Sunday, September 11, 2011

EXCLUSIVE! Bottletop Band Intv!

With a revolving door of musicians and one constant idea, The Bottletop Band was formed with the thesis of taking British musicians and mixing them with Brazilian music. The band is a supergroup of sorts featuring Carl Barat, Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys, Drew McConnell of Babyshambles, Eliza Doolittle and many others all under the composition of Mario Caldato, Jr. The Bottletop Band are more than a band, but an idea - a charitable one at that, as everything they release and do goes directly to the Bottletop Charity. The charity supports initiatives in Brazil, Malawi, Rwanda, Mozambique on issues of sexual and reproductive health, substance abuse and gender equality. In a very special interview, we spoke with Drew McConnell about the band, their work and what the charity means to him.

How did the band come together? Who called who to start the project?

Well I got the call from John McClure, who I had met when working on a project with a charity called Crisis. He had the Sheffield people onboard. So i called a few London heads- Carl Barat, Seb Rochford etc.

You came together for charity; do you feel more bands and musicians should do this?

Well I honestly believe more bands and musicians would given the chance, its often management and labels who slam the breaks on when they hear the words "no fee".

Aside from great music, what else are you hoping fans get out of Dream Service?

Well most obviously an insight into what Bottletop as a charity are doing, and most importantly why they're doing it. Also in a wider artistic sense that its ok to mix things up culturally a bit more than we have been these last ten years. There was a flurry of it in the 90's but everyone seems to be wandering back to their paddocks out of inertia or habit.

How much fun was the recording of Dream Service?

Very fun. There was no sense of what we were doing really save the skeleton "crossover" brief and that made for loads of experimenting. This meant lot of laughs when it sounded bad but loads of excitement and enthusiasm when an idea took form and came to life.

The sound of the band is a combo between the Britpop you are known for mixed with Brazilian and African sounds. Was it difficult making music out of your norm? Did you enjoy the challenge?

It was a joy to step outside the box a little. Fortunately everyone managed to use their own strength in a way that added to the songs.

You were born in Ireland, grew up in Spain and then went back to the UK and have traveled around the world playing music. Has traveling around and your upbringing made you more conscious of issues in the world?

Undeniably. When you see first hand the wildly different levels of poverty/affluence you can't help but become more aware of it. Mind you, you can travel from Hampstead to Kentish Town in 5 minutes and see pretty severe changes in wealth.

You worked with Matt Helders when you recorded with Mongrel, is working together again sparking interest in doing another Mongrel record?

The making of the Mongrel record was one of those happy times when everyone happened to be free and we made an awesome G-Funk, Hip Hop record. If everyone was free at the same time again I'd jump at the chance.

Find out more about the band & the charity at