This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of bandhood for the The Bamboos. In the modern world of music where songs surface and then sink with increasing rapidity, it is any wonder how one stays afloat. A songs success can be as arbitrary and mystifying as outer space; hard work and merit often overlooked or unseen in the oceanic plethora of digital files and folders. However, Bamboos frontman Lance Ferguson has weathered the storm. He keeps buying his vinyls and he continues to make music. The band has hung onto their love for playing, and continues to want to play. It is easy for the doubts, the inconsistencies and the instability of life in the music business to push a musician off course, but a great deal harder to persist and prevail, and hardest of all, to keep enjoying the music. Ferguson sounds as upbeat as ever for the year ahead. Lots of his projects will be heard for the first time and once again music lovers can listen, dance and appreciate The Bamboos.
Lance Ferguson has a chat about what has been, and what lies ahead:
The Bamboos longevity:
Bands come up and fade away and we have managed to keep this thing rolling along for fifteen years, which I think is something to be proud of in a lot of ways. We will be releasing a new album this year which will be our seventh studio album, and our eighth album all up if you include the live album as well, so we have put out a fair bit of music in that time and I do not know if we will ever stop playing and making music.
There have been a few lineup changes over the years. The band started out as a four piece. I am the only remaining person from that original four piece. The lineup that formed thereafter, 80% of the members are still in it. We have been pretty much a family ever since.
More music and progressing:
I write most of the songs and I produce all of the records with John Castle, who we have done all our stuff with in the studio – and for me it is just that side of it – I think it is about making the next record for me. The progression goes down a different path and it keeps me excited and gets me excited about these two new albums and there is always somewhere that you can take the music. I think there will always be a different Bamboos album to make.
I try to avoid listening to too much of my own stuff, but when forced to by family members at barbecues or by people just putting stuff on, I am particularly fond of the last two records [Medicine Man and Fever In The Road]. They are two records that people around the place noticed and we got a nod by the ARIAS for both of those albums so I am proud of what we did with them. They are very different albums. Medicine Man was almost like a variety show of guest artists on there, which was kind of a cool thing to try out, and then, we pulled everything back with Fever In The Road and kept it as just the core band, only with no guest artists so they were very different albums.
I think Fever In The Road was a fair bit darker in tone as well. I enjoyed listening to those albums and I always listen back critically in terms of technical things and think that I could have done that better or, that would have been better like this but I think in the end I am happy with how those albums turned out and I just want to make the next one better and we have a new one coming out pretty soon.
Collaborations with friends on Medicine Man:
All of the collaborations were pretty much a case of a friend and being involved- having a conversation in a bar or someplace a year or a month before and going, “Hey lets do something.”
We had already worked with Megan Washington and have had a long running relationship with her and I have played in her band before. She is a really good friend of myself and the band so she ended up doing two tunes of the record. I met Tim Rogers through Megan, that was where that cook up began. It was all very casual, it was never like managers approaching managers and complete strangers, we always knew one another, were friends and talked about it and I think that it is a nice way to do it. I have done the other side and basically called people and had people talking to people and all that sort of stuff, and it is cool as well. I just think ultimately at the end of the day, it is nice when friends make music together.
I am a rabid collector and organised hoarder of stuff so I have a massive vinyl collection. I do a radio show as well and I get a lot of music thrown at me and trawl through a lot – I guess if it is new stuff, really new stuff, I am totally fine to have a digital format but if it is something that I really like and I fall in love with, or if it is something old or a classic or something, I really want to have the original and vinyl of that. There is so much new music coming out now, everyone has access to it. There is so much stuff that it is impossible to own all of that in a hard copy format. The other thing is, for a lot of the stuff, there is no physical format. It is only existing in a digital realm anyway, more and more – but definitely, I am a big vinyl head.
A new record with Tim Rogers:
We had done a song with Tim Rogers called ‘I Got Burned’ and I guess it has been the most visible song of ours up to date. Working with Tim Rogers is a lot of fun and we put that song together really quickly, it happened really fast. We then did a tour together last year called the Rock’N’Soul Medicine Show which was a lot of fun and we did some covers and we wrote a few new tunes as well and we seemed to really hit it off in the songwriting and co-writing sense, so we decided we would do a full length record together and we wrote it mid-to-late last year and recorded it late last year. It is going to be a full length Tim Rogers and The Bamboos record. I think it is sounding pretty cool. We have not mastered it yet or anything so we still have to make a few little changes and things but I think we are pretty much there.
We plan to do some sort of national tour. I’m not sure when or where or how yet but we will definitely like to do something like that.
Other projects with Kylie Auldist and Lanu:
I was very busy in the studio for most of last year, especially in the second half, and we just finished Kylie Auldist album, she is from The Bamboos also and that is going to be coming out this year and then I have another project I do called Lanu which is kind of my solo stuff and there is an album which is ready to come out this year as well. It is going to be a big year where a lot of things I have been working on will be released. I am excited for people to get a hear, for sure.
The Bamboos play at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo with Katalyst and special guests.
Saturday 21 February
Taronga Twilights, Sydney
Tickets here: http://twilightattaronga.org.au/lineup/the-bamboos/