If you’ve never heard the likes of Toto’s Africa or Blackstreet’s No Diggity blaring out from a trumpet, sax and trombone combo, then ask yourself this; have you really been living?
Heralding the return of the brass band is Hackney Colliery Band, a nine-piece outfit from, yep, you guessed it (clue’s in the title), who are currently ruling the airwaves and festival scene with their unique musical interpretations on party tunes.
Founder and lead trumpeteer Steve Pretty, says: “We’re definitely a ‘party band’ to some extent and we love to play stuff that people know, but with a bit of a twist. There’s something even more satisfying about playing our own music that gets the same kind of reaction.”
It’s this mix of covers and their original material that’s won them fans in the likes of Gilles Peterson, Rob da Bank and Huey Morgan, who said the band “blow me away.” That’s not to mention collaborations with Jarvis Cocker, the Royal Opera House and their up-coming work with electro-funk band, Snorkel.
Pretty says: “We bring in a lot of different influences, from contemporary rock and electronic music to classic soul and New Orleans marching bands via a bit of avant garde jazz, west African and Balkan music.
“The response at gigs is pretty amazing given that we don’t have lyrics, a vocalist, guitars, samplers or drum machines. I think people really respond to the live, acoustic nature of the gigs; there’s something quite special about having this big sound being made by nothing more than pieces of mutated plumbing and people hitting things with sticks.”
It’s this back-to-basics ethos of traditional music-making that works surprisingly well with tunes such as the Prodigy Medley (which must been heard to be believed).
Steve adds: “These are both very good examples of us HCB-izing tunes, which normally means ripping them apart and reassembling them in our own fashion while trying to preserve a bit of the spirit of the original.”
Next up on the band’s hit list is a Best Of British set which will tie-in with the national celebrations this summer, to be performed at festivals such as The Secret Garden Party, and which was debuted at last week’s Lovebox festival. The band is also planning to explore new genres. Steve says: “After the success of the Prodigy Medley, we’re starting to experiment with a bit of drum ’n’ bass, dubstep and the like. We like to surprise people.”