INTERVIEW: The Black Seeds

Photo | David James
Photo | David James

THE BLACK SEEDS ARE CELEBRATING FIFTEEN YEARS TOGETHER AND ON THE EVE OF ANOTHER AUSTRALIAN VISIT VOCALIST DANIEL WEETMAN SPOKE WITH CHRIS FAMILTON ABOUT THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE BAND.

Maintaining and indeed growing an international profile can be a tricky exercise for bands from the Southern Hemisphere. The costs of touring and missed opportunities from not being on the ground in Europe or the USA can discourage and disadvantage many bands yet The Black Seeds seem to have played the field well. Knowing the right people, persistence and commitment to the cause are all ancillary factors that need to occur to support the music, something which the band have been evolving and maturing now over a decade and a half.

From early beginnings in the nascent Wellington reggae and dub scene the band quickly felt the need to diversify their sound to strengthen their own identity and allow members to contribute their different styles to the mix. With the release of last year’s Dust and Dirt Daniel Weetman believes one highlight of their career has been maintaining the standard they set on Into The Dojo (2006).

“I was really proud of Into The Dojo because it was a big change and showed some maturity. I’m really proud of Dust and Dirt too. It has done the same job as Into The Dojo in terms of bringing in everyone’s influences and I think having our own studio in Wellington was really refreshing. Just sticking together has been an achievement. We are always thinking forward, toward the next album and getting a new studio. We’ve maintained a good respect for each other which may come from being in a big band and being able to hang with different people on tour. Always progressing in our writing and progressing reggae music is a highlight of what we’ve done and we’ve kept that reggae base, it has the skank but it has a whole lot more happening in there too.”

Over fifteen years the band members have inevitably started families which adds another dimension to the pressures of managing an international touring group but by adopting a flexible approach they have ensured they can still tour yearly to Europe and the USA.

“The majority of us have kids now and so we have to keep the partners in mind when we’re booking tours. We’ve had situations where some of us haven’t gone on tour because we’ve been expecting babies and so we had to get people to fill in but it always seems to work out, even if we have a different keyboard player or guitarist on tours of Europe. North America is growing each time we go and there are lots of reggae bands there wanting to play with us and we were blown away by what they were telling us about how people appreciate our sound there. I think that’s because we have a rock and psychedelic edge with the reggae backbone and people really respond to that variety. Getting a great review from Rolling Stone magazine who said we’re one of the best reggae bands in the world helps too! We’ll take that compliment.”

Another curveball is about to be thrown at The Black Seeds with founding member Weetman shifting to Sydney later this year to be close to his young son. He still intends to be part of the band but how that will work practically is yet to be tested.

“The rest of the band are still based in or around Wellington and I’m living up in Auckland at the moment. I’m actually going to move to Sydney later this year to be with my son. It is going to be really difficult but the guys still keen for me to be in the band and carry on but we’ll just have to plan ahead a lot. If it gets to be too hard then I’ve accepted that there is a chance I might not be doing it anymore.

this interview was first published in The Drum Media and on themusic.com.au

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