance from one of the UK’s hardest working bands. So is it cool to go out and listen to funky Hammond and jazz guitar? Who cares? 400 people were dancing last night and even the most sceptical were grooving before the end.
The James Taylor Quartet are a fascinating band with a hugely dedicated following and with more than 20 years on the road. They play to sell out crowds most nights of the week. It must be said though for a band that is currently recording their 19th studio album they seem to keep a remarkably low profile.
I’ve just opened a retro clothing shop and want some music that will make people want to buy clothes do you think your 19th album fits the bill?
James: "Yeah it’s definitely an album that would sell clothes; we have tried to catch the essence of a really great live show. We have been recording in Rochester all playing together to capture something. Getting the band on a groove is what JTQ are all about."
Of all of your albums which is your favourite?
James: "The Exorcism which is the new album, as a musician you are always feeling the groove you are on at the time."
You have worked with lots of people; is there anyone else you’d still like to work with?
James: "Yeah most of them are really old jazz musicians; I’d really love to work with George Benson. I have had the chance to work with some great people Roy Ayers was great."
JTQ are well respected as one of the UK’s hardest working live acts but does it feel like hard work?
James: "Yes, very, I can’t gig like we used to. We did 100 gigs last year and 130 the year before. Relentless gigging is a killer it’s one non stop journey from a UK tour then Europe and then all the summer festivals. Normally by January I’d be hassling to get back on the road again but this year I am taking a much more laid back approach."
What has been your most surreal experience gigging abroad?
James: "We were in Thailand and had been booked to play for the army for 3 consecutive nights. It was the most surreal experience because we played to a 70 year old army general his wife and about 3 Australian tourists for 3 nights running. I’m convinced they’d organised some music event to cover up salacious activity behind the scenes."
You scored some of the music for the first Austin Powers movie is that something you’d like to do more of?
James: "Yeah I love film and the whole process of what good music can do to a film. In movies like Jaws the music totally makes the film, creates the atmosphere, suspense and tension it’s such a powerful medium when it’s done right."
If your music could change one thing in the world what would it be?
James: "It would be to blow up George Bush and stop us going to war with Iraq, we didn’t vote for Tony Blair to get another 8 years of Thatcherism and take us to war. I am joining a protest against war with Iraq on Saturday 15th February from Embankment (London)."
It’s the BRITS in a couple of weeks; who was your nest newcomer for 2002?
James: "The BRITS can fuck itself; it’s a load of music industry self-appreciating shite my best newcomer won’t be at the BRITS and probably never will be. There’s a band from Leeds called The New Masters of Sound who have a funky Hammond driven sound, they are my best newcomers."
If you weren’t being James Taylor of JTQ what would you be doing?
James: "My identity is that of a musician so it’s hard to say, I’d probably have done something engineering based finding oil perhaps."
How does it feel after a gig when people come up to you and say how great you were?
James: "If you go out to see a band and you are so impressed that it moves you to say something then it must have meant quite a lot, it certainly takes a lot to go up to someone and say you really liked what they did. It feels great to know you have connected with someone."
It’s fast and furious in the ready money round so we want to know your preferences from these quick fire questions…
Smarties or M&M’s?
Gigs – better drunk or sober?
James: "Definitely sober I used to drink a litre of vodka before going on stage but now I don’t drink at all and it’s definitely better."
Radio or TV?
James: "Radio, I have been listening to radio 2 and radio 4."
Pizza or Chinese?
Stella or Fosters?
James: "Well I don’t drink anymore but if I had to choose - Fosters."
Thank you Mr. James Taylor.
The James Taylor Quartet could well be caught gigging in a town near you. If you feel like a change from punk or rock then check out some Hammond funk, just for one night.
Their 19th studio album is due for release in May. Get the latest on the JTQ