Andy Gunton: How, why & when did the band get together?
Fabulous Red Diesel: We got together through Earth Spirit, a tiny festival in Sussex. It was total heaven in the woods. We used to go there in the 90s and played on Bohemia Muse, a brilliant woodland stage built around an oak and yew tree that had grown together. At the time we were all in other bands, but over the years we all came together in a magnetic sort of fusion to create this one sound. The Fabulous Red Diesel got together in 2005, Kat (vocals keys and flute) and Wil (drums) had moved down from London and wanted to start a funk band after the breakup of their previous band, Naked Angel. Chris ‘Count Bouncy’ Piper was on bass and ‘Crazylegs’ Max on Guitar. Si ‘Rabbi Jaffa Delicious’ joined 2 years later on guitar and trumpet. Max left the band and moved to London. Bea arrived next on Trumpet and finally Voodoo in 2012 on the trombone and percussion.
AG: How would you describe your music?
FRD: That’s tricky, we are the only ‘Festy-Funk’ sextet that we know of, but it’s more than that. Its communication, on a very physical level, both between the 6 of us, and then between us and the audience. We make sounds, the audience respond by moving, smiling, nodding, and when the evening progresses to that point, dancing. We create a bubble, a land we call ‘Groovyville’, and when we begin to play it appears. You enter through a portal which opens as you start to relax and listen and you step inside it for the evening. I regularly see grown adults transformed into 13 year olds, back at the school disco, losing the years like in Cocoon, dropping all the worries and cares they came in with. They smile and laugh and are totally amazed that they have no idea what sort of music they are listening to, but it creeps in and unlocks parts of themselves they had forgotten about. And when the evening is over, the portal gently closes and we all go home. But you don’t forget the feeling, you take a little piece of ‘Groovyville’ home with you, and you can replay it at your leisure, until the next time we all meet up of course and then it starts all over again.
AG: Who writes your songs?
FRD: The music is written by Kat, the lyrics, chords and initial arrangement. Kat then plays it to the band, as a piano and voice acoustic song. Then if the band like it, they start joining in, everyone adding their own parts however they see fit. The band tweak and mould the song into The Fabulous Red Diesel sound, and there you have it.
AG: How many albums have you released now?
FRD: ‘Freaks is Comin‘ in 2008. ‘We know it’s 43‘ in 2011 and ‘You’re Luvly You Are’ (recorded live at Hastings Beach Concert in 2013) in 2014 - digital only at the moment, with a physical release coming very shortly.
AG: You’re known to be a great live band. What are the best gigs you’ve played so far?
FRD: Hippodrome Casino last Christmas, Rye international Jazz Festival, The Lamb in Lewes on the bonfire society’s last night, Fat Tuesday and opening Jack in the Green on bank holiday Monday. It’s so hard to say, we always have amazing gigs at the Jenny Lind and Pissaros. The best gig we didn’t play, would be Bestival this year - we were already booked to play a 40th birthday in Tunbridge Wells and couldn’t let the birthday boy down, so we had to say no. Hopefully we’ll be on for next year.
AG: What’s next for The Fabulous Red Diesel?
FRD: We’ve just been taken on by an agent, MotherJazz, which is great. We’ve also got a new album out in the autumn called ‘Fur Coat, No Underwear’. A promotional video, made by local film maker Keith Rodway at Fat Tuesday 2014, is nearly complete. Hopefully we’ll be doing a festival in Paris in late September, and have plans for a few small festivals in Holland and Germany in 2015. We plan to continue to do what we have been doing so far. We would love to do Fat Tuesday again and also find a good record label/promoter to help us shift some copies of the new album to a more international market.
AG: How would you describe the music scene in Hastings?
FRD: It’s Bohemian, diverse, rich, very talented, with a brilliant mix of styles. You can always find something you like and always someone to discover. I like the way established international artists like Liane Carroll play in their local wine bar regularly and then the next week she will be at some amazing awards night! We love Fat Tuesday, it’s totally awesome, the organisation, and the way the town turns out, fully masked up and really up for it. I also love Jack in The Green, and the way they totally make use of all the local talent. The pubs are fantastic, the Jenny Lind and Pissarro’s are full of the best audiences! Hastings people are so up for a party.
We certainly agree with that and can’t think of a better band to get that party started than The Fabulous Red Diesel.
Hastings Online Times
The Fabulous Red Diesel – fuel for life!
The Fabulous Red Diesel have been adding colour to Hastings and St Leonards for about ten years now. Fuelled by the dynamo combination of Kat and Will Lee-Ryan, they have been instrumental in staging the Bohemia Village Fayre and have performed at St Leonards Festival – as well as headlining at HOT’s launch party three years ago. Recently, the band have been putting their focus into recording, whilst pondering universal questions. “We Know it’s 43” is the result – HOT’s Erica Smith donned her headphones for a listen.
