The New Mastersounds | UK Neo-Soul comes to Foco

|By Anthony Cross |
Soul, funk and groove comprise some of my earliest musical memories. Instead of playing Mozart, my parents listened to the likes of Michael Jackson and George Duke when I was an infant. I can with honesty say that I have been worried about these genres for some time, during the boom for electronic music in the mid-to-late years, these genres were pulled apart, sampled and re-sampled, eventually to be peddled on the digital street corners of Soundcloud and YouTube.
As we continue to transition out of the cultureless pit that was a lot the 2000’s thus far,  I realize that I have no reason to be worried. Artists who have been around since the late 90’s spearheading the Neo-Soul revolution in Europe are finally starting to make waves in America. One of the bands that is leading the charge when it comes to this style of music are The New Mastersounds. I had the pleasure of talking to the lead guitarist and founding member, Eddie Roberts, building up to The New Mastersounds show at the Aggie Theater, which will take place on February 10th in Fort Collins.
After the usual small talk, I asked about the Colorado shows the band has lined up for the next few weeks. “We always try and work in a ski tour; Colorado is perfect for that,” Roberts commented. “We generally are touring for most of the year.” This is impressive seeing as The New Mastersounds just released “Made For Pleasure,” a full album, late last year, with an anticipated album coming out in the spring of 2016.
“The next album is a bit different. We ended one of our tours in Nashville and had the opportunity to get some studio time and record a (semi) live album; just a couple of people in the studio applauding after each song, and we pretty much got it done in a day,” Roberts added.

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Our conversation quickly turned towards vinyl, a mutual fascination of sorts. One aspect consumers do not realize about releasing music on vinyl is how high the demand is right now to do so. When CD’s began to show up on the market, the music industry in the U.S. scaled back the production of vinyl.  Fast forward to 2015 & 2016 when vinyl sales are projected to be hitting new heights, and the top selling products on Amazon last Christmas were turntables and vinyl records. This presents a problem for the manufacturing sector of vinyl, as these facilities still have not had time to catch up and are severely backlogged with orders.

Roberts stated, “We have to get our vinyl orders in incredibly early; it is harder than ever to get your music printed in a timely matter. We ordered our last album to be ready for the start of our tour and it didn’t arrive until we were halfway done, the demand for pressings is just that high.”

As I dove deeper, it became clear that Roberts and I shared some of the same philosophies on listening to vinyl. “It’s a great way to restart your attention and re-focus your mind, you really listen to the music undistracted,” he commented.” Our mutual disdain for the cheap brands of turntables (namely Crosley) became clear when reminiscing of mutual experiences of surprise when walking into Whole Foods (of all places) and seeing the ugly little blue boxes next to a reissue of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. “The turntable market needs time to catch up also,” Roberts said. “I mean, if you want zero pops and scratches, digital is the way to go, however, analog is warmer…it’s just so much warmer, especially when you are listening to records on a good system,” he added.  I agreed.  Expectedly, I inquired about his personal collection. “I still have some. Most of my vinyl I gave to my son. My brother, however, is a serious collector. He has every single Blue Note album ever released.” Yes, you did read that correctly. “It is something about listening to a physical representation of music that is so great.”

Pulling back, one major question still lingered. This band has been around since the late 90’s, and this year is turning 17. Did it feel like the group was building towards something, or has it become a steady rigamarole of touring and recording for The New Mastersounds.  Roberts replied, “Oh it definitely feels like we are building up to something; before it was a bit less together, but now that we have a team around us (publicist, manager, etc.), it’s amazing what that will do. We are so much more focused.”

A band with a list of collaborators as various as those of The New Mastersounds, must come from diverse influences. However, when asked about what Roberts is currently listening to,  I received a surprising answer. “I actually stay clear of music in my free time.” I was a bit shocked, however, this tends to be a common position of some people who tour heavily. “When you are bombarded with sound all day, you tend to value the silence much more,” he stated.

Our interview, despite the tangents,  came to an end laughing over the ever amusing antics of the Michigan based band Vulfpeck, the band that last year, stole $40K from Spotify. If you haven’t heard of them yet,  I highly recommend them.
I’m excited to bring you this interview before The New Mastersounds’ show at the Aggie Theater. This band has an ever-increasing audience, and an ever-diversifying repertoire of music and collaborations. If you are in the area on Wednesday the 10th, come down to the Aggie Theatre for a good time. You won’t want to miss these cats!

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