- Thu, 2012-10-25 12:31
In 1993, Huey Morgan, Brian Leiser and Steve Borgovini formed hip-hop funk-rock all-round party band the Fun Lovin' Criminals - delivering NYC informed grooves (remember their classic hit Scooby Snacks? Oh yes.) Huey can now be found chilling out, hyping up and respecting well made sound across his award winning radio shows on BBC 6Music and BBC Radio 2, providing listeners with a weekly hit of funk, soul, blues, jazz, hip hop and beats; if it's cool, he'll play it.
When news that Huey was releasing his debut solo album hit our inbox, we instantly sought out interview time. Before we knew it, we were stood on the patio of his London home, with an invite into his top secret Man Cave... Marked with a skull and crossbones, a small wooden door led us into the ultimate pad; sofas, guitars and a humble recording set up surrounded by floor to ceiling COOLNESS; posters, pictures, trinkets, crystals, models, flags....basically, a student pad turned PRO.
A 25 minute interview turned into a three hour hang-out. We listened to tunes, spoke about music, I put in a request for his 6Music show (!) and we generally had a lovely time...
ILM: Damn Huey. You're about to release your debut solo album?!
Huey: Jeah! Haha. We didn't think it was ever gunna get released. We just made it for us. I wanted to chronicle our friendship and put it on wax, but I didn't expect it to come out out.
ILM: Where was it made? How long did it take?
Huey: When we knew we were making it, took about three months. Real quick. Really up on it. I recorded in here, on my laptop with pro tools.
ILM: It sounds like it came together really naturally. You did it for the love...
Huey: I talk about Noetics. It's the kinda school of thought that if you think positively and you have good ideas and they're coming from here and not here, and you really do open up your heart - it sounds corny and maybe new age-y and yeah, I got crystals and shit here, but they're not detrimental. It's actually good things that come from good things. You know, everyone was helping out and doing stuff for this record 'cos they wanna hang out. So we just did it.
ILM: As ever your vocals are super charismatic. There's some deep, bluesy crooning going on! How did you record those?
Huey: Here! I did all the vocal stuff on a mic I borrowed from 6Music! It's an Avalon pre-amp. It was literally me. I just put the spit-guard on, then depending on the song stand up or sit down. I had a really short cable though, so could only move about that far away!
ILM: When did you write the songs?
Huey: One of 'em I wrote maybe ten years ago. Three of 'em were about four years ago because they were about the election. So it's topical that they're coming out now. In Dirty Bird I refer to Mitt Romney, 'crazy like Romney'... it's kind of weird that he's now the guy. Four years ago he was too crazy. Seems they can scrub people up...
ILM: On that topic, the record opens with Stick It To The Man...
Huey: You have to stick it to the man. We felt that way four years ago. We wanted Obama in so bad after eight years of George Bush. It's timely now because four years later, right before the election, it's coming out. A lot of people wanna stick it to the man. The man is fucking with everybody.
ILM: Well, you can't make a real soul record without some kind of social commentary. Soul music is about guts and heart...
Huey: Yeah. You have to listen to Marvin Gaye and The Temptations, those guys were living through some serious stuff and so are we. I'm not going to pretend everything's ok. We didn't even think people were going to hear it so I wasn't going to be censored, there was no one there to censor me. I guess I'm stuck with the fall out of what I think is right!
ILM: On the flipside, you can't make a soul record without slowing it down and grooving through that little four letter word... Fall Into Me seems particularly sensitive?
Huey: Thank you, I thank you for that. That was one of the new songs. My wife gave me this guitar so that's how She Gone, The Ripple and Fall Into Me came about. I was listening to it on this system and I was like, yeah, I got it right. It sounds authentic. BJ Cole on the pedal steel puts chills up your spine. I was tryin' to do like a Far Away Eyes kinda thing. All of us in the band are real heavy Stones fans. They played anything they wanted to play in any style they wanted to play and they had fun with it...
ILM: Like It's Alright... where you bring THE FUNK.
