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Interview: Jeramiah Ferrari

Interview: Jeramiah Ferrari

Interview: Jeramiah Ferrari

By on - Photos by Cloverleaf Images - Comment

"We get known as Manchester Reggae, but it's universal, isn't it?"


Jeramiah Ferrari is the name of an up-and-coming, and unusually young band out of the north-west of England, playing reggae and ska to an equally young audiences. They are attracting a lot of attention on the Manchester scene these days, and I was interested to meet up with them and find out more.

Jeramiah Ferrari

How long have you guys been together?

Ryan Barton (vocals/ guitar): We've been together now for two years, that's been just writing original material for two years now. We all played in other bands before that, just kind of doing the pub circuit, just doing covers, we were pretty much like a rock covers band before...

Stuart Welch (drums): Like Sex Pistols, The Who, all that kind of stuff.

Ryan Barton: Yeah, covering stuff like that, but me, Josh, and Anson, we started dropping some reggae songs in it and Stuart's band started copying us!

Stuart Welch: There's no evidence he played it first...

Ryan Barton: There is evidence...

Stuart Welch: It is a coincidence and I can understand you guys thinking like that. It's in the past and we can move on, like mature and sensible adults! (laughs)

Ryan Barton: Yes, both bands started playing reggae and ska music and so... we just got a bit sick of doing the cover scene really. We wanted to push original material, so that's what we started doing, we formed Jeramiah Ferrari.

The posters bill you as "Manchester Reggae" - what do you understand by that?

Hanson Pollitt (bass): That's what we wanted to do...

Joshua Aitchison (guitar): Just because we're from Manchester, we get known as Manchester Reggae, but it's universal, isn't it? The music doesn't have a label to a certain place

Stuart Welch: It's just 'cos we're based in Manchester, really. If we were based anywhere else, it would be the name of the place that we're from

Ryan Barton: Because it's not like... vocally from my side, you probably can't even tell that we're from Manchester...

So far, you've done a single, 'The Mighty Sparrow'...

Hanson Pollitt: A vinyl record...

Ryan Barton: Yeah, we released it on 7 inch vinyl.

That's an interesting title..

Ryan Barton: Yes, it was about a calypso musician, and the song was actually just about him.

We take all our influences from the classic stuff, and then just try and form it in our own way

Then you've done the two EPs?

Ryan Barton: Yes, the first one was the "Cactus Killer" EP, and that was done on a massive budget - that was when we had no money at all!

Hanson Pollitt: Literally a budget of nothing. We had to get there on the bus...

Ryan Barton: I think the only thing we actually paid for was the bus. Oh, we paid some money for the art-work as well. That was done on a really tight budget. We just went to Salford University, went to the Music Department and got the music students to record us. But we have sold out all of them now, we have no more. It went down well with the fans and it got us to this point.

Hanson Pollitt: Now we have the "Dubby Rock" EP. It's doing the rounds, it's been on BBC Radio, we got that and it's spreading.

Where do you see yourselves in relation to the traditional reggae scene?

Ryan Barton: Well, we were saying the other day that we're like the 2012 stamp on reggae. We take all our influences from the classic stuff, and then just try and form it in our own way, try and put our own sound together.Not really intentionally trying to create a new sound. The influences are 60s reggae, 70s reggae, the 80s, punk and ska. That's where we started it.

Hanson Pollitt: It's just basically stripped down basic reggae, we layer over it.

Yes, 'Island Girl' has a rootsy feel, with layers on top.

Ryan Barton: That's the fun of it, to not do something that's not just reggae alone. I like music that has different influences, different genres, and that makes it more fun.

Who would you say your influences are?

Ryan Barton: Sublime are a huge influence on us...

Stuart Welch: Definitely!

Ryan Barton: ...Steel Pulse another one...

Stuart Welch: Toots & The Maytals really influenced me. Ten Foot Ganja Plant you said the other day They got me into reggae. I first heard them and it was like, "They sound amazing!" I just kept on listening to reggae.

Ryan Barton: It's strange, we all listen to reggae, but we all kind of listen to different sub-genres of reggae. I'd say I listen to a lot of roots reggae, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh.

