Mattafix’s debut LP, Signs of a Struggle, has single-handedly injected the band into as many countries as you have teeth. The first single, “Big City Life” not only perfectly captures its namesake, it’s also catchy as hell. Now, on the eve of the release of the new single, “Cool Down the Pace”, the boys, Marlon Roudette and Preetesh Hirji, are gearing up for their second tour of Australia, this year headlining Parklife.
Tell me about the live show – what kind of action will you be bringing to the stage? We’re bringing all the musicians along for the tour, so there will be five of us on stage together. We just translate everything live and enjoy ourselves. There will be some new tracks in there, I think. As I said though, we’re still riding the first album, and I’m enjoying playing the music still. We haven’t seen any need to start drastically changing the set. We have our MC Ben Allen, who is a very talented guitarist and well-known in London. He put together a group of guys, Chris Hamby on bass, Jason Smith on the drums. Pre brings his studio to trigger off his mad sounds and samples. We wanted to make a breathable live show that moves and it’s quite human and organic. It’s a very different experience live. It is much more rewarding minute by minute. You see people dancing, singing along and getting into it.
How has the album fared around the world thus far? We released “Big City Life” in Europe and did loads of promotion for that, and then went on holiday and watched it climb the charts in six territories. It was an amazing feeling, especially on your first single. Since then we have been inundated with support and requests to play in crazy places around the world. We love every minute of it. The album hasn’t always penetrated in the same way as the singles, though. In some territories we are just a pop song, which is fine; I’ll take that hands down. It is definitely more rewarding when you play a show somewhere and people dig the album, because the album is from a left field place.
You and Preetesh have both been involved with music for years. How is the Mattafix project different from what you have done in the past I think it’s different in that we have invested more in it emotionally. It is our record. It had to be right, and under the right circumstances. We had some songs that we were so passionate about that we didn’t want to let anyone else perform them. That’s why we became a group.
Are you writing more music yet? We have started the second album, because we didn’t want to get caught out. We have been writing and writing and recording loads. We are a good way into it now. We’ve been around long enough to realise you have to be continually creative in this game, otherwise you get caught with two weeks to make a record, then you’re like, shit! We incorporate a lot more of our live atmosphere into the new record. The first album has a naivety that is great, but I want to move on from there. I think the second record is going to be a few steps forward.
How has living on the road affected the way you write and play music? When you start travelling, you start meeting lots of different people who have suffered quite a lot more than we have, and that becomes more important to you. It becomes people’s music. We played Israel this year a week before it all kicked off with Lebanon. We’ve played Russia and Poland – places with a tumultuous history. That puts your own background into perspective and you start to want to write music that people can identify with.
How is London treating you, as musicians? Has success made big city life any easier? At the moment, it doesn’t matter a whole lot because we’re never here. We get two days and we just sleep and eat and wash our clothes and leave again. Pre and I aren’t really interested in living it up just yet, in terms of sitting back and taking into account what we’ve done and partying for weeks and weeks in celebration. I think we would probably invest most of our money back into the studio, which we’ve done. We have spent far too much money on studio equipment. Pre has a quite active family scene in India that he helps support. I have the same in St Vincent. I doubt you’re going to see us investing in any platinum bling or anything in the near future. –
Signs Of A Struggle is out now thru EMI.