Plus One: So this is the start of you UK tour, are you excited about it?
Sekou Lumumba: Mmmmm yeah we are actually, the last time we were here it was the first time our band had been in the UK for three, maybe three and a half years, so the reception was really good. It was my first time with Bedouin here, so it’s really exciting to come back.
Do you find that there’s any sort of differences in the reception that you get playing between UK and America?
Yeah, UK is a lot more rabid in terms of, like, you know what I mean! They know a lot more of the songs, they just like get really into it at every show. It’s as though in states, like it depends where you are, but they tend to be very reserved, like when you finish a song they clap afterwards, but here the audiences are just full-on the whole way through. Which for us, as performers, is great.
The Americans are quite polite then?
I don’t wanna say snobby but just, there’s kind of like a vibe sometimes of like ‘You can’t impress us.’
Could you just define your sound, describe it for our readers?
Oh wow, that’s a great question. We get asked that a lot, you’d figure we’d know the answer by now! There’s definitely a strong reggae bass to a lot of what the band does, but especially on ‘Light the Horizon’ we really tried to do something different than on the other Bedouin outings, like tried to add something. But the whole record is a lot moodier, so it’s a little more sombre than some of the earlier stuff, which tended to be a lot more upbeat. But really, we kind of try to think of ourselves as kind of a groove bass band, anSekou Lumumba d like I say a lot of it tends to come from reggae/ska and punkish.
I hear you’ve been likened to Bob Marley and other reggae artists, would you say there’s any other artists that have inspired you?
Definitely The Clash, they are a common thread for the three of us, like we all have different interests, but The Clash is something that we all strongly agree on. Other influences....I know Jay really likes Leonard Cohen, a lot of like singer-songwriter stuff. I come from a, like a very mixed background, like Bad Brains, I love Bad Brains.
Didn’t you do a record with Bad Brains?
Ahhh, Darryl Jennifer did two of the earlier albums before I was around, but he produced an EP and then a full album. And yeah, he contacted us like a few weeks ago, which for me was crazy because like I grew up with him and his music, I didn’t know he worked with the band! I was literally like trying to be really cool about it, but I was like ‘How do you know Darryl Jennifer?! What are you talking about?’ I just lost it! But I’m still waiting to meet him though, which would really freak me out. This is how much of a fan I am, on the Bad Brains site they just put out like a limited edition of 100 portraits of Darryl Jennifer done by Shepard Fairey, and I bought one right away! I’m a superfan, for sure.
So you say you have a very reggae sound, and with reggae tends to come the visual of a beach with sunshine...Is that something that you keep in mind when making a record?
(Laughs) Not so much really, I mean the reggae that the band draws from is more the UK ska stuff. I mean, I’m from Trinidad, so there is that Caribbean feel to it for sure. But as far as Bedouin goes I’d say it was more of a British thing, which isn’t sunny any day! (chuckles as he looks out at the spitting rain) But, you know, it’s reggae so you do automatically feel that obviously when you listen to it, so we don’t mind that at all.
Do you personally feel like your perception of music has changed as you’ve got older?
Oh, without a question, for sure. It’s really funny because when you’re in a band you have different goals at different points. So when you first start to play music, you wanna form a band. And when you form a band, you wanna write some songs. And then you wanna do some shows. And these goals, they move up, and when you start doing shows, you wanna put out an album, and then you wanna get signed. And when you get signed, you wanna tour, and as you reach each thing it just goes up and up. And so you get to different goals you start to learn more about this great ‘thing,’ and you start to learn harsh truths that come with it. Like being in a band is like being in a family, there’s ups and downs, and you get mad at each other, and you share laughs. And so having like a record deal is great because it gets you exposure, but at the same time you sometimes owe people a lot of money, or you get locked into a working relationship with someone you’re not crazy about...but then you get on TV and your songs are on the radio! It’s all a bit of give and take, so the more you learn, the more your perception changes, definitely. But it’s like, I’ve been with Bedouin for a year and a half now, but I’ve been playing music professionally for a long time, so my experience is like Jay and Eon’s, they’ve been doing music for ten years now, but it works!
So nothing surprises you anymore then?
Well I wouldn’t say there’s no more suprises (laughs) There’s always surprises, but I think you learn to develop tools to deal with them, right?
Typical for life really, isn’t it?
Exactly, exactly. People will say to me like ‘You’re such a great drummer!’ And I’m like ‘Man it’s actually really easy.’ Anything you do, if you focus your attention on your abilities or the skills you learn, it becomes easy, right?
So you weren’t with Bedouin when they put out ‘When the Night Feels My Song?’