Huey: Ha. That's the funk one yeah. You look at dudes our age, you're like, "hey you're not as funky as Bruno Mars! You can't dance like him." And it's like Yeah. We can. And we can throw it down. Like The Meters. Those guys were in their forties when they were doing some of that stuff and it's like the funkiest stuff ever! They weren't young dudes. You have to learn the funk.
ILM: On behalf of a bunch of our readers (and myself included), I've got to thank you for the continued weekly education in grooves via your BBC 6Music radio show. Are you still enjoying it?
Huey: Yeah! That's the fun bit. Doin' em. The Radio 2 show is cool cos I get to do whatever I want, whatever I think is cool I'll play and people like it! And the 6Music show is a joy because it's live. I don't really enjoy pre-recording 'em. I'd rather do it live. The Sunday show, it's everybody's kind of Sunday afternoon, you know? "Ooo, last night was a dinger. Let's listen to Huey, he'll chill us out." You can actually draw waypoints from doing a radio show to this album 'cos it made me fall in love with music again, enough to make a record you know, enough to wanna get back into the ring. I feel like Rocky. You know, sometimes I think I feel too old for this shit.
ILM: Do you?
Huey: You know, I don't think I am. But I'm too old for the bullshit. And I know where the bullshit lies. So I just steer clear of it.
ILM: Your radio shows still come from your own record collection?
ILM: Can you tell us about it?!
Huey: There's a lot of stuff. I have it all digitally now. It's all stored in a storage locker in New York. So I have my vinyl still but all my harddrives and stuff, there's over 60,000 songs. I haven't even scratched the surface over the last four years, there's so many things in there that I'm still discovering.
ILM: You're a big supporter of vinyl, there's the Vinyl Fetish feature on your show. I know you've said it time and time again, but what is it about vinyl that gets you?
Huey: Yeah, we try to play vinyl on the show. And it's important. Because it sounds so much better than a mp3 or CD would. Other people are up on it too, but it makes you feel good. Not everything is remote control, you gotta get up, turn it over, put the needle on the record, then sit back down. You're a participant in what's going on. That's what's lost now. You can just go duhduhduh and play something. I mean, I can literally right now, play you fucking Hawaiin music off my phone through that stereo. You want it?
ILM: Yeah, go for it.
[Huey puts it on....]
ILM: When did you first realise music could have such an effect on you? What's your earliest memory of it?
Huey: Most definitely when I was at Junior High School. I was in the front row of an assembley and had an amp right in front of me. Some kid comes over, a couple years ahead of us cos I was a freshman, and he just goes "bump bump ba da daa, ba da daaa, ba da da" and played Jumping Jack Flash and it just blew my mind. I was about 12 and every hair on my body stood up, and there weren't many back then, so it was like 'WHHAAAAT?!' That was what got me into guitar and wanting to be a guitar player. That one moment in Junior High School, that was it.
ILM: You've had a really succesful music career, you listen to lots of new music for your radio show - what would be your advice to any aspiring musicians?
Huey: Do it yourself. Do it. For 150 bucks or 150 pounds you can get an m-box or some kind of interface thing and you can use your parents' computer, if you're parents are cool, which they probably are cos you're a musician and they're lettin' ya be one. Or...get a job, save up, get the stuff and just do it yourself. And stumble and fall and find out what you can do and what you can't do and develop your own recording and production style as well as your own music style. You know when we first got our record deal we actually bought SSL manuals so we knew how to mix stuff, all that kind of techno crap, and our Engineer was like, "I can't believe you guys know this stuff, you're calling out numbers!" You need to know every aspect of making a song, from the first strum, the first lyric, to the first fader that you put up. If you can do it all yourself, then the vision that you have in your mind of what the songs means to you, you can actually excercise it. It'll be there. This great thing that came from your heart and your mind, you can create that. Young kids are so much smarter than I am and know a lot more about computers than I do. If I can get a record out, they can definitely do it.
If you're a fan of Huey, then you'll love his album. If you're a fan of funk, soul and blues, then you'll love his album. Say It To My Face is released via Naim Edge Records on 29th October 2012. Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps before making his musical mark, Huey is donating all proceeds from the album to veterans' charities. Get your copy: www.hueyandthenewyorkers.com