Opening for The Beach Boys has got to be a career highlight. Just ask London band Hey Negrita. Following their recent appearances at Glastonbury and SXSW in Texas, they opened for the band in Germany. They’re busy boys off stage too; their double A-side ‘Room Service/The Last Thing That I Do’ is out on September 29th. Their third album ‘You Can Kick’ is already upon us and they’re smack bang in the middle of a UK tour.
The guys took a break from life on the road and answered some questions for yours truly.
This summer, you have played some huge gigs – you did Besrtival, Latitude, Glastonbury and SXSW. How do American festivals differ from the English ones?
The Americans have always accepted us quicker than the Brits. The SXSW Festival in Texas proved that again this year. The fact that we were in the music documentary WE DREAMED AMERICA, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival made the whole thing even more exciting. The boys were pretty surprised to find themselves getting stopped in the street so that people could have their pictures taken with them.
That said, the UK festivals were fantastic this year as well.
Which was your favourite festival?
Glastonbury and Bestival were real mud-fests but we were pretty lucky with the rest. Cambridge Folk Festival, End Of The Road, Latitude and Larmer Tree were really special but the best festival by far was SXSW. 5 gigs in 4 days, 3 TV interviews and a bunch of radio and press stuff, cues around the block, cold beer and pretty girls. What more could you ask for?
Do you have any festival horror stories from this year? I know we certainly have a few.
Yes but none that you would want to print.
What was it like opening for The Beach Boys in Germany?
We were very honoured to be invited to do the gig. It was an incredible experience but once you get on stage you forget about who’s on after you, as you have to really concentrate on winning over the crowd.
Do you prefer playing these huge gigs or do you like playing at intimate venues?
When you get on stage in front of a large crowd at a festival you never know what they’re going to make of you. It’s our job to go nuts and take as many of them with us as we can. It can be a challenge as they’re not there specifically to see you. The indoor shows tend to be more in your face and they also have their plus points, like dressing rooms and fridges full of beer. All in all I think we still prefer the festivals.
If you could open a show for anyone in the history of music, who would it be?
THE ROLLING STONES ca 1973.
September 29th sees the release of Room Service/The Last Thing I Do. What would you like to be the last thing you do?
I would like to indulge in sexual congress with a number of my lady friends with a cold beer in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other whilst discussing the merits of Mezz Mezzro’s ‘Really The Blues’ on the speaker phone with Keith Richards.
You Can Kick has just been released. Have you had any fan feed back on it yet?
Some say that it’s a grower but on the whole people have said that it’s their favourite album we’ve done so far.
A lot of the songs were written while you were on tour. Is it easier to write while on tour more than when you are at home? What are the best situations to find inspiration in?
I tend to find it easiest to write when I’m at home nursing a hangover. When you spend three months on tour you get a lot of stories and inspiration together but I usually pull it all together when I’m back at home.
Lou Reed, Cash and The Rolling Stones are said to be your influences. Is there anything contemporary that has taken your fancy?
British artists like The Broken Family Band and Tom McRae have also influenced our songwriting a lot. Alabama 3 are our mentors and metre d’s. Larry Love is one of the finest front men in the UK today and has really looked after us when we’ve played together. We also play regular gigs with The Barker Band and Kitty Daisy and Lewis. They’re both incredibly talented and some of the nicest people we have met in a long time. There is a real sense of community amongst the new British Roots bands, we try to help each other out and we drink together when we’re not gigging.
You have a bunch of UK tour dates scheduled, which city are you most looking forward to playing at?
We can’t wait to get back to Guildford as I went to school there. We are also very excited about Manchester and Bath as they’re always great gigs.
What do you guys like to do after a gig? How do you tend to channel the excess adrenaline after a gig; by going out or chilling out back in the tour van?
I know it’s a cliché but beer tends to be at the top of the agenda. The other boys are married and have taken to complimenting their beer with cross words and mind games whereas I like to have a look around to see what trouble I can get into with the locals.
What do you hope the future has in store for Hey Negrita?
Our immediate ambition is to survive this tour with our livers in tact. After that the race is on to record a new album before heading back out to the States and then to Europe. We are incredibly lucky to be allowed to play all over the world. Getting paid makes the whole thing even sweeter. We aren’t chasing fame and platinum album sales but we are keen to get our music out to more and more people and to get out there and tour as much as we can.
What is the most memorable gig that you have been to as a fan?
It’s really hard to say. I loved the Stones in 1996 and I loved Old Crow Medicine Show at The Borderline two years ago. Grant Lee Phillips’ solo gig at SXSW in 2005 reduced me to tears. Oh…The Pixies were amazing as well.
Album: You Can Kick – Release Date: September 8th
Single: Room Service/The Last Thing That I Do – Release Date: September 29th
Tour: September 16th – October 4th