23 November 2012

CC Smugglers release their debut album New Roots Music

CC Smugglers

CC Smugglers release their debut album New Roots Music

Innovative self-promotion describes Bedfordshire band CC Smugglers. Their creative, hardworking outlook should be textbook material for any new band starting out. Guerilla style busking has seen them admired by the likes of Seasick Steve, Jools Holland and the BBC Introducing team, who have booked them onto numerous festival stages. Their inventive strategies have played into the hands of DJs Fearne Cotton and Huw Stephens who have aired their music on their Radio 1 shows, and not many alt-country bands can say that.

CC Smugglers release their debut album “New Roots Music”  on February 25th on Cabin Records.  The band are made up of six lads from Bedfordshire, fronted by singer Richie Prynne on lead vocals, harmonica and banjo; Ryan Thomas on lead guitar, banjo and dobro; Dan Edwards on double bass and backing vocals; Sam Barrett on rhythm guitar; Dave Marks on piano and trombone, and Sparky on drums and ukulele.

 “New Roots” was recorded in Monnow Valley Recording Studios, Wales, (following in the footsteps of such high-profile acts as Led Zeppelin, Pulp, The Coral, Portishead and Iggy Pop), after the guys won their studio time as a prize for Best Act at Rockfield Country Music Festival.  The album was mastered by Kevin Metcalfe who has worked with legends like Paul McCartney, The Clash, ELO and The Prodigy.

Richie explains;  “New Roots Music represents a distillations of a varied concoction of influences; we got so tired of trying to define our genre and not feeling comfortable in any one pigeon hole, we decided to brand our own distinct style, hence the album title”. The album takes its inspiration from the likes of Tom Waits, Muddy Waters, Old Crow Medicine Show, Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers, Seasick Steve, Doc Watson and Hank Williams III to name a few. The album  is packed with uptempo country blues songs, tinged with a rock ‘n’ roll spirit.

Having spent two years constantly on the road playing small venues and ‘guerilla’ busking around the UK and as far a field as Paris, the latter seeing the band make 900 Euros in just four hours, the boys also have to juggle day jobs: Dan, Ryan and Richie are support workers for adults with learning disabilities, Sparky works as an English teacher, Sam a hospital porter and Dave is a music teacher.

The band have had the pleasure of receiving high accolades from the likes of Seasick Steve and even Jools Holland, who invited them all into his Kew Gardens gig, after he heard them busking outside. “I threw our demo at Jools and it narrowly missed his face, which was a bit embarrassing", admits Richie. "However, it did result in him picking it up and taking it away with him".

Richie met Seasick at The Cambridge Folk Festival and then before the rest of the band knew what was going on, they were off to his London gig at Hammersmith Apollo, where the band spent over an hour busking to his queuing audience outside the gig, with the bet that if they could raise enough money they would all use it to buy tickets to watch Seasick Steve play. Sadly, the gig was sold out, but by a stroke of luck the people at the box office who had watched some of their performance,  told Steve, who came out to put £20 in their case and invited them all into the gig, after telling them to “keep playing”.

The Seasick Steve story continues with the boys turning up to his album launch show at The Lexington and busking outside. Remembering them, Steve came out again and gave the boys each a free copy of his album. Additionally, he invited them to busk outside his birthday show at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, where their VIP passes arranged by Seasick Steve were waiting for them at the door on arrival.

The boys' determination has certainly found them in some bizarre situations. Never ones to miss a trick and waste an opportunity CC Smugglers found themselves being played on Radio 1’s Fearne Cotton show. Having heard Fearne talking tongue-in-cheek about starting a Radio 1 country show, they set to work that evening writing a jingle for “Fearne’s Country Show”.  By the morning they had recorded a jingle and baked Fearne a cake, driven down to London, presented her with the jingle and cake, and “hey presto” Fearne played their jingle on the show. Similarly, at a Radio 1 Musicians Master Class that Huw Stephens was running at Abbey Road, the guys attended and gave Huw their album, which resulted in him playing a track on his Radio 1 show.

Ever the opportunists CC Smugglers saw themselves setting out another cunning plan. This time the idea got their tracks aired on ITV’s Coronation Street and Emmerdale amongst other programmes. The band got wind that Ade Edmonson was visiting Bedfordshire to record a feature about the ‘Bedfordshire Clanger’, a local pie, for his folk music and cookery programme “Ade In Britain”. The boys quickly set to work recording a song about the “Bedfordshire Clanger” which sadly never got used, but it did allow them to build a relationship with ITV, who took their album and registered it in their library.

Richie explains that Nashville based band Old Crow Medicine Show have been one of the biggest influences on CC Smugglers to date, so much so that the British Band are taking their guerilla busking to another level, and are all set to  travel around the UK and Ireland busking outside Old Crows gigs in the new year. “We hope to create a good atmosphere and warm the crowds up, queuing to get into one of their legendary shows, for which we will be buying as many tickets as we can possibly afford, and you never know we may strike lucky and get invited to hang with the band at an after party”.

CC Smugglers aren’t like most new bands waiting to get that big support slot with their idols. They have undeniably taken the bull by the horns themselves and already busked outside some of their desired artists’ gigs. “We say if you think big, most of the time you will achieve big results”, states Richie. This is certainly the case for CC Smugglers who have caught the attention of some of the musicians and radio DJs they most admire, using this to their benefit to expand their own fan base and their rapidly accelerating musical career.

With their decidedly untraditional Americana, the boys' music lives up to their outlandish approach to publicity, and with their vintage collars matching the cuffs, CC Smugglers utilise novel techniques to prove assuredly that they are far more than a novelty.

New Roots Music is released on February 25th on Cabin Records.

1 comment:

  1. Wow these guys are awesome, I wish i'd discovered them before!!