The Black Seeds: Wellington band follows up global

By Mike Dinsdale

Sometimes you can be a victim of your own success, and for Kiwi band The Black Seeds their huge international success since breakthrough album Solid Ground means fans have had to wait until now - four years later - for the follow-up.

But those who have been hanging out for another slab of infectious grooves from the Seeds won't be disappointed with Dirt and Dust, released last week - it's even more eclectic and electric than anything they've done yet.

The Wellington band is about to go out on a nine-show tour to promote Dirt and Dust, and for band member Mike Fabulous the album is the culmination of all the members throwing in their influences and passions to create an even more exciting sound.

Mike says having such huge success with Solid Ground, and predecessor Into the Dojo (125,000 albums sold internationally), has given the band more freedom to record the album it wants. But on the other hand, they didn't really have a lot of spare time to make it because of the touring.

They spent time over the past two years recording and producing the album in their Wellington studio, and the outcome couldn't be better.

"I suppose you could say we were a victim of our own success, but last year we didn't go to the United States or Europe and just worked on the album," Mike says.

"It's fun to go away and tour, but we had to come back to do the album or things would have just got away from us.

"We usually make an album every two years (Dirt and Dust is the band's fifth since 2001's Keep On Pushing) but we didn't manage to squeeze this one in in time. When we did start working on it though we wanted to do it a different way," he says.

"We wanted it to be more relaxed and we wanted to satisfy our creative urges and also fully reflect who we are and our influences.

"When you have six people all with different tastes and influences and experiences ... this album is far more 'us' than any of the others and really reflects all of our tastes."

Long-term fans needn't worry that the Seeds have gone all weird or ethereal on them, though. There's still plenty of the band's trademark reggae/funk fusion, but explorations into other genres are thrown into the mix as well.

Loose Cartilage goes all electric and AC/DC-ish, with a riff the size of Australia, while Don't Turn Around has a serious disco tinge and the horns on Love Me Now swing big time.

"It was a really fun album to make and everybody had the time and space to contribute more equally. And I think we found that extra freedom more inspiring," Mike says.

"It helped us be more honest and we had more time. We would do a song maybe 10 times, and if it didn't feel right after two or three takes we'd drop it, then come back to it, sometimes much later.

"We were much less frantic in terms of the production, and that meant we could put far more spirit into it."

Dirt and Dust is the sound of a band at the peak of its powers, with the individual members all contributing exciting ideas and themes.

I think it will have even more international appeal than the band's last two albums, and Mike agrees.

"We didn't plan it that way, but I think you're right. This album should go down well anywhere and we're really looking forward to getting out on the road and playing the new songs live."

Mike hasn't been on the road with the band for a while, preferring instead to be "studio-bound" here, creating new soundscapes while the other members hit the road, but he'll be on the New Zealand tour.

"I think I get the best of both worlds, really. I feel a bit selfish at times but it's quite a good gig.

"The others are in the middle of 45 gigs in Europe as we speak, which means multiple hotels, buses, planes, trains and living out of a suitcase - I don't miss that.

"Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy playing live, it's just that I prefer the studio - I'm more of a homebody and I find it very creative."

- Hamilton News

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