Interview with UK reggae band HASSLE
UK reggae band HASSLE was born in 2002.
Since then they have supported such reggae greats as JAH SHAKA, TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS, ALTON ELLIS, BOB ANDY, MACKA B and PAMA INTERNATIONAL playing pubs, theatres, and live festivals all over the UK and Europe.
HASSLE are influenced from the reggae sound of the seventies, aiming for a more warm, pure, and earthy sound, something often lacking in modern music.
Influences such as LEE SCRATCH PERRY,BOB MARLEY, AUGUSTUS PABLO and KING TUBBY have helped inspire this, as well as our own backgrounds and culture.
The HASSLE sound combines a mix of lover’s rock, dub, conscious lyrics about the world today, and the beauty and power of nature.
Tell us about your band.
We are a UK reggae act from Newcastle Upon Tyne, we’ve been going since 2002. The band is myself as the singer/songwriter plus various instruments, Tony on guitars, backing vocals and also does out artwork and web site design. We also have Dave on guitars
And the history of the band.
We’ve been fortunate enough and blessed to have supported Toots and the Maytals (twice) Alton Ellis, Bob Andy, Jah Shaka, Macka B, and Pama international, we also acoustically supported Tom Hingley (Inspiral Carpets) Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) Mark Morris (The Bluestones) and Detroit Social Club. Further afield we’ve also played abroad at reggae festivals. On the releases front, we had two albums and a couple of ep’s through a French reggae label as well as tracks appearing on two reggae compilations.
What inspired you to become a musician.
Singing runs through my family. As a kid my family tried to talk me out of being an artist because they knew what a shithouse of an industry it is. However, as always I was too head strong and fought against it which kind of made me even more determined. The power of music to me is so strong it’s all I thought about. Apart from being obsessed with playing football as well as music I see them as escapism from life and nothing has changed the power of melody, the pull of a good groove is still so appealing and moves me
What artists do you like.
The 70s classics really, The Wailers, Lee Scratch Perry, Augustus Pablo and King Tubby. I also dug Blues artists like, Lightning Hopkins, Scrapper Blackwell, Bo Diddley and Howlin Wolf . Other artists I like are Captain Beefheart, Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene. The band that’s music actually has the biggest physical reaction on me which is not reggae is The La’s. Listen to the kitchen tapes for example, it is unreal, the melodies and grooves are just ridiculous, Lee Mavers is the man I could talk about them all day long
How did you get your name.
We got our name by me miss hearing someone saying the original name which was Castle (short for Newcastle) and I thought that sounded much better. Back then everything seemed to be a complete an utter ‘hassle’. So, as we hadn’t settled fully on a name we went with Hassle instead
Your new new EP, Make Ya Mouth Run is out 6th December, tell us about it.
Make Ya Mouth Run is an amazing thing Lewis Griffiths picked up on. That track was always a favourite of his. I’d get texts from him saying the office has got ‘Make Ya Mouth Run’ on full blast and they’re loving it. He then asked if we wanted to put it out via his label and also asked if I’d be up for doing a remix version of one of the Tubby tracks, they’d released. As soon as I picked and peeled myself off the ceiling with excitement, I chose Ash Oil from the Lost Dubs and it was an absolute honour. I’ve added some sparse vocals/melodica, some percussion and effects. I tried to respectfully enhance it rather than try too much to stamp Hassle all over it. As it is now, within hours of ‘Make Ya Mouth Run’ landing on iTunes it went straight in as number 1 bestselling pre order in the Reggae Charts. Amazing, man!
Who are your favourite producers.
Lee Scratch Perry. Working with limitation studio gear he has to be my favourite. Those limitations actually helped and made the mind more creative. Also King Tubby, he was an electrician and would take gear apart and re wire it and change the sound. They weren’t stopping to check their twitter or put a bet on online, whilst emailing Amazon, they were just living and breathing there art. On current producers it has to be Brendan Lynch.
How do you think reggae music has changed compared to the current scene
I’m not arsed, it’s not for me now, it doesn’t appeal but there is so much vintage unheard reggae and blues it doesn’t matter. I don’t like digital modern, bling gangsta shite. There’s loads of old music that’s new to me and inspiring, so I’m sound man.
What do you think of social media and music
It’s all complete and utter rubbish but that’s the modern world we live in. On one hand it gives you a voice and window to promote yourself but on the hand you’re crowded out buy a million other artists. It’s not about who’s got the best songs, it’s who’s got the skills to write, record, build a web site, using social media to its full potential and then run it all. Then there’s someone who sits with one instrument being obsessed, writing songs and has amazing tunes but has no idea at all how to get it out to the public.
What’s in the future for the band
Well, we have the EP coming out Dec 6 with Griffiths Records, that then will be followed up by a rereleased and remastered version of our first two albums on Slowglass Sound. We’ll then fix up a date for our new material to be released, off the back of that we will be lining up gigs.