- Thu, 2007-03-22 15:40
They've recently completed their own headline tour of UK Libraries and supported Amy Winehouse on her recent tour. And, after a stellar performance on Later With Jools Holland, the release of their debut single and album, and a nod from Zane Lowe, among others, Mr Hudson and The Library have had a great start to the year.
It takes someone with foresight and imagination to pull-off the cross-pollination of hip hop and reggae beats with classic song writing, but in doing so Mr Hudson has hit upon a winning formula. He shares the same DNA as the new breed of British artists who have recently been storming the charts. The Streets, Plan B, Sway and even Lily Allen. Young Britons documenting their lives, their generation, in inspired song .
The band, The Library, was formed just over a year ago when Mr Hudson decided to take his songs on the road. Old time friend and bass player Mapps Huxley was the first to come on board. He was joined by TJ on piano and Wilkie Wilkinson on electric drums. The most inspired addition came in the form of Joy Joseph, bringing steel pan and backing vocal to the party.
I Like Music caught up with TJ and Mapps from Mr Hudson and The Library to talk about touring libraries, their music and going to college (and on tour) with Mika.
“I Like Music because… it’s what I do.” TJ, Mr Hudson And The Library.
“I Like Music because… I couldn’t survive without it.” Mapps, Mr Hudson And The Library.
ILM: Your debut album 'A Tale Of Two Cities' is out now. Can you tell us which track on the album you had the most fun laying down in the studio and why?
TJ: Nice question. I personally really enjoyed recording Ghost. It’s a personal favourite track to play. Me and Ben went into the studio to record that with Toby Smith. Another good track is The Brave The Cold; Take It Somewhere New it’s now being called, with a producer called Dave McCrachan, which was really fun to record.
ILM: You’ve spent the past two months playing a Headline tour and supporting Amy Winehouse.How was the tour of British libraries?
TJ: Yeah, we’ve just finished the Amy Winehouse tour. The tour of the libraries was really interesting and weird, playing in a library, because you’re used to your pubs and clubs, where everyone’s got alcohol in their hands and are dancing around, so it’s a bit more reserved in a library. There were a couple, one in Newport on the Isle of Wight and the first library tour stop, in Warsaw, when I think everyone went to the pub before the show, because the energy was as if you were playing at a bar or a club.
ILM: So it still had that same vibe?
ILM: And it’s additionally weird because you’re not even meant to talk in libraries, you have to whisper, and there you guys are bashing out your music.
TJ: Yeah. There wasn’t much whispering going on.
ILM: Any amusing anecdotes or highlights from touring with Ms Winehouse?
ILM: To be honest all of them were pretty good, because we were playing in front of a crowd of 2000 people a night, which has been really nice, from the library tours where there’s probably 150 people, so it was great, just to see that vast amount of people in front of you is just great. It makes us step up our game a lot more and put it out.
ILM: What’s your current favourite track to play live and highlight of the recent tour?
Mapps: Tale Of Two Cities, there’s a remix version of it, that’s always very good live. It features an epic solo from TJ. I enjoy that it and it always gets a great reception. I love playing One Specific Thing, that’s probably my favourite song. And then it was really nice, because the single, Too Late Too Late had come out and we closed the set with it every time, because people knew it, it was weird.
ILM: People singing back at you and stuff?
Mapps: Yeah exactly, but you know what it’s like if you go to a gig, if you know the songs it’s better, you enjoy it more if you know the song already. So we got our first flush of that, which was great. People actually knowing one of your songs.
TJ: Tale Of Two Cities for me, just because it’s got a piano solo in, so I get to shine. It’s just a great work, structurally, it’s an epic piece. So that’s a good one to release and sweat.
ILM: You guys create this incredibly brilliant fusion of hip hop and reggae beats with classic song writing. Can you describe the Mr Hudson and The Library process of making such ace music please?
Mapps: Ben writes the songs and the lyrics, and we’ll jam. Especially in the live sound, what I really love about it is that all five of us have very different record collections and you suddenly find a bit… you just say that suddenly turned a bit calypso, and you’ll know that was because of Joy, or TJ will do something very reminiscent of classical music and you’ll know it was from him. There are influences coming from five very different poles, so that’s the real pleasure of this band.
ILM: Definitely, and that mixture of sounds and energy makes it enjoyable to listen to as well.
Mapps: Personally, one of the things I always thought about with this band, was The Specials; I really like The Specials and the way they gave so much energy on stage. I don’t think we can really compete with The Specials yet, but I love the way they take West Indian music and English music and just made something really exciting and modern out of it. It’s true to what Britain’s like now, rather than exclusively white or exclusively black.
ILM: I agree, creating an energetic fusion and getting that diversity in the music is definitely a good call.
TJ: It’s fun, because you don’t know what to expect. So we all turn up at The Library aka Ben’s house or recording studio and we just jam and see what comes up really. I’m looking forward to doing that and working on the second album to be honest, and do different things, and see what happens with this debut album. We’re all really excited about it and just hope it does well.
ILM: Well, the moment you performed on Later With Jools Holland I became a fan. How was that whole experience, performing on that show with loads of other great musicians?
Mapps: It was terrifying really, because the Scissor Sisters were there, who are obviously a huge band. The Good The Bad And The Queen were there, featuring not only Damon Albarn, and I was a teenager through Brit Pop and in the ‘noughties’ he’s just done a series of really great albums, so I think he’s brilliant. And Paul Simonon, ex-The Clash, in the same band! I’m a bassist and he’s the most definitely cool bassist of all time. So it was terrifying and you really do just get one crack at the song. So we felt like new boys at school, like first years.
ILM: Your new single, Too Late Too Late is out now. It’s a semi-autobiographical tale, and Zane Lowe declared it 'hottest record in the world'. How did that feel?
Mapps: When I see Zane Lowe I shall tell him I think he’s a brilliant man, with exquisite taste.
ILM: You’ll have to buy him a lemonade.
Mapps: I’ll buy him a bottle.
ILM: What are your plans for the summer?
Mapps: We’ve been lined-up for quite a few festivals I think, although we can’t reveal all of them yet, but definitely The Great Escape, which we’re really looking forward to. I’d like to think Glastonbury, which amazingly I’ve never been to Glastonbury, even though I’ve been a music fan all this time. It’s like I was too cool for Glastonbury, I won’t come to you unless I’m playing.
TJ: I’m looking forward to going abroad. We’ve got a Mika tour in April, we’re touring with Mika, so that should be real fun. I knew Mika from college, we went to same college together, so it’s going to be great fun to see him again and catch up and have a laugh and share the same stage with him. So I’m really looking forward to that. We’re doing a tour of Europe from April 4th-14th, and Glastonbury, that’s the real big one for me. It’s unbelievable.