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TURRENTINE JONES: BRINGING BLUES BACK TO LIFE - INTERVIEW BY NIGEL CARTNER

 
Comprising of a multi-national heritage landing in Manchester, 3 piece blues orientated band, ‘Turrentine Jones’ are one of the most polished blues bands we’ve seen for some time. Fresh from the release of debut single, ‘Slam the Door’ back in February, they’re now ready to push the 2nd single with a rigorous radio campaign over the coming weeks to extend their fan base. With a sound that’s predominately associated with the 50s and 60s, their influences have inspired them to amalgamate the many core factors of diverse blues and present it in a re-modernised and refreshing way that sounds original, charismatic and stimulates nostalgia from the origins of music as we know it.

With a simmering snake like swirling of the organ and a smooth yet howling vocal reminiscent of Lou Reed, the sound and style takes us on a weird psychedelic trip that blends 60s British blues with the great blues phenomenon that occurred in Mississippi. However, with cool, tenacious guitar playing, firing licks that strikes the soul perfectly, and drums that are thunderously beaten, the sound takes a turn, hauling into a different era of the late 60s and 70s southern bluesy rock genre. Combine these factors and what you’re left with is a band that single handedly captures all the essentials of superior blues music, revitalised to resurrect it from its origins. Playing at Ruby Lounge, Manchester, I caught up with lead singer/guitarist, Julian Neville, organ player, Thomas Scotson and drummer Chris Carcamo, but not before witnessing their short set, which had the audience dishing out cheers and applause in overwhelming appreciation after their final song, showing that these guys are capturing the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to hear them.

NIGE: Can you tell us a little about the radio campaign you’ve recently signed?

JULIAN: Well the aim is to get the 2nd single,‘Candy Snake’ on the air a little bit more. ‘Slam The Door’ did quite well on its own. We did a music video for that which went a long way. ‘Candy Snake’ is the B-side to that and we felt it didn’t get as much attention as we wanted, so this campaign is based on that. It’ll go on for 12 weeks and by that stage we’ll be back in the studio.

NIGE: You did reach no. 13 in the Australian music charts with ‘Slam The Door’? How did that happen?

JULIAN: I don’t have that big a family back in Australia! Haha. We planned to hit the ground pretty hard by doing the video and involve as many people as we could in the video itself as a marketing tool really. We got a lot of support from radio stations and it just kept going from there.

NIGE: You have an affiliation and orientation to blues music, what is it about blues that’s so special and why did you decide to go down that route?

THOMAS: That’s where rock n roll started. We’re all into it and influenced by it but there’s much more to it with other influences.

JULIAN: Traditionally an organ isn’t used in blues. The three piece scene gives us a lot of freedom. I don’t think a bass player would work as we’d be restricted. The organ makes us think more and fill the space. We didn’t just think we want to be a three piece, it naturally progressed to that.

NIGE: What do you think about the blues scene at the moment? It’s something which disappeared for a while but is starting to come back with the bluesy rock bands that are making an impact.

THOMAS: I think it’s coming back and going that way with the success of ‘Black Keys’ and ‘Kings of Leon’ where that live sound is appreciated again.

JULIAN: The live sound of blues means you can get away with busting a string and screaming into the mic. As a pop artist you can’t get away with that shit.

CHRIS: So much of the same pop stuff goes around but a different band coming out sounds fresh and you can get that understanding from the crowd. Us coming along is fresh I think.

JULIAN: You saw that tonight from the second song when people pulled in. That’s what it’s kind of been like for us, especially since the video where things have slightly changed in our lives with a few more people coming to shows. It’s certainly building and this is the part we’re enjoying. Who knows where we’ll be, but things can move along pretty fuckin’ quickly and all of a sudden you can be in a different place. These type of places (Ruby Lounge) are cool and that’s what’s good about blues, it sounds great in these places.

NIGE: Who from that era of blues are the biggest influences?

CHRIS: When I first started playing properly I got into 60s music like, ‘Cream’ and ‘Doors’, all the usual ones.

THOMAS: My influences are more from jazz and blues of that era.

JULIAN: Similar really but with elements of soul. ‘Rufus Thomas’ and ‘The Animals’. I’d say the main ones over the last ten years are ‘The Music Machine’. He didn’t have a great voice but it suited that sound.

NIGE: Julian, you’re originally from Australia, what made you move to England, and why Manchester?

JULIAN: I think the passion for the music, and that the music is so diverse. When the media get behind an artist they push it as far as they can go and create a real buzz. When someone’s just on the cusp of breaking then there’s a real support and market. If you look at the history of music the ‘British Invasion’ is known worldwide. Australia has had its artists in the past but they’ve all made it in The UK or America first.

The distance of travelling between gigs is very different here. I’ve had to travel sixteen hours through the desert just to get to the next gig back home. I didn’t factor that into the move, it was more about the music culture. You still get exacerbated by a lot of bull shit on the radio but that’s where the labels make their money with quick releases, single, money, single, money, accommodating 16 year old girls. Everybody is waiting for something to change and that’s the beauty about England.

NIGE: You played with some big names in Australia, namely Mark Knopfler and Colin Hay. Who are the biggest names you’ve supported in the UK?

JULIAN:  We’ve played the same stage at festivals with ‘The Fall’, ‘Sunshine Underground’ and ‘Badly Drawn Boy’. We’ve done a lot on our own really, trying to establish our own base.

NIGE: Do you have any plans for a full album?

JULIAN: I think the way the market is today we’re planning to release three singles in the next 12 months and naturally put all those singles together to release it as ‘the singles’! Unless you’re very well established a lot of tracks on your album can go missing. They can be good but may not work with the order of the album. We’re hoping to shoot a few more videos and go on tour then back into the studio. The plan for September is to go back to the studio and record three singles together so you’ve got that natural sound for all three and drop one every few months.

NIGE: Are there any plans for touring?

CHRIS: Once the singles are laid out then the plan is to get out and promote them by touring. We’ve got the Manchester shows booked till February so we can work around those and lay the foundations. We’ve got a good few connections in other cities so when the new material is done we’ll look into that.

NIGE: Finally, what’s the message that the band brings which sums up your whole ether?

JULIAN: Have Fun!

THOMAS: We don’t always look like we are! We’re all playing stuff that we want to play. I don’t know if that’s a message but I think that’s what we’re about, playing what we like and I’m sure all bands do the same.

CHRIS: I think the main goal is getting people converted from Rihanna to us!

NIGE: That sums it up nicely for me!

Upcoming Shows

Sept 7th – Night & Day, Manchester
Oct 13th– The Attic, Manchester
Feb 7th  – Manchester 235 Casino, Manchester

http://www.facebook.com/turrentine.jones.3/info
http://www.turrentinejones.co.uk

Interview by Nigel Cartner
Photos by Katie Dervin