It’s funny how these things come about. I was on my way to work listening to Romesh Ranganathan’s podcast Hip Hop Saved My Life when the interviewee Ben “ExP” Goodwin mentioned that he was from West Yorkshire. With most of the acts coming from London or America this definitely stood out for me so I made a point of checking out his frankly stunning solo album RemarkableUnremarkable before also delving into the back catalogue of his band Flame Griller. I was expecting good things but not of the level that came through, able to jump from up beat Hip Hop ala Jurassic 5 or De La Soul in one song or verse to a more cerebral darker sound evoking MF Doom or Wu Tang Clan the next I was totally drawn in.
I ordered the ExP solo album and was pleasantly surprised when it was hand delivered by the man himself who came in for a cup of tea and a chat. It must have been a good cup of tea (Yorkshire Tea of course) as within a week we had Flame Griller signed up to play for us. I cannot recommend checking out both of their albums “I” and “II” enough, as well as the ExP solo album and the Tough Crowd albums that the band are also involved with.
For now I’ll leave you with some words from the band then come down and enjoy on April 28th (as of now there are five tickets left so get in quick!).
What’s your names and where do you come from?
ExP (Ben) – Bradford/Leeds, JND (Luke) Bradford, Addverse (Dan) Brighouse/Huddersfield, Versatile (Dan) Middlesbrough/Leeds
How does a Hip Hop band get formed in West Yorkshire?
It happens more often than you’d think! ExP & JND met through a mutual friend at a hip-hop night in Bradford in a Revolution bar about 15 years ago, we played a gig in 2006ish alongside a group Addverse was in and over the years worked with him on various projects until one stuck. Rappers tend to collaborate a lot! Sometimes it’s a one off just for a track but sometimes you realise you work well together on music in general and that’s how things come together as a group/band/crew/etc
How does a song come together? Is it a collaborative effort or does one of you tend to come along with a lyric or beat?
It totally varies but yeah in a nutshell someone will supply a beat either that they’ve made or they’ve found that we can use, or that’s been sent to us. Then someone, not always the same person, will put a verse and/or chorus to it – then it’s up to the other two to jump on board if they like it or can get with the vibe of it. There’s one or two tracks we’ve pretty much written when we were all together from scratch, and also some where we got a live band in, made some loops out of it, then wrote to it.
Top puddings of all members?
If you had to pick five songs that had the biggest influence on the band what would they be?
Blackstar – Thieves in the Night
Kev Brown – Albany
Ugly Duckling – The Drive-Thru
Pharcyde – Runnin’
De La Soul – Oodles of Os
What current bands are you listening to that we should check out?
Snazzback, Kiefer, Haitus Kaiyote, Alfa Mist
How did the interview with Romesh Ranganathan come about?
Frankie Boyle got on to us and went on Romesh’s show and talked about us, then Romesh got in touch. Nice one!
Best and worst gigs you’ve had?
We’ve had a lot of worst gigs. It would be wrong to single them out in an interview though. It’s mainly due to poor acoustics, bad turnout, bad organisation when it’s gone wrong. The best ones were pretty much all in Corby, Northamptonshire for the guys who put on RockedUp events, and the best one in Yorkshire was put on by Lyrical Alliance at Santiagos.
Some bands seem to shy away from crowd funding but you seem to have really made it work, how do you think you made this work?
Good supporters. It’s all about the people who listen to us who made that happen. We don’t like to say “fans” that makes it sound too sycophantic, the people that choose to listen to us and support the music we make are our heroes.
What would your top tips be for younger people trying to start a band?
Keep making, keep destroying, try not to put everything on social media at the start. Do it for love and for the fun of it, make mistakes and things start clicking. The only successful people I’ve ever seen in music don’t stop regardless of knock backs and have enough inner confidence to back themselves.
What can people expect at your gig on April 28th?