Listening to The Fabulous Red Diesel at home is a very different experience to seeing them all purple and pinked up on stage. Without the visual distraction, Kat’s vocals are strong and pure and the music is slinky and quietly funky. I imagine sipping a daiquiri in an uptown nightclub whilst the band, besuited and sequinned perform for the cocktail crowd. Kat’s gran was a Tiller Girl, so there might be some reason behind my fantasy.
The lyrics sometimes detourne this decadent image. One of my favourite songs, Hausfrau, is a clever way to encourage a domestically retarded partner to enjoy engaging in a bit of housework. All the songs are strong, and so they should be. The producer, Phill Brown, is quietly famous, if you get time, take a look – www.phillbrown.net. He recorded Bob Marley, Faithless, Led Zepellin, Dido and John Martyn.
“We know it’s 43” has spun more than once around my headphones and made me yearn to see the band again. Fortunately, that’s possible – The Fabulous Red Diesel are playing a rare local gig at Hastings’ unlikeliest new, cool venue – The Fountain in Queens Road, opposite Morrisons. It’s this Saturday – 8 December. They’ll be on stage at 9pm – it’s free, and they’ll have their CDs for sale!
Greetings St. Leonards On Sea was the postcard that came with this Cd from that sleepy seaside towns finest musical ensemble. I raved about TFRD last release Freaks Is Coming and We Know is even better with a more professional sheen to everything, which is achieved without knocking the quirkiness out of this rag tag of fine musicians.
In The Head takes the melody from Brubeck’s Take Five and drags it kicking and screaming into the Twenty First Century when the brass section really breaks loose. Crocodile is probably the grove that Weller was looking for with the Style Council but he forgot to have fun. Kat and company take the most mundane subjects and breathe live and love into them, who would have thought Shoe shopping could sound so classy as in Crocodile.
Hausfrau is an education for all Men; women don’t want chocolates or sexy drawers just a bit of help around the house. So forget Thorntons and Ann Summers and get out the Marigolds if you want your frau to get jiggy with you. Who Knew?
If Zappa had more of a brass section and less guitars then he would be in the same ballpark, it’s that kind of irreverent look at serious issues that makes me think of our Lord FZ especially on tracks like Messiah. Blue takes us back onto the Brubeck bassline and Patch Of Earth has a go at parochial Britain over delightfully complicated rhythms.
Stand Up is a stand out with Kat delivering couplets like staccato stilettos over a busy Bass and that bonkers brass section. Means Something had me thinking of Bowie’s Five Years and is a welcome change of tempo with a more soulful feel to it. Ring Around The Moon takes us into Mental Illness and Domestic Abuse and I think it’s a Tenor Horn provided by Miss BeaHave which provides the melancholia. These guys don’t stay serious for long and Find Another Way is a funked up sonic attack which plays havoc with time signatures.
Weatherman is a fantastic way to finish a fine album, the track takes the tricks from the other songs and along with the Kitchen Sink it all moulds into a Jazzy classic, I can’t get the image of the guy in his ‘pink Bermudas and Blue nose.’
If you enjoyed the Freaks is Coming then you will Love We Know It’s 43 because THE FREAKS HAVE ARRIVED. Stupidly good and more fun than a dozen barrow loads of monkeys Live they are even better I am assured.
This album grabs you from the opening of Box In The Sky, with manic keys and scene stealing Basswork this track musically nods at Brubeck’s Take Five but twists and turns beautifully with Kats voice supplemented by some searing backing vocals from Ms Fatti Wu-Wu. As you would expect a track called Butterfly is more mellow but equally impressive and strong lyrically. Cinderella could be culled from a 70's cop show with it's Jazz Funk feel, a great update of the fairy tale story.
Anytime tells us to live everyday as it's your last, 'it could be anytime... you're a long time dead', on this track the haunting trumpet of Rabbi Jaffa Delicious comes to the fore. Continuing the wind section, Rise sees the flute having a good workout. I Wanna Go Home is a great slice of dare I say it Pop, then Freaks heads us back into familiar territory. A lot of this album reminds me of Zappa (not guitar histrionics, but playing with time signatures and instruments and adding humorous asides), and this track is where it stands out most. Groovyville does what it says on the tin, with bass and drum subtly playing off kilter with trumpet soaring. Whipping Girl again has FZ innuendo with a paean to S&M, with a tongue lodged (careful) firmly in cheek.
From the cover (a collection of photos of fans who paid in advance so the album could be finished) right through to the final track you are in for a joyride. Musically and lyrically a very fine album, I am always a sucker for Bassplayers and Crazy-Legs certainly had my head going, but it really is unfair to single anybody out, Red Diesel will certainly put fire in your tank.
Welsh and border country people get ready Red Diesel will be at the Green Gathering in Chepstow 29-31st July.
Jack from Hastings
So Helena said to me, why not come to Bohemia and hear this brilliant band, Red Diesel, and, being an adventurous type, I did. Image my delight at hearing/seeing your band which was excellent. Mostly, though, I enjoyed your playing and singing. Fancy coming across true musicianship in a leafy, not to say hippyish, backwater in Hastings! I want you to know I enjoyed it tremendously.