By Harsharan Hoonjan
After an epic couple of sets, for The Post Orgasmic Sunshine Band’s Christmas party on December 14th 2013, it was time to see the headline act hit the stage of Stereo Glasgow.
The band came on, however, and orchestrated a set that gave us all food for thought.
Something amazing was going on here, but it was not evident at first. There are two vocalists who have voices that are somewhat mismatched, there is the smoothness of the clarinet and saxophone, slick keys gliding over each beat, thick grooves coming from the bass, all the while laced with thumping drums and hearty guitar strings. Oh yes, and there is not one distinct sound either, the mish-mash of genres sparked my interest further, because like their recorded material, this band has created a new sound, and bring it to life with their on-stage banter.
I wanted to interview the band to find out a bit more about them, their formation, their ethos and their vision. The members that make up this Ska, Dub, Reggae, Celtic, Dirty Groove collaboration are: Al (Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar) Dr Eschaton (one of the founding members that occasionally joins the band on Guitar and Vocals), Josie (Backing Vocals), Frazer (Bass), Griff (Keyboard), Ja (Drums), Jay (Saxophone), Fi (Clarinet). Since forming in 2012, the band has toured up and down the country. They had an impressive “fifteen members at one point” – Al.
With three different line ups of musicians in 2013 the band has now established: “the faithful few” – Frazer.
On speaking to members of The Post Orgasmic Sunshine Band after their dynamic performance it was easy to forget I was conducting an interview! I have to hold my hands up and admit defeat, ‘they definitely got me!’ Their story was in charge, I was merely an avid reader, and what a wonderful tale it is…
‘Finally a light tore from the crack in the door frame, leaving scars of bright white across the floor, as a group assembled outside.
“There’s no such thing as coincidence!” said the Magician. ‘
An excerpt from your biography (https://www.facebook.com/posbmusic?fref=ts)
Al: This was written by one of our founding members just to symbolise how we got together. There was an element of new beginnings required. Elements from people and of bands they came from and bands they were still with. It was collaboration really; the idea was based around how many musicians we knew and how many we could get in the same room at the one time.
Only over the last several months have we felt we’ve got a group of people that aren’t going anywhere. There were members of the band who enjoyed what they did but had other things going on. When it came to last year we lost the bass player to go off and start a family. From then on, we were quite apprehensive, that was when we thought that things this year were gonna be a bit difficult. Instantly it wasn’t difficult, Frazer just stepped from guitar to the bass.
So really it seems to have helped us and we did some good gigs last year and we’ve got a solid basis I believe for 2014. I think we’re a better band than we were 12 months ago. I believe we’ve tried to rush certain aspects of our development and it’s not really worked. I think it will develop as quickly as it sees fit. With regards to the musicians in the band, even myself with regards to my instrumentation and stuff like that, things will happen exactly when they are supposed to happen. We tried to rush it and we can’t rush it. The band is still alive and it’s still existing and developing and changing every time we play.
I think one of the biggest things about us is we really really enjoy what we do!
Jay: Yea we all just do what Al does!
Fi: Which is to mostly moan, ‘Aww we’re not good enough!’
Al: You’ve got to push forward and give credit to the band because I’m quite an erratic performer. Songs that I write generally don’t stay the same. We’ve changed them gig by gig, you’ve gotta give credit to the band to act *clicks fingers* instantly on my behaviour which is pretty much what most of the band is based upon.
Frazer: Griff messaged me on Facebook and I got it on my lunch break from work. The message was:
‘Do you wanna join the sunshines? Three chords, easy peasy’
Al: One song has got four chords in it though
Jay: Ooooh four chords
Frazer: You’ll get done for that!
Al: It was a natural development, a situation occurred and we needed another string man on guitar, next thing Frazer is in the room. It wasn’t something that we sat down and planned. Frazer’s here because he’s meant to be here!
So we have Frazer and guys like Frazer, stepping up really interested in joining the band and experienced musicians like we’ve already got who travel from Edinburgh twice a week (Fi and Jay) that come to rehearsals, that’s a powerful thing!
We’ve got three members of family in the band. Jay and Fiona (Fi) are partners they might as well be married and Josie is Fiona’s daughter!
Jay: This is the first band Josie’s ever been in. We brought her along to a recording we were doing and she wasn’t involved.
Fi:She had never sang in front of anyone in her life before and we said to Al she can sing! Al goes, can she? Right, he put a mic in front of her and went, ‘Sing!’
Al: Fair f*ck to her she could sing!
Fi: She went from having never sung in front of anyone before in her life to recording with us and being at her first band practise two days later and doing her first gig at a festival 10 days later.
Frazer: One month of…
Jay: Baptism of fire! And now we cannae get her off the stage!
