On Tour With: RUDIMENTAL #WeTheGeneration
After traveling through all of the biggest cities in the US for less than two weeks--from New York, Brooklyn, and Chicago, to Los Angeles and San Francisco--Rudimental have established themselves as one of the most energizing and epic performers to come across the pond – a feat considering the recent Londoner tours that have hit the states in the past few weeks (eg. the Modestep, Gorgon City, and Disclosure Live tours). So on the band's way to their final soiree before heading back to Europe for the “We the Generation UK tour,” we caught up with Amir Amor of the core four, at LA Weekly's 2015 Best Music Venue --The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, amidst a two night stop in the City of Angels.
Elektro: So we know Rudimental means our favorite four guys: Piers Agget, Amir Amor, Kesi Dryden and DJ Locksmith (Leon Rolle). But Rudimental Live is completely different - it means a much bigger group of people. So let’s break this down - who’s on the tour this time around? What do each individual contribute to the stage and behind the scenes? How are all of you connected?
Amir Amor: The core of Rudimental is us 4 guys, we make all the music, write the songs and orchestrate the show. But the show would be non-existent without our family, the rudi-fam! Most of the band we have known for a long time some from school and some from college.. I went to college with Beanie Bhebe (our drummer) and Bridgette Amofa (our singer). Beanie and I jammed together in those days and always talked about staring a band, but it became a reality years later when we did our first proper live show as Rudimental on our home turf of Hackney in London. At that time I was a producer running Major Toms studio (now our record label) and had just started producing Rudimentals' songs. I had always recorded him on my other productions before Rudi, and when we got our live show offer, naturally he came and graced it with his beats and the rest was History. Bridgette was a similar story, I wanted to sign her to Major Toms years before Rudi, but the stars didn’t align then… Later when we wanted a singer to join the Rudi fam, the choice was obvious.
Mark Crown trumpet player, again was teaching piano at my old school. We all knew each other way before Rudimental and will probably know each other forever!
Elektro: I imagine you guys just busting out and jamming whenever you can. With such a huge group, the touring experience must be heightened in all corners. What are some of your favorite memories together from the US tour this time around?
AA: Touring with Rudimental is mad. We are one big family and wherever we go we bring a lot of energy. Our New York show was a standout, absolutely love playing in America.. Last time round we sold out Terminal 5 in NYC for the first time, I'm always staggered by the energy of the US fans, they are like our maddest fans at home. They proper get it...
Elektro: Drum & bass? EDM? Reggae? Soulful vocals? Where do you draw the line?? Is there any sound you don't want to touch? Or - Any surprise genres in store, places your musical careers started?
AA: I immigrated to the UK in the 90s, came from war and no schooling, into a culture hot pot called Somers Town in London. Grime and Jungle, but also Soul, Funk and Rock music were big influences on me growing up. The other 3 Rudi boys came from a House and Hip-Hop background; we brought this together and naturally our palette is vast...
Funny thing is we’ve got loads of tracks that we just can’t fit on our records because they’re too different. For example we spent some time in Jamaica for the making of this record, and ended up making a reggae E.P. We also did some tracks along the way with some legends, DJ Premier, NAS, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Chronix and others. There's a heap of unreleased material here…
Elektro: Related to this meshing of all these separate genres- do you guys know The Roots? Would it be a fair statement to consider you guys this generation’s version of that type of band? This is all I could think about while I watched you guys last night at the Fonda (I recently caught them at KAABOO a few weeks ago).
AA: We absolutely love the Roots, I’m proud to share a name with Ahmir (though he spelt it a bit funny), seriously though they are incredible and a big big influence on me personally. They invited us to play Roots Picnic in Philly the other year. We had an amazing response there, they really seem to get what we're all about. It comes from a place of love, acceptance and unity… We share the same values, and would love to collaborate with them in the studio!
Elektro: That would honestly be a dream come true! ... Further, I’ve noticed that we as a culture have become obsessed with all of these amazing live, electronic-infused performers coming from London (eg. Modestep, Gorgon City, Disclosure). What do you think it is about your city that has started this surge?
AA: We have a big Pirate Radio culture here; we don’t have community radio as such, so we had to make our own illegal broadcasts using home made antennas places carefully and dangerously on top of tower blocs. When we were teenagers we’d make some tracks, and play it out from the kitchen studio to the radios of our neighbourhoods. Grime, Garage and Drum and Bass were born in this scene, before Youtube, Soundcloud and the internet became affordable and accessible for us… When we broke out of the scene, we opened up the floodgates for our peers who were bubbling on the underground to break through. Disclosure and Gorgon are family and were proud that we're part of this scene!
