Masters -The James Hunter Six

Masters -The James Hunter Six

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Masters3

Le Beat Bespoke 2010 was the last time NU had the honor of having The James Hunter Six grace our stage. I managed to have a chat with the main man ahead of the Margate Mod/Sixties weekend show on Friday 27 May 2017 @ Olbys.

You’ve had some rave reviews for the new album. How pleased are you with the way it has turned out?

Very much so! I know the phrase ‘We feel this is our best album’ is generally a coded way of saying ‘We feel this is our latest album’ but I would describe ‘Hold On’ as the record I always wanted to make. ‘Hold On’ is released on the Daptone lable.

How did that deal come about and were you a fan of their output beforehand?

We were between record labels and we wanted to work with a company whose ethos was the closest match to our artistic concept (or “a company who got our vibe” to use the parlance of today’s cider-addled youth). My barber played me Sharon Jones and the Dapkings’ stuff a few years ago and I liked it a lot, so at the first opportunity, we tried to get their label interested in us.

The producer for ‘Hold On’ (Gabriel Roth aka Bosco Mann) has compared you with Smokey Robinson in terms of your songwriting. That is high praise indeed, but how do feel about those kinds of comparisons?

I have been compared to Smokey before, although never favourably. I love his work, particularly his charming quirk as a compulsive rhymer, which effectively turns every fade out into a built-in bonus track.

How much of your life experience has influenced your songwriting?

I don’t think I’ve ever written anything explicitly autobiographical although some real-life moments end up in my songs. But that bit in ‘The Gypsy’ about whacking a fortune teller over the crust with a lead pipe is complete fiction. I deny all knowledge of this incident and I’m prepared to stand up in court and say so.

It’s fair to say your life has been anything but dull, from appearing on The Tube as Howlin’ Wilf, working with Van Morrison and Doris Troy (to name but two), then having to pick yourself up from a very low point to start again, what do you think has been the driving force that has brought you to this point?

Shortly after we appeared on ‘The Tube’ we had two record companies expressing an interest in us (neither of them went for it in the end) but when one of them invited us to the office he played the video of our performance and then turned to us and said: “Well you’ve done it now. You’ll never stop working!” And he turned out to be right, we never did, although there have been one or two lengthy holidays along the way.

The 2006 LP, ‘People Gonna Talk’ was a huge album in America, topping the Billboard Blues chart and earning a Grammy nomination. It was also critically acclaimed, what do you think was the key factor behind its success?

It might have been the novelty value of a middle-aged white bloke from England singing soul music, but hopefully, it was also because some of the songs were fairly catchy!

You have never recorded a cover version, but if you had to do a cover, what would it be?

We did attempt a cover of Allen Toussaint’s ‘Lover of Love’ for the ‘Hold On’ sessions but we didn’t really do it justice, so we’ll have another stab at it one day.

The other five musicians in your band have been with you for some considerable time now. What are their best qualities?

All of them have differing and eclectic tastes in music (anything as long as it’s good!) so each one brings a different element to the music, which stops it becoming too much of a slavishly copyist band. They also contribute to the arrangements of the songs after I’ve written them, which prevents them getting too samey. Oh, and availability is a strong factor as well.

We are really looking forward to seeing you in Margate James, thank you very much for talking to NutsMag.

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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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May 15, 2017 By : Category : Bands,Front Page,Interviews,Music,News,Scene,UK Tags:, ,
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