Fi: That’s how we got involved, although Jay and I are partners; we all work on a stage at Knockengorroch. Jay and I run the stage and Al came in five years ago as the sound guy and fell in love with it all so that’s how we all got involved you know.
They love what they do so much, sometimes not wanting to stop…
Fi: So we were playing this year at Knockengorroch and went a wee bit crazy and started jamming at 4 o’clock in the morning. Nobody in that tent and on that stage wanted to go anywhere so we just kept playing. It poured all night; there was no leaving so we just kept playing! At 8.20 in the morning, we went up to Al and said, “I think it’s time we stopped!!” We just jammed solid for about four and a half hours!
Al: I played blues music, all the time, and blues rock music! People I worked with at the Wickerman festival said: “Listen we’ve got a gig happening in Dumfries you need to go see this”, and I was like: “You want me to do the sound that’s no problem”. Small system, small tent for four days, thinking what’s the worst that can happen?! I got off at Knocky (Knockengorroch) at the grounds of the farm and I’m like man this is a different place. You’ve gotta drive half an hour to forty minutes to get to the actual tiny little venue!
Fi: It’s five miles north
Al: It’s bananas, It’s such a beautiful place and I remember feeling 24 hours into this, something is happening to me here, musically. I was standing watching these different roots musicians playing and understanding yeah I do like roots music and I play blues but that’s not really who I am. I would like to be more, I would like to expand, in my musical talent,my musical knowledge and watching these guys play, one of the greatest things they ever did and this is how this band started. One of the greatest things was, people on stage would be like ‘Dude, bring your clarinet!’
Jay: ‘Come on up!’
Al: ‘Can you mic this boy up so he’s not running about?’
Fi: It’s the ethos of the stage
Al: So then you’re going man! The next thing this clarinet player from some other band is jamming with the band on stage. Everyone is having a great time and everybody knows what’s happening. I’m standing watching these guys going…that’s not f*cking blues! That’s not 1357 what’s going on with these guys?! It’s like they know everything, for a moment I was like, ‘f*ck man!’
I wrote a song called ‘Young Brother’, it came to me, I’m very fortunate to have this song in my life, and it’s a beautiful folk song. It’s about the feeling that I got in Knocky. The feeling of togetherness, musical togetherness and being able to reach out and touch the musician next to you and go: “Do you know what this one’s in G”, and just start playing, that was a new thing for me. The main scene is f*cking, so cut throat and it’s f*cking, people are out for themselves, people think, you know, that popular culture is the be all and end all. That’s not the case for me as I’ve learned over the years.
What I thought once is not what I think now. Knockengorroch was the trigger for me and I watched a band called Captain Slackship that played a song, it was in D minor and it was a Dub Reggae feeling, D minor with lots of effects. I was doing the sound and I looked about, the tent was full, in the middle of the night in this place and everybody was just there, you know, in that moment in that place. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever felt. It was better than any blues song I’ve ever played in my life. I went home and I thought about it and I just kinda hoped that one day you know what, I wanna be like these guys, it was simple so I wrote Young Brother, folk song. Because that was what I did, I wrote folk songs, blues and blues songs but the band went from that and we developed into what we are and that’s how it started.
You look like you really enjoy yourselves on stage!
However, if you could jam with any other artist, who would it be?
Fi: They’re all dead! *laughing*
Jay: I’ve played with The Skatalites, The Godfather of Ska. I’ve played with The Specials (most of them) and I’ve played with Toots and Maytals, Toots and Laurel were my heroes. That was it for me but if we could ever play with somebody up to date it would be Radiohead. I don’t know if we’d ever be on the same bill as them!
Al: If we do a Radiodread style set, for me personally, Fat Freddy’s Drop. You must get yourself involved!
Fi: They’re our kind of band, great at live gigs, they play everything completely different.
Al: They are exactly the same as what we are.
Jay: A New Zealand band and they’re just crazy, they really enjoy themselves.
Fi: A six minute song becomes fifteen minutes long.
Jay: We would not just support them; we would get on stage with them!
Al: One of the biggest things about where we are is, we cover a wide age range and we cover a wide style range. It was at points a wider style range; we had some blue grass and some other things happening. The band itself is developing into a genre which I feel is kinda dub reggae ska type music, we play some funk. We played blues stuff but we ditched all the blues stuff so it’s developing at its own pace, in its own time and do you know what? The band is in charge, not any of the individuals. The music is in charge. We are very fortunate, we’re just hopeful for plenty of gigs and plenty of things to happen for us.
Would you ever consider playing in someone’s living room?
Al: We’ll play anywhere man! Anywhere you can fit us in we’ll play. Of course
Frazer: Just fit us round the TV!
