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The Black Seeds Interview by Michael Cotton

Whenever I sit down to write up an interview I’m always wrestling with the decision whether to listen to the band while I’m writing. It reminds me of the scene in Almost Famous when the young writer, William, calls up Lester Bangs (superbly played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and is asked by legendary Creem and Rolling Stone writer, “What are you listening to?” When the reply is Stillwater (the band William is writing about), he simply hangs up muttering to himself that the “kid must be on drugs.”

Well screw it, I admit it, I am listening to the Black Seeds and enjoying every minute of it.  As my turntable spins into life and the sweet sounds of New Zealand crackle from my speaker, it’s hard not let your mind drift away to the Islands of Aotearoa.

For the Black Seeds make such ‘sweet as’ music it’s hard not to be seduced by the chilled out life you imagine they enjoy.

New Zealand may be better known for Lord of the Rings and extreme sports but it’s quickly becoming known for the music it produces. Punching above its weight in the music world, bands such as Fat Freddy’s Drop, Katchafire and the Black Seeds are bringing sweet Kiwi reggae-dub to the fore.

While they have been thrilling Kiwi and UK audiences for years, (thanks to the vast number of gap-year kids who invade NZ each year), it has taken our American cousins a lil while longer to catch on. Thankfully they are now, something the band attributes to years of hard work but also their management.


“Matt McLeod, Craig Pearce and our American manager Seth Herman work really hard for us...often for no money,” said Barnaby Weir.

Black Seeds’ vocalist/guitarist Weir said: “Without them we’d have never released Solid Ground (released last year) in America.”

The eight-piece, formed by Weir in NZ’s capital Wellington released their debut album Keep On Pushing in 2001 and have since recorded four more studio albums and a live album- The Black Seeds Live: Vol 1.

The Black Seeds are signed, in the US, to Easy Star Records, home of the legendary Easy Star All-Stars and John Brown’s Body.

“Elliot Martin, lead singer of JBB, recommended us to the label,” says Weir.

“Before long we were touring with them across America, thanks Elliot!”

This is a relationship which saw the Black Seeds return the compliment and invite JBB to tour NZ with them to great success.

On the subject of touring, Weir took the opportunity to speak about the Black Seeds live show. It is clear from their live album playing for an audience is a priority for the band.

“We’ve worked hard over the years on our shows, we don’t alienate audiences, we invite them into our world instead.”

Musically the Black Seeds are influenced by a who’s who of rock, hip-hop and roots-reggae greats.

“I gotta say I was 10-11-years-old when I discovered Jimi Hendrix doing a cover of ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Johnny B Good’. Public Enemy’s ‘Fear of a Black World’ blew my wig too.” says Weir.

“Dub masters King Tubby, Lee Perry and Prince Jammy got me very excited about making music.”

When pushed to pick between the King and Perry, it appeared I had him stumped.

“Hmmm, I think Lee Perry is probably more influential but I do love the King!”

While the Black Seeds are busy cracking the US market it would be easy to think they might neglect the rest of the world, but fear not, they fully intend to carry on playing Europe and beyond.

“We are going to Portugal on our current tour, which will be cool. We also hope to play Poland as we have been invited a few times but never managed it.

“We haven’t played with Easy Star All-Stars yet but will in London at the end of our tour. I’m really looking forward to that.” he said.

A new album is high on the list of things to do for the Black Seeds work has already begun on the record which is due to be released next year. They will continue to tour the US in the meantime because “it has got a good vibe there for us,” says Weir.

Weir says drawing inspiration from their family and friends back home in NZ pushes the Black Seeds in a new direction.

“Musically we are a bit more pro and mature these days. Our friends in NZ inspire us too, like Fat Freddy’s Drop and the Flight of the Conchords.

“It’s not competitive in a bad way; each band pushes the envelope and gets better each year. That makes us want to always do better than last time, whether it’s a show or album.”

The Black Seeds, a band very much on the rise, content with where they are and where they came from, very much together. As Weir says: “A Kiwi Band of Bro’s.”

by Michael Cotton

Official Website

Tour Dates

DateLocationVenueTicketsFacebook Event
JUL. 3
Quincy, CA
High Sierra Music Festival
JUL. 4
Quincy, CA
High Sierra Music Festival
JUL. 7
Vancouver, BC
The Venue
JUL. 8
Whistler, BC
Garibaldi Lift Co.
JUL. 9
Tofino, BC
Victoria Ska Fest
JUL. 10
Victoria, BC
Victoria Ska Fest
JUL. 11
Seattle, WA
Nectar Lounge
JUL. 14
Denver, CO
Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
JUL. 15
Boulder, CO
Fox Theatre
JUL. 16
Brooklyn, NY
Music Hall of Williamsburg
JUL. 17
Mariaville, NY
Camp Bisco 9
JUL. 18
Burlington, VT
Higher Ground Showcase Rooms
JUL. 20
Baltimore, MD
JUL. 21
Philadelphia, PA
Electric Factory
JUL. 23
Trumansburg, NY
GrassRoots Festival
JUL. 25
Solana Beach, CA
Belly Up Tavern
JUL. 26
Santa Barbara, CA
Velvet Jones
JUL. 27
Santa Cruz, CA
Catalyst Club
JUL. 28
San Francisco, CA
JUL. 30
Karlsruhe, Germany
JUL. 31
Dortmund, Germany
Juicy Beats Festival
AUG. 1
Berlin, Germany
Arena Glashaus
AUG. 4
Amsterdam, Netherlands
AUG. 5
Paris, France
Nouveau Casino
AUG. 6
Herefordshire, United Kingdom
Big Chill Festival
AUG. 7
Zambujeira Do Mar, Portugal
Festival Sudoeste
AUG. 8
London, United Kingdom
HMV Forum
OCT 23
Hamilton, NZ
Shiverdown Festival
OCT 24
Gisborne, NZ
Gisborne Wine & Food Festival

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