Hanson Pollitt: I listen to dub, Prince Jammy, King Tubby, and we all like Lee "Scratch" Perry.

Ryan Barton: I think that's why we have like a roots reggae vibe and we all come together and create something that's from all those influences.

We seem to play a lot of gigs for the 18 to 24 market

And what about the ska influences?

Ryan Barton: I think the ska influences that we have come more from the American side of ska...

Joshua Aitchison: Yes, bands like Less Than Jake...

Ryan Barton: Yes, like Sublime, Less Than Jake have more a punk style than we do.

Joshua Aitchison: I've never really listened too much to that kind of Ska.

Stuart Welch: I think some of it is second-hand listening, you hear it on the radio or you hear it on the TV and you pick it up and you just put in into your own music.

You worked with The Beat (UK) - what was that like?

Ryan Barton: That was a great gig, a really good gig.

Hanson Pollitt: They're a good band, good vibes. Quite a few people there as well...

Ryan Barton: I think it was packed full to capacity.

Hanson Pollitt: We got really good feedback from the audience. We seem to play a lot of gigs for the 18 to 24 market, it was good to play to a wider spectrum of people.

You supported The Aggrolites as well...

Jeramiah FerrariRyan Barton: Yeah, The Aggrolites was cool. That was in Moho in Manchester. They're an amazing ska band...

Stuart Welch: Tight band!

Ryan Barton: Probably one of the greatest bands we've seen! It's good to get our name (associated) to those kind of bands as well.

OK, tell me about the track 'Mindless Riots'... is that becoming a kind of theme song for you?

Ryan Barton: I think so. Definitely, yes, it has helped us. It has just hit 14,000 views on Youtube. People ask for it at gigs a lot.

Joshua Aitchison: It's one of our most well-known songs, just because it's got a video and it's on Youtube, and people like it as well. They're always singing it at gigs, it's one of the songs people shout for. People shout for that one most out of our songs.

Stuart Welch: We would say that others of our songs are just as strong as that, it's just that that one has a video and has had the most exposure.

Joshua Aitchison: It did bring a lot of good attention from the press as well, with a lot of bands these days afraid to say anything, or put it out there. We just went for it, we got some stick for it...

Ryan Barton: We got a lot of stick!

Stuart Welch: People kept threatening us, wanting to fight - no joke!

Ryan Barton: The controversy has been good for us - there's no such thing as bad press. All we've done is speak our opinion about it and put it out there. Another thing, because it's the only video we've got at the moment, I think people probably hear that song and think we're a really, really, really political band, which we're actually not. We're not afraid to talk about politics, but we don't just write about that, we write all different kinds of songs about all different kinds of things. We're going to do a new video soon.

'Mindless Riots' - we got some stick for that!

How do you go about your writing?

Joshua Aitchison: It's different every time. Sometimes I'll bring an idea to practise or Ryan'll bring an idea, sometimes we work on it together.

Hanson Pollitt: Sometimes we'll just write one in practise, I'll get a bass-line, and Stuart will start playing a drum-beat.

Joshua Aitchison: 'Mindless Riots' just formed in that way. We basically just wrote it in a practise. just about what was happening, and we all has an input in that. It just really changes from song to song.

Ryan Barton: With 'Mindless Riots' we were actually up here watching one of the many TVs that are around, watching the news. We were watching it for around an hour, and we just went downstairs, just writing. It just came out in one practise. It was really good. But maybe me and Josh will write together, maybe bring a song to practise or maybe we'll just start playing and get a jam going and try and write off that. Keep going back to it until it seems right.

Where do you see yourselves going in the future?

Joshua Aitchison: That's a tough question.

Ryan Barton: I don't even think about the future, to be honest.

Joshua Aitchison: We want to increase our fan-base, play more gigs more spread-out, and more head-lining gigs. Conquer England first, then Scotland and Wales, then Europe! Just to gig as much as possible, really, get as much exposure as possible, keep writing material, and just to expand.

Ryan Barton: Just to increase the fan-base and sell out headlining shows.

Anything else you want to say?

Hanson Pollitt: We've got some new videos coming out. We're going to be including some new tracks online too. To keep in touch with us, you can check us out on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. That's about it.

OK, guys, thanks very much!

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