Al: We’re going to Morocco for a month in February, gonna do some Guerrilla stuff, we’re gonna be doing some writing, some practising, gonna take our acoustic instruments and we’re gonna bombard Morocco with some white reggae!
Jay: Running round bars going, giz a drink!
Al: I’ll play for 10 minutes, you give me a drink!
Fi: You let us play inside for half an hour, we’ll stop playing outside! *bursts of laughter*
Al: The music’s in charge!
Frazer: One full month in Morocco
Fi: Got a gig on 29th March for Audio Soup
Al: We’re back four days and we’ve got a gig! Audio Soup Equinox Party
Frazer: Always think it’s a good time to learn now that you have a gig.
Al: It’s a great thing to know you’re away for a month and then you’ve got a gig!
Fi: The Equinox party, this year will be its third year running. It’s a big barn party, an indoor festival because it’s too cold outside. First festival of the season, that’s the one we’re coming back from Morocco for.*
Okay so what’s been your best performance or best gig to date?
Al: Something changed at Kelburn
Al: This whole chaotic element to what we do was always there but bubbling under the surface. We were all very structured, doing what we do and then something happened. On stage it was a case of: ‘What we playing next?’ I just was in one of ma moods I think and was just like ‘I dunno what we’re playing next?’
So somebody picked, all of a sudden there was this thing where everybody was involved. Even though we always did it musically in between songs, all of a sudden outside of songs people had a say on what was happening on stage it wasn’t a set list, it was a discussion. Like tonight it was like:
‘I don’t want to do that’.
‘Well he’s picked it and the majority rules!!’ *laughs*
Something happened I remember standing on stage taking about missiles going: “Auch I wanna play missiles” and chat, chat chat and then you go f*ck there are people here!
“Sorry, we’re gonna play you a song – honest!”
I think that’s when we kinda embraced the element of chaos within who we are. There’s something beautiful about, you don’t know what’s gonna happen next. Generally, you can only really do things like that with the right musicians. I’ve been in a lot of bands and it doesn’t f*cking happen all the time man. You can’t just step into a band and feel as comfortable as we all feel and do the things that we do.
And even f*ck up on stage royally and then be able to go: ‘oh okay’
That’s pretty cool
Al: Coolest band, with other bands as soon as you make a mistake…
Jay: Everybody stops!!
So can I ask…what is your favourite track?
Al: What is our favourite track?
Jay: That’s a hard one!
Frazer: Oh it’s The Detective for me! It’s the reason I joined the band! Last year I was sitting with a broken ankle, I had to go to the hospital that night, I was at the gig and had to go to hospital right after it. I said: ‘No, I will endure the pain of this broken ankle to get to the end of their set!’
Then they played the detective twice once at the beginning and at the end
Al: We played the same riff of The Detective for nearly 25 minutes, it’s sick!
Frazer: Was that how long I was in pain for?!
Al: It was wrong man! It’s interesting with Frazer; he is a multi-instrumentalist, talented musician. To use the word virtuoso when he’s sitting here is a bit strong. Along with others, Frazer as an example had to wait a long time to join this band.
Frazer is also in a couple of other bands, what other bands do you listen to?
Al: We’re really big on who we know. Again we’re not in charge; there are bands that are associated to us that other people play in… We’re very big with them man! We’re big with Victorian Trout Conspiracy, Sea Bass Kid, New Urban Frontier, Big Fat Panda
Fi: John Langan
Frazer: Mickey 9s!
Jay: Mickey 9s, who were playing tonight, that’s the first time I saw them and they’re f*cking brilliant!
Fi: Alba Roma
Al: Alba Roma!!
Jay: Great Band
Al: We’re very big on wavelength, and people on the same wavelength you know.
Like you can offer bands gigs and play at everything else, you know you get on well, gig goes great and everything’s brilliant!
With anything in life, you get a connection with someone you cannae take it away, especially musically, like the boy from the Big United and the lead from Mickey 9s – Dougie, he’s hooked. I’ve only seen them twice and he likes what we do, he likes the attitude of what we do, he likes the idea of what we do and that’s it.
He’s a great musician in a great band and you know what? The music is in control! We’re no in charge of this! We can only organise gigs.
Fi: When you’re involved in the live music scene you’re constantly seeing bands you’ve never heard of and there are so many fantastic bands. There are lots of good bands and there are a percentage of exceptional bands, you find yourself at a gig or festival and you walk round the corner and you think: ‘Oh my gawd who are these guys?!’ You know what I mean and its people you’ve never heard of before and didn’t know existed.
Do you just go up to them and say: ‘Fancy playing with us sometime?!’
