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A Dirty Dozen with WOLF RED of BAMBOO STAR – January 2019

| 31 January 2019 | Reply

 

According to a recent press release: “Iconic voice. Lightning guitar. Addictive bass. Relentless drums. Bamboo Star hails from diverse influences, and they are every bit as interesting and culturally unique as their hometown of Hong Kong. Like their fast-paced city, Bamboo Star’s music is high-energy and full of witty, lyrical punchlines. Their ballads are magnetic, causing crowds to wave their fists in the air. The band has recorded a collection of songs with LA-based producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Airbourne, Shinedown) and is now releasing their EP No Hard Feelings. The EP was pre-launched into college radio in November 2018 and has hit #8 on the NACC Heavy Top 30 as of the first week of December 2018.” We get singer Wolf Red to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

No Hard Feelings is our second release and compared to the first, the musicianship is more ferocious, arrangements are more focused, riffs and patterns are more experimental and songwriting topics more explosive. Another big change is sonically the recordings are much more sophisticated. While the first record was made very indie,which has its own charm, No Hard Feelings was recorded in Los Angeles with Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Marylin Manson, Alice Cooper, Shinedown) so we definitely stepped up the production quality. As for any nuggets, the bonus track is a Cantonese version of “Ivory Tower” and has quite a lot of references and wordplay that Hong Kongers will pick up. It’s a language only spoken in the most southern parts of China, and in particular,“Hong Kong Cantonese” is extremely slang-heavy and mixes in a lot of English (since it was a British colony for over 100 years). Having cut our teeth on the Hong Kong scene, this track was for those in the home turf who stuck with us through the years.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I learned piano and saxophone in school and growing up in Australia, rock and metal music was always around. Bands like Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and AC/DC were always on the radio. The moment I figured I wanted to play in a band though was one Saturday morning when I was fifteen or so. They were playing retro music videos on TV and there was just this clip of Nikki Sixx playing a warlock bass whilst literally on fire. My teenage brain thought that was the most awesome thing in the world and that I wanted to give that a go. After actually playing and making music it became so much more (and I have yet to light myself on fire).

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

So of course, there’s Mötley Crüe and bands of that era that really made an impact on me – Guns N’ Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, etc. Mötley Crüe had reunited a few years after I started playing in bands and toured in Sydney so that was one of the first major rock shows I watched. They were supported by Motörhead too, so it was just this insane circus of flying drums, pyrotechnics, extended solos etc. and that really shaped what kind of music and performance I wanted to do if I ever had the chance. Of course, everything is scaled but the idea of an over-the-top, loud, rebellious, fun atmosphere really stuck with me. Vocally I prefer higher registers cutting through a thick instrumental base so that really comes from that school of Rob Halford/Bruce Dickenson/Sebastian Bach. Mind you, this is just me personally. When you listen to Bamboo Star you’ll hear a mix of Opeth, Dream Theatre, Slipknot and Red Hot Chili Peppers in there too.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

In no particular order, Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row/Sebastian Bach, Guns N’ Roses and spinoffs (Slash + Myles Kennedy), X Japan.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I wanted to say Slash at first but he’s such a heavy influence on us already! Instead, I think it would be awesome to produce a song with Eminem. His lyricism has some influence on my writing but what we do musically is so drastically different that it could make for a really interesting track. We have soaring melodies and blues-metal solos but none of us rap.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Bamboo Star makes high-energy tunes which are an eclectic but catchy combo of rock n’ roll riffs, funky bass parts and an underlying intense metal drum beat. We like big, melodic choruses, loads of vocal harmony and fast, bluesy solos. Our music has such a mix of different rock styles that a lot of people compare us to different sounds. One comparison that was meant in a positive way but I can’t exactly agree with – we’ve had a reviewer say that some of my lyrics and melody sounded like Chad Kroger wrote them!

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

I imagine almost every musician will feel this too, but the best thing is when you lock in and you’re just in the song. For just those three or four minutes, all the problems in the world, all the stresses in life – everything outside of that moment just fade away. This happens when the frustrations, sadness, passions or excitement all gets channeled into a very focused execution of the music. I’m fortunate enough to have a chance to sometimes share that moment with an audience, and when someone else listening from the outside also locks into that, then it really is the very best thing.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Occasionally we’ll hang out at mine instead of the rehearsal room. I’m not bad in the kitchen so I frequently cook for everyone. When he’s not drumming, Lawrence bartends and is a coffee nerd so he’s in charge of the drinks. Jasmine (bass) will politely bring dessert from home or takeout. Terence (guitar) will normally be “supervising” from the couch with the acoustic in hand.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

We were recording No Hard Feelings at Bob Marlette’s December 2017. We were already feeling the Hollywood vibes when he’d mess with us by saying things like (just as I’m about to do a vocal part) “Don’t get nervous now, but Rob Halford recorded on this mic… just saying!”. Anyway,Christmas rolls around and he invites us to his Christmas party and we end up hanging out with Rudy Sarzo from Whitesnake/Ozzy Osbourne and Teddy Zig-Zag Andreadis from Guns N’ Roses/Alice Cooper. It eased out quickly though because they were both very chilled guys.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

I’ve said before that music is my preferred creative outlet and that it’s the best medium for saying certain things, but not the only one. Anything else I work in would probably still have an art/design aspect to it. My background is in architecture, so I’d default to designing buildings! I have worked on all sorts of stuff in that field too, and I have a particularly soft spot for residential design.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I’m not sure if the scenes overseas are like this but the scene in Hong Kong is comparatively small and each sub-genre has their niche audience. As the performers, we are also partly responsible for growing communities by bridging musical styles. Bamboo Star what somewhat of a “swiss army knife” band and would sometimes play alongside punk or metal groups as well as pop artists, but I truly wish we did more shows like that. Especially when we’re talking underground acts, just breaking out. Musicians and music fans should need to support each other’s shows-some things are bigger than genre.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

While I think Paranoid was a better album song-wise, there is absolutely no doubt of Black Sabbath’s significance in music history. It would be mind-blowing to go back and be a fly on the wall for the recording of that album. The whole thing was supposedly done in a single day in 1969. It’d be safe to bet to say that even the band would never have imagined their record starting the entire metal genre.With those bell tolls and that iconic opening three notes, they started a family tree whose diverse branches continue to grow strong even in 2019!

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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