This past week we were able to catch up with Tomorrows Bad Seeds as they came through New York City’s Gramercy Theatre with Common Kings. We sat down before the show with lead singer Moises “Moi” Juarez, guitarist Sean Chapman, guitarist Matthew “Mets” McEwan, drummer Patrick Salmon and bassist Andre Davis. Here is what they had to say.
Reggae In NYC (RN)
Tomorrows Bad Seeds (TBS)
RN: How has it been touring with Common Kings?
TBS: It’s been amazing. We have been friends for a long time and we come from a similar area in California. They are from Orange County. We are from Los Angeles. We met in Hawaii in 2012. We did a whole tour; Maui, Big Island and Oahu. That’s where we linked up and became good friends and then just recently we signed with Regime Management, who also manages the Common Kings and that’s where now there is even more an inner link. We are pretty blessed, but the tour has been so great. The response has been great and the Kings are our boys, so it’s been nothing but fun.
RN: I know the band was on hiatus for a while, as you explored some other projects what has brought you back together and touring?
TBS: To be honest we never stopped playing music. We were always doing a new project. We actually got to play Webster Hall with our new project Life, in that time off, so we never really stopped. Our music was changing so much and it made sense for us to maybe take a break for a little bit and really, you know, try out new things, because some of the stuff we were putting was not sounding like a normal, or not normal, but a regular Tomorrows Bad Seeds song would. I don’t know how to explain it. It almost didn’t fit within the realm of the sound of Tomorrows Bad Seeds. We were all growing as individuals and writers and artists. We were constantly writing for this new project.
Its been really good for us a musicians too, ya know, going out, playing with other people, writing with other people. I think us three, Moi (Moises Juarez), Mets (Matthew McEwan) and myself (Sean Chapman), we learned so much as musicians vocalists, everything, so it really helped. Like you said, going out and meeting other writers and other musicians that’s like the best way to actually sharpen your tool, you know, is learning from everyone.
So getting back to what you asked, someone offered us a show back home and we hadn’t played in a while. A local venue that we used to sell out all the time offered us a show, we had had other offers come through the door too and good things, we were talking to Regime Management. Bad Seeds was always still there, it was never like “oh we are done”, it was like “oh lets do a little reunion show” and the response was so good, we have such love, some real die hard fans. It was “why don’t we just do this”. We decided to give it another crack and this time, instead of being like before, where we tried experimenting in so many different avenues of music, to focus in this genre, in one lane, you know, get back to our core, stay back in our lane. Because it’s so easy for anyone in our band to venture off and play all kinds of music because they are inspired by everything.
From our very first album, we were exploring then. We have always been exploring different sounds and I think now we have learned how to fuse music in a way that isn’t so pinning on a genre, taking pieces and little bits of pieces of things that we love and music that we love and really gluing them together as the Tomorrows Bad Seeds sound as opposed to something else. We have always been set apart for sure, in all scenes. From the Warped Tour scene to the reggae/rock scene, we have always been set apart in some way or form and we fit in everywhere and we like that. That’s the way we look at it, you know? Andre (Davis) during that time off actually had been just writing so much that now we have so much content of songs coming back in it’s just clicking, so it’s good.
RN: What is the writing process like for you?
TBS: When I write songs it is different every time, sometimes it will be a guitar part, sometimes a lyric and just go from there. You start with anything, (band mate coughs) you can start with that cough, it’s definitely a non-traditional process.
RN: After The Great Escape is there another album in the works for Tomorrows Bad Seeds? I have heard rumors of a fourth album with producer Marshall Goodman?
TBS: Ras MG, Marshall Goodman. Yes, we are working on the next record with him. Going to be co-produced by him. We are looking at June 10th as the date. Shawn (Chapman) and “Mets” (Matthew McEwan) and Andre (Davis) too are more the producers of our band. Yeah, it is being put out by, we have some distribution opportunities, but Urbantone Records and Island Empire are looking to joint. Like I said we have so many songs that we have written for the last two years.
RN: Describe the L.A./West Coast reggae scene for our New York fans who have never experienced that, tell them a little about it?
TBS: It’s definitely a lifestyle. That whole scene and that whole culture of the West Coast reggae scene or beach reggae, whatever you want to call it. It’s definitely a lifestyle of things for all these kids creating this new scene of reggae. Where it’s just like, just constantly smoking weed and flying reggae colors and what not, it is party music, it's a college scene. I think at the end of the day too it comes down to, West Coast spawned Sublime, and Sublime, No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, all those bands that were touching on Reggae/Ska music. But remember we all came from Punk Rock, Rock & Roll, Funk and Hip-Hop over there too. Just like New York, but New York again, even the Hip-Hop scene is more pushed toward the Caribbean vibe of that. We were pushed into the melting pot of cultures from Latino, White, Black, Asian, Filipino, everything. That is why I touch on Sublime, Sublime and I think No Doubt as well, were those bands that were the West Coast reggae sound, but they were not known as reggae bands and we’re not, I don’t think, known as a reggae band. They were known as rock bands, alternative rock, it was hard to position them in shows. If you listen to promoters back then, it was hard to position them, “we didn’t know where to put Sublime and what bands to put them with,” because at the time it was metal, new metal, punk rock with a growing scene. Ska, ok that works, but they were their own, and standing alone can be hard sometimes. But I think it is a great thing and I think it’s where we live as a band for sure. And the scene has definitely grown too in both ways, the East Coast if definitely different though, the East Coast is more down with the real Caribbean and Jamaican culture.
