On the eve of their debut album, head Azoogian Davey Newington chats to Fedor Tot.
Cardiff’s premier psych-popsters Boy Azooga release their debut album 1, 2, Kung Fu! this month, while a recent appearance on Later… With Jools Holland, beamed their talents across the nation. We sat down for a chat with Davey to find out how the band took shape.
How influential were your parents in your musical upbringing?
There was always music around the house – my dad brought home a Queen VHS and I used to sit in front of the TV with two cricket stumps and a biscuit tin and play along. They encouraged me because they were musicians themselves. My older brother and sister also played music and my granddad was a jazz drummer in the Marines. And then my primary school teacher Ms Burridge was a drummer, so she was really supportive. I was just lucky that people were okay with me playing the drums – it’s not the most sociable instrument.
Now you’re at the front of the band. How has the change been for you?
I put it off for ages – I wanted to do my own project, but there’s the obvious kind of stigma attached to the singing drummer. But then I just thought “fuck it”. I realised loads of my heroes were drummers first, like Ty Segall. Daf [Davies, Boy Azooga drummer], he’s phenomenal. When we go on stage, the drums are nailed so I can just goof around while he does all the hard work.
You recorded and wrote the album yourself. How did that affect the songs?
Everything was written and recorded by me. A guy called Ed Al-Shakarchi produced it – he’s a phenomenal musician and producer. My dad played strings on three of the songs. I was playing drums in other bands and this project was my escape; I didn’t plan to take it on the road or anything, so I layered it and filled it with different stuff. When it did become a band I realised we have to try and perform this live now.
Has there been any particular challenges in translating the songs to a live setting?
The other three members are such good musicians that it seems anything I throw at them we can replicate live. We do use a sample pad, but try not to do it to too many backing tracks. I’d love to get to a stage like LCD Soundsystem where there’s no track, and all human beings playing.
Your songs on this album sound noticeably studio-written. Are you going to change the way you write songs now with the band?
I still write the way I always have, in my flat with my guitar. I try and make sure the song can stand up on its own. We’ve already started recording the next record – we have a song called Jaki which is a tribute to Jaki Liebezeit, the drummer from Can, and I want us to never play it the same way twice. I thought we could have some wig-out experimental sections.
Have you ever had a vision or a sound for Boy Azooga or has it just come about naturally?
I kind of obsessed over it for ages – I had different notebooks and stuff that I lost, but I don’t know if there was one defining thing. I knew that I wanted it all to be done in Eddie’s place, cause loads of my favourite records had been made in someone’s bedroom or someone’s house. I remember Caribou saying that he wants it to sound like his music is being beamed in from another dimension, but he’s actually just making it in his flat. It’s cool that you can make a whole other world in just one room.
The Parrot, Camarthen, Fri 15 June; Le Public Space, Newport, Sat 16 June. Tickets: £8. Info: 01267 231012 (Carmarthen) / www.lepub.co.uk (Newport). 1, 2, Kung Fu! is released by Heavenly on Fri 8 June.