Monday, June 18, 2012

The Bamboos

LANCE FERGUSON, Leader of THE BAMBOOS, talks to RACHEL BARNES about breaking free from the restraints of genre pigeonholing.

11 years have passed since Lance Ferguson formed The Bamboos, with no idea at the time that a decade later the band would be receiving the level of recognition it currently enjoys. Sick of just being a member of everyone else’s band, Ferguson decided to take the reins, and under Ferguson’s leadership, The Bamboos have become an extension of his body – evolving and growing as he does.

“Things have developed organically along the way and certainly 11 years ago I was with three of my good friends who happened to be great musicians and we were thinking ‘let’s put a band together’. The music was so different and the line-up of the band was so different that I must say that I didn’t have any idea that we’d even still be together at this point,” Ferguson laughs, “but I’m glad we are.”

Though the band was heavily influenced in its early years by the funk of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, with each album their music steps more into its own. “The music that we make has changed so much,” Ferguson says. “Our roots are still coming from that, area but I have been very conscious of trying to break out of The Bamboos being stuck in any sort of genre-based thing.”

This is especially true of the band’s latest release, Medicine Man, which is filled with all the colour of their funk roots and so much more besides. Ferguson spent two-thirds of 2011 writing and producing the album and you can definitely hear that in the result. “My main motivation is to make each album not only better, but also really different ,so I think we’ve achieved that,” he says. The album contains collaborations with the likes of Tim Rogers, Megan Washington and Daniel Merriweather, who each compliment Ferguson as if they had been working together for years, despite some of the writing being finished in the studio. “It forces you to make decisions very quick,” Ferguson laughs.

If you’re lucky, you may get to hear some of these collaborations live. “My management reckon that I can’t really speak about that because it’s meant to be secret,” he laughs, “but I can confirm that there will be some very special guests on certain shows in the tour.”

The now 10-strong line-up had already been playing a few of the new songs live prior to Medicine Man’s release, but they are yet to play them to people now familiar with the new record. Ferguson is excited to finally see the reaction to them. “When we made the record it definitely wasn’t a case of the band being fully set up live and playing in the room together. It was very much a produced wall of sound with many layers,” he says. “We don’t necessarily try and replicate that live, it’s a bit rawer and it’s slightly more stripped down.”

The Bamboos will be taking their tour over to Europe in September and Ferguson isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. “As long as I can feel inspired about the project I will never stop making Bamboos records. Unless I’m struck by lightning of something.”

THE BAMBOOS play Byron’s Great Northern on Thursday Jun 28, the Coolum Civic Centre on Friday Jun 29 and The Hi-Fi on Saturday Jun 30. MEDICINE MAN is out now through