17th Dec 2012 12:58am | By Hugh Radojev
Daniel Weetman of The Black Seeds spoke to us about the importance of compromise in music, playing Peats Ridge Festival again and the band’s latest album Dust and Dirt.
What was the inspiration behind the band’s name?
Originally, it was our first bass player who came up with the name. I have never really liked the name, always wanted to change it, and obviously that didn’t happen. He had this idea that all sort of “seeds” come from Africa and we’re all connected in some way as humans and citizens of the Earth. That kind of made sense to him and the name stuck. But now I think the music speaks more than the name.
So when did you join the band, Daniel?
That would have been about 1999.
For someone who’s never listened, how would you describe your band’s music?
You get asked the question so many times and I think I always sort of come up with different answers but it’s bass heavy, definitely got reggae and funk elements in there. A Pacific sort of flavour, what with us being from New Zealand. I guess, though, we just try and write good music.
Speaking of the writing process, how does that work with eight in the band?
There used to be eight a few years ago, now there are six of us.
It must still be difficult when you all come together to write a song?
The last album, Dust and Dirt everybody had a hand in writing the songs with individual ideas. We also did a lot of jamming together. Sometimes it is hard, because we listen to different kinds of music and bring different ideas to the table but we usually meet somewhere in the middle, which is good. Yeah, so you can have half the band trying to go down one way and the other half trying to go another way, so a lot of compromising goes on but it’s good to have those challenges when writing. You have to learn to compromise and something else, something you never thought of at first can come out of compromising.
Dust and Dirt represents a four year space since your last record, why the gap?
We were just touring so much, we went to Europe a number of times, three times in the last 18 months or so alone and we also spent quite a bit of time touring in the US. We tried to break into that European market and still are I guess, so yeah just lots of touring. In that time though we did release a live album and a remix album as well, so we’ve tried to fill in the gaps with stuff like that. Time just sort of flies when you’re busy I guess.
How do you think the new album holds up to your other four albums?
I think in the earlier albums less people contributed to the writing, which is plain. As we’ve grown up and got more comfortable with what we do we’ve all began to contribute more to the music. Probably from Into the Dojo, with a new rhythm section the musicianship’s’ probably stepped up. All those things that challenge you are exciting, so hopefully the next album is a progression, it’s hard to say it definitely will be, but we’ll see where we get.
Can you still sit down and relate to the first few albums content?
Yeah, I think they still stand up to a listen though, there’s a kind of refreshing naivety about it, where you don’t really exactly know where you’re going with it, which is great.
Have The Black Seeds considering relocating to Europe or the States?
Yeah, we thought about that probably three years ago. Now a couple more babies have come along since then, so that kind of plans gone out the window really. I would have loved to have done that and would love to take my son on tour, but some have two kids and don’t want to relocate their family and that’s fair enough. Fact of it is though we’ve got to get to Europe at least twice a year and that means you don’t see your family as much as you’d like. It’s really hard.
Played Peats Ridge before?
Yeah, few years ago now. 2008 or something now. It’s good fun and great to be able to fit that in. We’ll pretty much just fly in, play the gig, back to the hotel for a nap then fly back to New Zealand. We want to come back to Australia more, hopefully more in the new year.
Catch The Black Seeds playing at the Peats Ridge Festival (peatsridge.com.au) 29 Dec – 1 Jan and also look out for their new album Dust and Dirt out now on Easy Star Records.