Fi: Well yea
Jay: Now is a good time to tell you I’ve invited Ella from the New Urban Frontiers to come and sing with us for a couple of songs
Fi: Aah nice one
Fi: We were playing a gig in Edinburgh last month we saw the New Urban Frontiers playing at that as we saw them at Kelburn.
I went straight up to Ella and said we’re putting a night on in Edinburgh in November, will you guys play?
What about rehearsals, ever rehearse on the road?
Al: We rehearse at gigs and we kinda just roll like that
Frazer: In Kelburn we rehearsed, unplugged, behind the stage in what I think was an old train station/museum.
Al: We’ve been on holiday and haven’t been together for 10 days/2 weeks and so we had a rehearsal this afternoon, so aye.
Fi: If we had the money for a van bus and a driver then we would rehearse on the road
Al: Yea I think it’s about a level of existence, if we had the finance to do things exactly the way we wanted to do them we would. We work with what we’ve got and we’re very thankful with the space time continuum, physically where you are, that thing, that’s really important.
If we had a million pound budget you bet you’re a** I’d be playing and rehearsing every single day and all that stuff but we don’t, we work with what we’ve got! We’re thankful for what we’ve got
Fi: We have to work day jobs, got to commute from Edinburgh and then you think, f*ck I’ve got to get to practice, but soon as you get in the room you don’t want to leave. You want to stay there forever. You go and you’re absolutely knackered and you’re like: ‘I’m too tired for this, I can’t do this’, but as soon as you’re in the room that all goes away cos you’re totally energised.
Frazer: We’re planning to hibernate so we can write and record
Al: We’re only off for about 6/7 weeks till we go to Morocco and then come back
Fi: Focus on writing
Al: More of the same, the band changed a few months ago so more development of this line up
Have you discussed the next 3-5 years at all?
Al: What we’re talking about at the moment is what we need to compete in the modern market for festivals. We need press passes and all those things.
We’re dragging our feet, because it’s not really about that for us, it’s about that thing that we’ve all got but we need to be part of the scene and different scenes. The development of ourselves is fundamental to what gigs we play, the bigger gigs we play, the better we get the more experience we get with a wider range of scenarios and that’s pretty important. We’re expecting nothing.
Fi: I just want to spend the winter touring in pub places and the summer doing festivals in Britain!
Al: Yea sunshine!
Fi: Following the sunshine!
What’s your advice for people thinking of starting up a band?
Fi: Have fun
Frazer: Don’t take it too seriously
Jay: Enjoy it!
A few lyrics from your favourite song/s:
Al: ‘It’s not about how it looks it’s about how it sounds’
Frazer, Jay and Al:
‘We’ve all got common sense in give love, breed strength and confidence, give love, give love’
Fi: And of course
‘Living in the sunshine’
Al: ‘Standing on the beach in the sunshine do you feel small? But that doesn’t mean that your life means nothing at all cos you can make a change if you change yourself’
Fi: ‘Living in the sunshine, you can make the change!’
Oh wow, well I know P.O.S.B. can also stand for Part of Something Beautiful too, it definitely was a pleasure!
After their live performance I became increasingly fascinated with their work. Al’s voice is powerful, dynamic with a gritty edge and Josie’s tender, smooth tones are simply breath-taking! As for the rest of the band just…wow! The band is exquisitely multi-talented, full of some of the best musicians I’ve come across. What a revelation indeed. I was lucky enough to listen to some compelling songs including The Guy, Fever, 4 letter word, Farady Cages and found a few new favourites in Chimps Tea Party, Howard Beale (the crowd loved the so called ‘mood killer’) and I thoroughly enjoyed The Detective too. The band have a clear message to spread to the world, I think it will be about making changes and radically improving the conditions and society that we live in, I believe this is what is so brilliant about this band, they are not just musicians, they stand for more than that and their stage presence is rhythm and harmony personified.
Not only does the band experiment on stage, they exchange banter, make you laugh, involve you, encourage each other and have fun. They are sensational to watch, the crowd loved it, leaving us hungry for more! This is a band in total control of their art, even if they do say that the music is in control.
It was an invigorating interview; I was intrigued by their story. I understood their commitment and determination to excel collectively not competitively. The members are cool, yet passionate about their work, and they draw you in because you can feel their work has heart and a whole lot of soul. I also believe their musical style is revolutionary, edgy and that they have the energy and enthusiasm to back it.
As long as their tale continues, I see success written in their future. After all there can only be one The Post Orgasmic Sunshine Band.
Go along and see them next perform at:
The Citrus Club in Edinburgh on 2nd March and
Audio Soup Equinox Party on 29th March from 2pm
For more information, updates and events please visit:
*Information was correct at time of interview; however, The Post Orgasmic Sunshine Band have announced an earlier gig at The Citrus Club, Edinburgh (2nd March, as above).