Elektro: As Londoners, do you guys prefer the east or west coast of North America? Ride or die with who -- Best coast, west coast? Or beast coast, east coast?
AA: Hahah America is quite polarised and there is a vast range of people in it, so actually the East and the West coasts aren’t too dissimilar. Except for the climate! When I was a kid I was heavy into West Coast Hip-Hop, the G-Funk and the Dre’s, I loved the funk, the beats… but I know the other boys were into the Biggie Smalls and NAS…the more lyrical. Nowadays that rivalry is gone and Hip-Hop has crossed a lot of boundaries. Cali has some beautiful nature and beautiful people, even though it doesn’t have the clubs that the east coast does, it has wicked parties… We went to a warehouse after-hours rave in Compton after a gig once, and had the time of my life! New York is where Hip-Hop was born and is more similar to London, we love to play there more, its a culture hot pot… But I think I prefer the heat in the west….
Elektro: Who is (and why) the: Most unsuspecting crowd in either a city or festival that you had a surprisingly awesome time with?
AA: Had an incredible time at Outside Lands festival in San Fran; was a weird line up and sometimes with US crowds, you can’t be sure if they’re gonna be into live and electronic fusion we bring, or they just want 4x4 EDM. But this festival really flipped it all on its head, and had one of the most open minded crowds we’ve had. To be honest, there's 12 of us in the band, and we bring an awesome time with us everywhere we go! We even played a Metal festival in Germany called Rock AM Ring, and smashed it! We managed to convert the crowd which was nuts.
Elektro: What is your - Favorite spot in LA?
AA: You guys make up for the fact that you’re super strict with drinking laws and all the clubs close early, by having some sick house parties and after hours raves… also very lax with the erb… Can’t even remember the names of places, not even sure if they had a name…
I spent a couple days in Malibu in an old skool aristreamer, whilst recording in Michael Jacksons old studio in L.A. Malibu is incredible, my favorie view by far was from the streamer on top of a mount, looking towards the north Pacific at sunrise… beautiful!
Elektro: As for Beanie, did he realize his drumsticks made it all the way to the back of the balcony last night at the Fonda? And so freakin gracefully? Is that something he gets to practice or just a natural talent? I only assume this is a normal occurrence since he had more than two to throw and spares ready for the encore…
AA: Beanie has been known to chuck a drumstick or 2, it scares the shit out of us sometimes. He’s got some ridiculous strength in those arms, the man is a machine that runs on wine and sushi. He keeps a stick stash next to him at all times, he does love to chuck them...
Elektro: How was it collaborating with Ed Sheeran? Was it different from working with lesser known artists? Any intimidation, or was it as perfect as we imagine the process to be?
AA: I met Ed about a year before he got signed, and I was running Major Toms and hadn’t even produced anything Rudimental yet… We kept in touch but didn’t end up collaborating until years later. So we know each other very well, he’s an incredible talent and a humble guy, we tour together a lot and although we come from different worlds, there is a synergy between us in the creative process. Its effortless when were in the studio together… We wrote Bloodstream together, and LIAOM, and a bunch of other tracks that we haven’t finished yet...
Elektro: And since so many of the songs on the new album, plus the previous on ‘Home,’ hit a certain chord -- let's end on you giving fans a piece of your heart. Which tracks on the new album come from more personal experiences and hit closer to home? What are some of those more intimate experiences?
AA: On one level the song “I Will For Love” is a dedication to our loved ones.. I connect with this song as an Immigrant, hence working so closely on the Video with my friends I Owe Youth (previously unknown directors) to translate this sentiment. My parents had an epic struggle to give me the freedom to do what I do. I wanted to create a video that would shine a light on the plight of the immigrant journey, and the lengths we go to for our loved ones.
The song was written at a time where I was going through some personal shit, family disorder and breakups. Touring life insists that you say bye bye to your loved ones and dive into something thats sometimes hard for those at home to understand. It hasn’t been easy on those who need us. But we do this for the love, if we didn’t it would all fall apart. So on another level this song is about being strong as Rudimental, staying true to the inspiration that drove us in the first place. >>