Courtesy Rolling Stone In the spirit of March Madness, Rolling Stone has…
- Posted on Feb 28th 2011 10:20AM by Linda Laban
Courtesy of Rolling Stone
Does this competition feel something like doing 'American Idol', like a talent contest?
It is in a way, but what I appreciate about this is that they [Rolling Stone] chose acts that built their own reputation as artists. They didn't try to change the bands. We are getting the chance to be put in front of millions of readers and be ourselves. We really appreciate that, we couldn't do it any other way.
What are the band's influences?
Our influences really run the gamut. We have a lot of classic rock influences: From Cream, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie. The Kinks and the Beatles. Then there's the mid-'90s like Timbaland, Aaliyah, Playa, and Missy [Elliott]. Then we have influences from the 2000s: The Strokes and the Arctic Monkeys; the Dead Weather, and tons and tons of other people we draw from.
What would you say is the element that runs in each that grabs you?
A sense of freedom and self-expression. Originality is something we really really appreciate. We want to keep that trend of making music that people haven't necessarily heard before. Though sounding a bit familiar, it isn't quite the same cut.
You named a lot of rock bands. You do not play rock as such, more urban pop really. How do you categorize your music?
I try not, because it gets confusing when you get into categories and genres, for us anyway. When we name our influences it starts to sound like so much of a melting pot that people might think we're not sure of where we want to go. That's not the case. If I could name our music anything, I'd call it genre-bending. Like Ray Charles blending gospel and the blues, and soul and pop, and adding country. Or David Bowie doing rock and musical theater. These are people who aren't easily pigeonholed, so if genre-bending could be a new category then I'd love to call our music that.
You opened for Raphael Saadiq in 2009, what's the band's connection with him?
We met him through MySpace in 2008, he really is a mentor for us. That's a priceless thing to have on your side, someone who has that much longevity. With Raphael, he lets us be ourselves and he gave us that reassurance that what we're doing is OK. He's a mentor and role model to us.
How did you get into Nas' video 'Hero'?
Someone we knew was working on his shoot, so we went along. They needed someone to yell and Lejin volunteered. Then we got into the background and it just happened. We got to talk to Nas, too. That was a couple of years ago.
You cleverly put yourself in the right place at the right time.
Yeah, exactly [laughs]
Good move. So, you plan to have a full-length record out this year?
That is the definitely the plan. After people hear this record they will get us, that melting pot we do. We're excited, we're playing it by ear on how to handle it. We need to release it at the most appropriate time. It is a business, it's definitely a business. We keep that in mind. We create freely with no inhibitions and then after we try and make sense of what's going on and how best to put it out. It's important to get those details right.