Melbourne nine piece The Bamboos have announced their first Australian tour in over three years to launch their 10th, and arguably their finest yet, studio album, Hard Up. The tour is a belated chance to celebrate across the country their 21 years together. They’ve also unveiled the video for If Not Now (Then When) featuring guest vocals from US soul star Durand Jones.
Released via their worldwide deal with BMG, Hard Up has been their biggest album to date overseas, cracking the top 20 in the influential US Triple A album radio chart in the US, beating out recent releases from the likes of Arlo Parks, Rag ’N’ Bone Man and Jungle. Airplay has also grown in Europe and the UK with the Hard Up awarded feature album in June by popular French national music station FIP, plays on BBC2 and BBC6 Music in the UK.
With his band The Indications, Durand Jones’s albums released on Colemine Records / Dead Oceans have received wide acclaim and draw inspiration upon a similar era of Soul music as The Bamboos. “When The Bamboos sent a message my way that they would like to collaborate” said Jones, “I chose the tune that sounded the least like anything The Indications would do. It was a challenge for me, but I think it came out with a gospel, soul, and pop vibe that makes me smile every time I hear it.”
The Bamboos are undoubted pioneers of Funk & Soul in Australia, and this album and tour are a consolidation of the now 21 years of hard graft in getting Australian Soul music accepted both here and worldwide. Formed in 2000 by guitarist and bandleader Lance Ferguson during the now revered early noughties Deep Funk revival, amongst the likes of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings they held their own against the overwhelming tide of rock music at Australian venues and stages in the early to mid 2000s. Vocalist Kylie Auldist joined the band in 2007 after debuting with a legendary late set at Meredith Music Festival. In a short space of time they became one of the first local Funk & Soul live drawcards, establishing a loyal following and a peerless reputation as one of the best live bands in the country regardless of genres.
International attention came quickly (and arguably quicker than at home) and they were the first Australian funk / soul act to be signed to an overseas label and then the first to tour overseas, blowing away audiences across Europe and the UK three times over.
They soon evolved into a more complex blend of modern song writing and classic soul arrangements, appealing to both purist fans of the genre as much as casual music fans by focusing on what’s important: song writing, groove and powerful vocals. Along the way have been nominated for five ARIA Awards, three APRA Awards and have been invited to play many of the country’s top music festivals. They hit Triple J’s Hottest 100 and commercial radio airplay with the now iconic I Got Burned with Tim Rogers on vocals. That winning combination then led to an acclaimed album and two national tours. They’ve blown away audiences everywhere from The Jazz Café in London to Tokyo to playing in front of 15,000 at Womadelaide.
From a time where soul music was rare to see on Australian stages and heard on the radio The Bamboos have helped forge a scene where it’s now not just important locally but making waves globally. Their impact on what would become the now world-famous Melbourne Soul scene is undeniable, blazing a path and inspiring so many locals to play, record and explore new ideas in Soul, Funk, Jazz and Beats. They sowed the seeds for acts getting worldwide attention such as Hiatus Kaiyote, Winston Surfshirt, 30/70 Collective & Allysha Joy, Kaiit, Emma Donovan & The Putbacks and even Chet Faker (who was included on the Soul Of Melbourne compilation Ferguson co-compiled in 2012). The band’s influence has even spread to overseas soul artists and labels, with the likes of Colemine Records (Durand Jones’ original label) citing them as an inspiration to start putting out music. “Groups like The Bamboos, The Dap-Kings, and Orgone were truly formative and inspiring when I was first thinking about starting a record label” said label founder Terry Cole. “Can’t thank all those trailblazers enough!”
The band have hit some other local heights in 2021, first with the full 50 piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra reimagining their catalogue in the show ‘Symphonic Soul’ at the iconic Hamer Hall in March and then to a sold out Corner Hotel in April, which was viewed by fans all over the world on their first ever livestream.
Tickets and info from www.thebamboos.com