11:00 AM GMT 29/10/2012
Having released two superb albums of jazzy, scat-laden, r&b workouts with his fellow Liverpudlian musos The Joneses, Edgar Jones is set to spend 2008 readying himself for record number three. In the meantime, there’s the small matter of his new side project. Now billed as Edgar Jones & Friends, his latest collection, The Masked Marauder, contains all the hallmarks of Jones' previous output – intricate rhythms, precision playing, extended instrumentals and guttural croons, But Marauder sees Jones adding a new dimension of electro-freakout cool to his fug of valve-humming grooves. With a hotly anticipated show at the London’s Jazz Café looming at the end of February, MOJO thought it was about time to catch up with the multi-instrumentalist master to find out why Daft Punk have crept onto his radar, how he gets those sounds and what makes him go bleuuurh!
Tell me a bit about how The Masked Marauder came together?
Well, it was something I’d planned to do for about two years. The band (The Joneses) were away over the summer and so it seemed like the ideal time to get going. The Masked Marauder is a very off the wall thing for me. Usually I work within the jazz, rhythm and blues and soul areas. This record does reach into those territories, but in a very sneaky way.
The album is far more beat-based than your previous records. Did you use your trusty eight-track as usual, or did you have to decamp to a larger studio?
It was actually all recorded on the usual, basic setup. I used the eight track that I done most of the other two albums on, but I suppose there was a bit more track bouncing this time around. I did use the silly parametric EQ settings on the machine and there was a lot of playing around with a Watkins Copycat. And, of course, for the drums we used the old Korg Mini Pops. Apart from all that, it was just a case of being brave with a few effects pedals! It’s just the way I like to work.
When you look back over your last three albums, do you think there are certain records or sounds you heard at the time that had a significant impact on the songs you went on to record?
Well with Soothing Music For Stray Cats, I was definitely trying to get that dark feel of Charles Mingus across, but in a rhythm and blues setting. Then with Getting A Little Help..., I had the band together, so it was very much a case of trying to capture the live sound on record. With this latest LP, I remember hearing some of James Lavelle’s tunes and picking up a few bits from Daft Punk. Actually, there’s always been something about Daft Punk’s soundscape that makes me go bleuurh! - even though I like what they’re doing. I think it was growing up in the ’80s and hearing all those horrible synthesisers.
Havng spent years playing in bands like the The Stairs and The La's, was there a moment when you realised you were destined to play the music you're making today?
It all started with the first album. The making of that record was a happy accident really. We had a band on the go that was very much in the mould of Sly And The Family Stone and Dr John. I was being a silly boy and chasing a major label deal, which was stupid because I didn’t like anything on those labels and I still expected them to like me. But when I was younger I was signed up with The Stairs, so I guess I thought that was the way to go. So, Soothing Music... was just something to do over the summer while Rob, the keyboard player, had acute tendonitis. Then I passed Paul from Viper [Records] a tape and he asked if I wanted to put together an album. At that point I'd been in four bands and hadn’t released anything in 10 years.
People always talk about what a great sound you manage to get on records. What’s your sonic secret?
One of the best things I picked up from Lee Mavers, one of his ‘Mavers-isms’, was to not go crazy on the overdubs and basically make sure you’ve got five or six parts that really work. I mean, the late Hendrix stuff like Cry Of Love is great, but he was an absolute master of his craft. If you’re just starting out and you find yourself putting four or five guitar overdubs on a tune, it probably means the part you put down in the first place was wrong. I remember listening to the radio with my daughter last year and I had to point out to her why I didn’t like this Snow Patrol song - or maybe it was Coldplay. I noticed there were five instruments playing the same rhythm at the same time. D’ya know what I mean? What’s the point?!
So what can we all expect from the gig at the Jazz Café?
We tend to start off with five or six numbers with the saxophone, the take it down for a couple of tunes with our Ozzy playing guitar. Oh, and then there’s a jam where everyone gets somewhere between 24 and 56 bars – depending on how we’re feeling.
And what does the future hold? What are you up to next?
We’ve got loads of tracks ready to go for the next Joneses record, so it’s just a case of working out the logistics. Hopefully we’ll have it ready for September and because I didn’t exploit myself commercially between The Stairs and the Viper years, I’ve always got songs to pick on!
The Masked Marauder is released through Viper Records on March 17
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 6:00 AM GMT 01/02/2008