That’s the main reason that I wanted to be a part of Tomorrows Bad Seeds and how I got started. I grew up listening to Blues and listening to Hip-Hop, I grew up as a B-Boy, dancing. I came to New York, to the East Coast to battles and to do other things like that, not to sing, but growing up and listening to that style of like Ghetto Beats/ Hip-Hop/Reggae/Rock. This is who we are, this is really what we come from, this is our surroundings, this is one foot in the ghetto, one foot in the beach and we totally maneuvering. We came from the same areas, when we started a band that’s how I wanted to come off as, just keep it real from where we are from. We are not from Jamaica Caribbean, if anything we touch on the Latinos, Latin and that’s what Sublime did too, because we grew up with the Vatos, you know, that’s what’s up.
I bet you never met two Scottish Mexican guys before, when we met it was trippy because we didn’t know that, I thought he (Matthew McEwan) was white, straight up, but he’s Scottish and Mexican just like me and no joke because my dad is tall too and my dad has kids with lots of women, I thought this guy might have been his son, for a minute in my life, I was hoping, I was like no way dude, Mets (Matthew McEwan) is probably my brother.
RN: You mentioned earlier about conscious music, a lot of reggae focuses on conscious messages, dealing with politics at home and abroad. West Coast reggae often gets labeled as party music how do you feel about it?
TBS: That is what I was saying earlier, we are a little bit of party too, I don’t know if you have ever heard any of our records, but we definitely touch on everything. I (Moises Juarez) am more of a love song writer I would say, this guy right here is more of the person you are talking about right now, Matthew McEwan is more of that kind of writer.
I definitely like to more so write about consciousness, whether is be a social problem or different aspects, I mean love songs are great, everybody likes love songs. Everybody loves feel good songs to make you groove, but there are ways to do it to touch on both subjects and fuse consciousness.
I heard someone say that the difference between European and American music, I think it was Rick Ruben, we as Americans related to songs on a social kind of level or vibe. That is why bands like a Blink 182 or even Sublime when they talk about these social issues and not world politics, which is more like The Clash and stuff like that. You are relating to that, because we deal with our own pockets of politics and social issues in America, as opposed to a whole country. Every city has it’s own thing going on and I think Rage Against the Machine is from Los Angeles and the Chili Peppers (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and those kind of bands too were the big bands, Sublime, things that they were all talking about, yeah we want to party, we have a good time, as well as their spirituality and fun. I was just speaking to Curtis about this, in our song Warrior he feels this other kind of spirituality, its not dark, but its touching in that place, its touching in that realm of…angst, is the right word and I think, its angst a lot of American kids grow up with angst. We just write about what we go through and what we feel.
RN: You guys have a great fan base, turning out at all these shows to show their support, what’s the best part of your fans?
TBS: I just like seeing them when they sing along the lyrics. When they really come up and tell me. We have been doing this for a while now so, we haven’t been on tour for a minute, but when we are out there in the crowd and someone says “hey man, you know I saw you five years ago at such and such and you did this and you are so amazing and it inspired me.” It just blows my mind type of thing, you know, that’s kinda more of like what I feed off of. That’s why I like talking to them and going up and meeting them, because they will tell you some really good stories.
Throughout life we have had people leave us crazy messages on Facebook, I’m talking about, hate to bring it down to a different mood, but you know someone says they were going to commit suicide and they met someone who lent them their iPod, and they heard our whole first album, it’ called Early Prayers. They heard the entire album, they went home and their mind was totally set. This young girl was ready to hang herself or something like that, she left us this note, the next day she went on the bus and the kid that lent her the iPod never showed up. It was kind of like a weird thing. That’s one of the stories that has touched me for a really long time. I looked for that message, because I trip out on this and that message is almost like eight years old. But that message right there, is like music does really touch on people.
That’s when you said the conscious, yeah we like to party but the one thing we do want to still remember and bring is a consciousness to this side of life. To society in general. Most people don’t touch on that consciousness. Especially in our country, like I don’t even want to get to politics because I don’t want to talk bad, you know what I am saying?
Social connection with individuals, getting face time with our fans is important to us, seeing how multi-cultural our fans are. Because our band is multi-cultural. It’s awesome and you know, I think Moi (Moises Juarez) nailed it on the head. On this tour a girl came up to me and said she has bipolar syndrome and she has suicidal tendencies and our first album saved her life. I had no words to say to her except “wow” and that’s why we still play music today. That’s why we continue to do what we do. It’s been a couple of times where people have said that kind of stuff and you think like, I’ll be real, I would never even dream of doing that to myself, you know, it would hurt so many people and I feel so sad that it would never go that far, but for you to be a helpful thing in that is such a fucking rewarding feeling.
RN: Normally I would ask what reggae is playing in your iPod, but I think many people have had the experience you are talking about where one song just hits you and speaks to you in that moment. What are some songs that have done that for you?
TBS: For me a bunch of 21 Pilots songs, quite a few of them, I think I am on the same page with that band. Coolidge by The Descendants. It’s all right ma (I’m only bleeding) by Bob Dylan. There is this song I hear on the radio and I always switch it because I don't want to hear it, I don’t know what the guys name, it goes “once I was 7 years old, my momma told me…” (7 Years by Lukas Graham). That song is dope. That song right there, I don’t know who it’s by, that fucking song tore me apart and I wanted to change the fucking dial.