The Herbaliser are the first to open our temple doors for Sunday Service. The Waveform Transmitter‘s Ste Knight presents a double hitter of hip-hop from the band – we’ve got you TWO mixes for your Sunday afternoon relaxation. Amen to that!
I’ve been a fan of The Herbaliser since I first heard the brilliant ‘Blow Your Headphones’ back in 1997. That was 21 years ago and, for me, they are one of those bands whose material genuinely stands the tests of time, managing to sound fresh even over two decades later. Ever since then, my headphones have been continuously blown by one of UK hip-hop‘s true mainstays. Imagine how excited I was when they agreed to record us a UK exclusive Sunday Service Mix.
The mix has been put together to coincide with the release of The Herbaliser‘s new album, Bring Out the Sound. The album presents as significantly more than an affirmation of The Herbaliser‘s principles, it is a complete redefinition. The Herbaliser are no strangers to critical acclaim; their no-less-than-seven studio albums stand as testament to this, notwithstanding their fantastic contributions to the Fabric Live and Ninja Tune mix series’ respectively. Their critical claim is well deserved, as they have carved their own niche into the UK Hip Hop community, combining rugged beats with cinematic elements with astonishing results.
Their latest addition to their impressive back-catalogue of releases, ‘Bring Out the Sound’ retains much of the elements of the Herbaliser sound and yet, somewhat paradoxically, feels like something totally new. Collaborations are no stranger to the band and their latest work sees Rodney P taking the lyrical reins on ‘Like Shaft’ and ‘Some Things’, illustrating their close ties to UK hip hop. The inclusion of Just Jack on the lamenting ‘Seize the Day’ demonstrates their diverse capabilities as producers, exploring a more acoustic sound throughout the production.
The Herbaliser was originally formed in the early 90s, as Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba joined forces in musical unanimity. As the likes of Ninja Tune and Mo’Wax began to really nail the UK hip-hop market, The Herbaliser began their ascent to the top of their game; a zenith point from which they have not yet been toppled. Now, The Herbaliser are a full live act, and one that proves to be festival favourites on a global scale. This much loved live band will spring into action once again in support of ‘Bring Out The Sound’, an album poised to introduce audiences to a new, yet not altogether unfamiliar, sound from The Herbaliser.
Their latest album sees them heading to BBE (Barely Breaking Even) Music, a nurturing home for a range of sounds, covering disco, funk, jazz, soul and hip-hop, and releasing music from luminaries such as Bugz in the Attic, Masters at Work, and DJ Deep, amongst many many more. Their catalogue is incredibly impressive – definitely worth checking out.
The Waveform Transmitter are lucky enough to present to you not just one, but TWO mixes for you today. But first, we spoke to Jake, from The Herbaliser, about just what makes the band tick.
Waveform: Hi Jake. Thanks for taking time out to talk to us and for opening our brand-new Sunday Service mix series. How are you both doing? You must be excited about the release of the new album?
The Herbaliser: Yes, we have a good feeling about this record- it’s good to be back with a label (BBE) after we cast ourselves into the wilderness after self-releasing our last album “There Were Seven” – it was a good album but didn’t get heard by as many people we hoped.
Waveform: ‘Bring Out the Sound’ is an album that demonstrates your commitment to the UK hip hop scene and your fidelity with the sound has been obvious since your first release. Do you agree with this sentiment?
The Herbaliser: As well as previously having had great US MC’s on our records, we’ve always felt it was important to represent British MC’s too and as such have featured Blade, Roots Manuva, PhiLife Ciphr and Wildflower.
This time we finally got it together to have Rodney P on the album – and that’s great. From a sound perspective we’ve had the albums mixed by No Sleep Nigel since 1997 and he’s a true master on the dials – he always nails the sound and gets the drums banging properly.
Waveform: This is your first album in the past five years. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to during this short hiatus from recording?
The Herbaliser: I had a third bout of a life-threatening disease and it wrecked me physically and mentally too, so it took time to recover.
Waveform: The collaboration with Rodney P and 28luchi on ‘Like Shaft’ is dope! With such a cataclysmic meeting of minds taking place on ‘Bring Out the Sound’, we’re wondering, who has been your favourite collaborative artist up to now? You’ve hooked up with some serious talent over the past 23 years!
The Herbaliser: Oh, so many dope people we’ve worked with. Really hard to answer but I’d probably say Jean Grae (What!What!) as she has such a silky voice and her lyrics are sublime.
Waveform: Going to hit you with a tough one now. What is your favourite track from the album? We’re not envying you here – with so many great tracks we’re struggling a bit ourselves!
The Herbaliser: Five tracks have come to mind since reading the question, each with at least few reasons why I’d choose that track. Fuck, I’m stumped. Hmm…I’ll give you two – ‘Seize the Day’ – because it’s so epic and having not used any samples for this album, this track sounds massive and it’s all out work. I like ‘Shaft’ because it’s banging!
Waveform: Let’s take things back a bit. Tell us about how The Herbaliser came to be.
The Herbaliser: We met, had similar ideas and desires about making music, got on and got lucky hooking up with Ninja Tune at a good time and got even luckier hooking up an amazing list of MC’s over the years
Waveform: Back in 2012 you are quoted as stating that “…[hip hop] all got a bit stale and top-40 hip hop is just fucking dire…” What is your opinion on the current scene, especially now that mumble rap and trap all seem to be so prevalent?
The Herbaliser: We generally don’t get involved in “scenes” and just do what we do. To each his own etc, trap and mumble rap just aren’t in our line of vision
Waveform: How differently do you approach producing an album when compared to recording a mix compilation? Do you think there are facets of each that are very similar, perhaps in terms of arranging sound?
The Herbaliser: Not really, with a mix comp it’s easier as you don’t have to create the music in the first place out of nothing! I guess once the music is written the man the sequencing is similar to how a mix is- you want it to take the listener on a journey and dynamics are important in both an album sequence and a DJ mix too.
Waveform: You have kindly opened our brand-new Sunday Service mix series. Tell us a bit about your thoughts behind some of your track selection.
The Herbaliser: Ollie has done the mix, so I’ll have to get him to answer!
Waveform: What plans lie ahead following the release of the album?
The Herbaliser: We have a load of U.K. dates for the band in April and May as well as in Europe. Some festivals lined up this Summer – looking forward to playing at Boomtown then more touring in the Autumn
Waveform: Thanks again, guys, for talking to us. Best of luck with the new release!
So, as we mentioned, we have no less than TWO mixes for you today, which we have procured just for you, below! The first is a UK exclusive and the ‘official’ opener of the Sunday Service series, recorded by Ollie Teeba under The Herbaliser moniker, and features a raft of full-blown, certified bangers that will detonate any speaker system. Just check out that tracklist… Consider The Herbaliser‘s sermon well and truly delivered.
The second, our ‘bonus’ mix with which we are launching the series, comes from the immensely talented Mr. Thing who, as well as being an incredibly well respected turntablist in his own right (this mix is testament to the fact), will also be known to many as a former member of The Scratch Perverts. Again, this is an incredible mix with some serious flair on display. Fans of the turntablism craft will lap this up. Mr.Thing deftly splices together a range of The Herbaliser‘s best bits, with his trademark cutting and scratching style complementing the original tracks perfectly.
We’ll be back with another Sunday Service mix next week, this time from Pittsburg Tracks’, C.Scott, who’ll be going back to his roots for our second edition in the mix series.