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OX meets Easy Star All-Stars

Easy Star All-Stars shot to notoriety after the release of Dub Side of the Moon, a track-for-track reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, which was met with critical acclaim across the world
"Generally, in the UK, we get a lot of love so it’s one of our favourite places to play and the UK audience completely gets what we’re trying to do."

The follow-up to Easy Star All-Stars’ Dub Side of the Moon was Radiodread (2006), a reimagining of Radiohead’s OK Computer that – with the help of guests such as Toots & the Maytals – helped cement their position as one of the most innovative and stylish cover bands around.

The band’s current UK tour revisits the Radiodread material on its 10th anniversary.

OX’s Jack Telford caught up with drummer Ivan Katz and trombonist Buford O’Sullivan before their show at the Bullingdon.

How have the shows been going so far?

So far, great. We’ve only had three shows but we’ve had great crowds and loved every second of it.

How does it feel to go back to the Radiodread album after 10 years?

It’s fun. Some of the songs get a little dark, such as ‘Exit Music’, there are some really interesting progressions that happen so it’s fun to bring those back but also bring in ‘Dub Side’ and as well as our originals that we rock as a band too. When we released it, it wasn’t intentional to only cover dope British bands but Radiohead appeals to a different generation as an anthem rock band so it was a cool contrast to the ‘Dub Side’ album.

When you were deciding to do Radiodread, were there any other choices?

With every time we go to make an album, there’s a bunch of options on the table – there’s always lots of possibilities that come up. It’s fun when people make guesses – they are always good guesses! We always try to go for anything that makes a huge impact – album-wise – so the only criteria is that we deal with full albums that are wonderful, that is why we can go from Pink Floyd to Michael Jackson.

When you made Radiodread, did Radiohead themselves get in touch?

They liked it – Thom Yorke really liked ‘Let Down’ especially.

With there being so many guests on the album, how does that translate to the live circuit?

The recording projects are in and of themselves, so it is a separate thing - we hire in special guests to play all sorts of instruments. Although we play on all the albums, we are also the down-and-dirty road team that goes out and plays the shows.

There has previously been some trouble gaining permission to do certain albums, what elements of your versions changed the artists’ mind to allow you to cover it?

I could only make a guess, but once these people had listened to and digested our versions, then they would see that it is not just covering it but doing something totally cool and totally different. As it’s a reggae arrangement, it’s drastically different as opposed to someone covering it and it being the same – ours is a reinvention, a whole other thing. As artists, we are inspired by imitating but if we can imitate then we can also make it our own somehow. They saw that we had a concept and we did it justice – that would be my guess.

You played in Oxford at the Zodiac about 10 years ago. Do you have any memories of that gig?

Yeah, I remember it being down the street, we played upstairs. It was a really great show with great energy. Generally, in the UK, we get a lot of love so it’s one of our favourite places to play and the UK audience completely gets what we’re trying to do.

Does the fact that Radiohead hail from Oxford hold any significance in your set?

That does hold a certain significance, as this is the epicenter of the songs that we are playing – the crowd embraces it that bit more.

Finally, what’s in the pipeline for the future?

We’re working on records currently, but it’s top-secret – we’re not allowed to tell or we’ll be killed! There’s going to be another tribute album, something really dope as well as working on original material and a new single of ‘High & Dry’ which we’re playing on this tour too.

- Jack Telford


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