You could tell that Bonebox were going to be a bit a bit special when all seven of them took to the Plantation Cafe stage in suave black suits and an attitude that was determined to put on a fantstic performance despite the sparse crowd in attendance. And sure enough, they blew everyone away with their blues-riffing, gun-toting garage punk. As well as that, it was impossible not to be encapsulated by hyperactive frontman, Jay Taylor, who is a born star. I was so frustrated that I hadn't bought my dictaphone with me, but here are some questions that I sent Jay via e-mail a couple of weeks later.
Who are you all and what instruments do you play?
The Bone-box roster is a fluid, ever changing thing. If a new sound or idea needs slotting in then I'll pull in new blood, but at present the various players are...
Jay Taylor - the voice; a sweet low lullaby vs a holy roller holler. Friction burn slide guitar.
John Cooper - the bass; a deep, low gut sucker punch.
Tim Mullett - the percussion; the thinking man's clatter, batter and groove.
Chris Bowers - the guitar; born with 6 fingers.
Mike Glynn - the drums; the spine, the locking mechanism, the beat on the brat.
Mat Skinner - the blues harp; a delta slice of sass and soul.
Paul Bennett - the trumpet; a living Blue Note wonder, the siren.
Why did you decide on the 7 piece line-up?
Bone-box is the sum of it's parts. There is no slack, no waste, no glory seeking. Every piece fits perfectly in it's place.
For those who don't know, please describe you sound.
A luscious cut and paste spread of nu-blues stylings. It's a mile wide sonic palate taking in and spitting out just what the hell we want. Keep 'em guessing.
Is your image important?
I've always taken bands who considered their whole ethos more seriously - the music, the clothes, the shoes, the record sleeves, the videos, the manifesto. I guess that kinda comes from the MC5. Joe Strummer said "Like trousers like brain".
I hate what I call 'Bus Stop bands' - just some blokes stood in a row. I love suits, I've got about 100 - they look like you mean business, a show of intent.
Jay, you used to be in Goldblade. Are you just taking a break or have the band split up?
Fuck No. All the Brothers do other stuff, writing, tv, promoting, art, video. The 3rd Gold Blade long player is gonna come out later in the year. It's a God damn rock solid killer Rock and Roll drop kick. Jesus, I can't wait.
How does touring with Bonebox compare with Goldblade?
The Bone-box touring thing is a stripped down, back to basics, playing the tables kinda event. It's early days, but things are coming together nicely. The Gold Blade touring thing is a crusade. We arrive, take the town and move on.
How does coming froma large city like Manchester affect the band?
Manchester isn't as big as it lets on but it's good at beating it's chest and yelling from the terraces. Geographically it's perfect for touring the UK and Ireland and it's music scene is real healthy with loads of great stuff going on regardless and oblivious of London.
Are you City or United supporters?
I don't give a flying fuck about football. I've no interest in being a spectator - always wanted to be a player.
I think you have a very live, organic feel. Does this mean you prefer playing live to doing studio work?
Their such different beasts. I love 'em both for separate reasons. Live delivers that mad rush, adrenaline and endorphins kicking in - you feel superhuman. I ripped all the tendons in my ankle at a show I did at the handing over of the Commonwealth games from Kuala Lumpur to Manchester and I didn't feel a thing for 5 hours. I ended up in casualty in agony sure, but Jesus, the gig delivered one hell of a pain killer. The studio is an insanely precise mass of skills but as the track heads to fruition you start feel incredible. I've started producing a bunch of other people the past year, I love studios.
What's the reaction to your debut single been like?
The reaction has been just what I wanted. The people who were clued up and on the case saw it for what it was and picked up on the Jazz, Latin/Cuban/Spanish, Blues flavours etc. A few, as I suspected, kinda thought 'Hey? Why 'aint it Punk?'. Like I'm gonna form a band the same as one I'm already in. Fuck 'em.
Having worked with an ex-music journalist, what role do you think the NME and fanzines play in the underground music scene?
Fanzines are beautiful. Anytime I'm touring I always raid the section in local record stores and I'll always cough up for one at gigs. Anyone who'll turn one down for 50p or a quid or whatever and then head off to the bar or cigarette machine is below contempt. I guess for scenes to develop and for a band to capture the zeitgeist a million varying factors can be at work. But fanzines and even the NME don't shift that many copies so I'm sure their impact is minimal. I mean how many times have you seen a hot new combo paraded on the NME cover and then seen them play to next to nobody a week later. The further north ya go less and less people care about them. If they took on more regional journalists these papers might actually get to report on real burgeoning scenes as opposed to your non-existent Romo variety.
What other bands do you respect? Any I should know about?
The don for me is Miles Davis. The master. Genius in spades. Of late I've been digging these current cuts:
The Hives-'Veni Vidi Vicious' (Burning Heart) CD - a short, sharp WHO for 2001 with killer tunes.
Mark Growden-'Downstairs Karaoke' (Wiggle Biscuit) CD - Like Tom Waits vs Kurt Wiell-low and dark gutter blues.
Mos Def-'Black on both sides' CD ( Rawkus) - Thrilling, fast paced 21st century hip hop with a class A+ rapping style.
Reid Paley-'Revival' CD (Emusic) - Gruff as you like garage blues rumble outta New York.
Petit Vodo-'69 Stereovox' CD (Butcher's Wig) - Unique one man breakbeat blues brawl from Bordeaux. Stunning.
Is the internet going to destroy or save music?
The things that shake stuff up and reinvent / regenerate music always come outta nowhere and confuse / abuse. This is no exception. Gimme as many outlets and formats as you've got, I'm a communicator, I want 'em all.
When can we expect the Bonebox album? What else are you going to be up to this year?
We are doing two weeks in France later in the year and have got a new track appearing on the CD for Abus Dangereux magazine in France. We are gonna do the Manchester Northern Quarter festival and have got a few cable TV things on the go. Also we are doing a track for a Son House covers album that Butcher's Wig are doing. Looks like the long player is going to be due in 2001 and may well be called BONE-BOX DO THE GOOD WORK.
Thanks Jay! Readers: make sure you do not ignore this band any longer. Buy their singles and see them live as soon as possible!
Issue 6 Summer 2000 © Tim Bragger