No, but I mean the band is big back in Canada, so the song I remember reading at some point it was the second most played song behind Nickleback. So I knew of the band, and funnily enough the song itself drove me crazy. Becasue I had a girlfriend at the time who was crazy about it, and it was all she would play, and so it just got on my nerves, and it just drove me insane. So when I joined the band, I had to tell them like I enjoy the band, but the song just... (groans with irritation). But it’s different when you play it because you live with it, you can make it your own, add little bits in. But the song, yeah, it haunted my dreams for a long time!
You’re playing Reading and Leeds festivals this year, what would you say the main differences are in playing festivals compared to venues such as Cockpit?
I know Bedouin have done sort of a bunch when ‘The Night’ was big. I mean, festivals are great, the energy, I mean I talked about the UK having a great energy, but the festival energy over here as opposed to festivals over in North America its like really crazy. I love it, you never know what to expect. Everyone’s really crazy and hyper and in a good mood. We did one show in Australia where there were two stages, and we were playing one at the same time as another band. And so people would just literally turn their heads to watch the band they wanted to see. Here, that just does not happen, you just have everyone’s full attention, and I’m looking forward to it. Reading is something that I’ve seen and heard of, but never thought I would be playing it so I’m really excited about it.
So when did ‘Light the Horizon’ come out in the UK?
In the UK I think it was – (here we get interrupted by Nunya the tour manager to warn Sekou about the lack of phone signal available in Cockpit) – in the UK it came out May 8th.
And what’s the reception been like?
I don’t know, we’re gonna find out tonight! These things, they fluctuate, so we just put our noses to the grindstone, we play our shows, keeping it there for the fans. I know leading up to the shows there’s a lot of chatter on like Twitter and Facebook and on the website about people that have been waiting for the show. It feels good, like I’m the new guy, so I want fans to be happy about me being in the band, and about the effort that we put in, so it feels good to have that response, and to have a good critical response too, like we’ve been played by the BBC, and we’re really happy about that.
How would you say ‘Light the Horizon’ compares to Bedouin’s older material?
I’d say it was definitely a lot more mature, it shows a lot more moods. Like when I joined there was a lot of mandate for the songs to go a different way. It’s had more growth, and shows more closure with the band, so the songs are definitely a lot more mature than the older Bedouin stuff.
I’ve got a couple of questions from people on Twitter, one was what sort of career path would you have taken if it wasn’t for music?
Oh wow. Eon was in school to be a teacher when this whole thing was taking off. Jay would probably have been a painter, he still does a lot of that now. And me, if it wasn’t for music? I would have been a comic book artist. Before drumming, that was my thing, I drew a lot! My problem is that I can’t do two separate things at once, so like I picked up drumming and started following it so the drawing kind of fell behind. But yeah literally before drumming, that was my thing, that was my path that I was going to go for.
What’s your favourite comic book?
That’s a tough one. It would have to be Marvel, not DC. I’m gonna go ahead and say...oh it’s a tough one. The Amazing Spiderman or The Uncanny X-Men!
Nice! And another question from Twitter, what are your musical guilty pleasures?
God, if Jay reads this, he’s gonna kill me. The first band, they’re from here, from the Isle of Wight called Level 42. And this band, when I was 15 or 16, they just happened to be the first band that I
kind of latched onto, there was something about the songs that I just really liked, and they were my first favourite band. To this day I still love them! And I listen to a lot of like Slayer and Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold, and classical music, and folk music, and blues. But Level 42, they could fart in a microphone and put it out, and I would buy it in a heartbeat, for sure.
So what’s the future for you guys? What’s next?
What’s next? We’re putting a bunch of songs together, we’re going right back to the studio when we’re done promoting this album. So yeah, by December we’ll be back in the studio. We’re looking to, we have a lot of cool places to go with the songs, and people to record with, and put out another record. It’s funny because when you do an album you go into a cycle, so when you’re done promoting it and touring for it there comes a downcycle where you don’t do anything for a while. Then the record company’s like ‘here’s some money, go record another one!’ So we’re like ‘really? Cool.’ So we’re gonna go back by the end of the year with a handful of songs and start that.
As we shake hands and separate, it is very obvious that Bedouin Soundclash are very humble musicians. Sekou was so laid-back that he was almost falling over, no pretentious airs or graces, and seemed happy to be playing with such a successful American band. They are just doing what they love, and although new album ‘Light the Horizon’ shows a more mature Bedouin, their bouncy reggae style will keep pleasing audiences here in the UK and across the pond.
Interview by Amy Allaker