Wednesday, 18 July 2007

INTERVIEW: Cornerstone Roots

Revolutionary Reggae Roots.

Recognized in Australia, Japan, USA and Brazil, Cornerstone Roots are taking their original reggae roots global. The new album “Free Yourself” stays faithful to New Zealand with a nationwide tour towards the end of July. It surely is forward march for these pioneering roots masters.

Lucy Wyatt: Four years on from “Soul Revolution” we are now graced with your second album “Free Yourself”. Do you think your sound has changed?

Cornerstone Roots: It’s been a natural progression from Soul Revolution, but in saying that we definitely tightened things up. We recorded it with all of us in the one room – so it was done live. We did have a crack doing it the old school way – one instrument at a time and it didn’t quite work – we weren’t really getting the bite, so we decided to go back to how we recorded our first album. Also, we wanted to get it as close to our live sets as possible – and admittedly there was some pressure to keep up with Soul Revolution.

Lucy: You are known to project both political and spiritual messages within your music, does writing about global issues come easily for you?

Cornerstone Roots: Always. It’s part of my personality. I’ve tried to be quite platonic when writing, but I just can’t do it. A lot of people ask me what does it mean, what’s Cornerstone about? I say, what does it mean to you? I don’t want to ram stuff down people’s throats. I put the lyrics out there on the album so people can work out the political and environmental issues for themselves. One guy in the States emailed me and said for him it’s like a soundtrack for life.

Lucy: Your band has certainly grown from your original 3-piece set. How has the input of Jonathan Crawford shaped the band?

Cornerstone Roots: He’s a very perceptive person, quite eccentric at times, but we kinda like that. He brings a lot of experience to the band. He’s like ‘“it’s ok man, you just do what you feel like doing, don’t worry about the crowd, just play for yourself.”’ He gets us to think outside the square. He’s taught us how to explore our different influences and not to worry about being labeled.

Lucy: Also Lucino the “king of dancehall” contributes to the new album with his exceptional voice on the track, Jah, what was it like working with him?

Cornerstone Roots: Again – inspirational. He’s a legend. We were meant to record with him the night he played at the Galatos, but he decided not to record with Fat Freddy’s Drop or us. The next day I got talking to him and he was like, “yeah - I’ve decided to do the track.” We found the last studio in town. It took him 2 hrs to get the track down. He wrote it, did the backing vocals, the ad-lib and “Jah” was the result. Then I drove him straight to the Big Day Out where he was due on stage. It was tight.

Your roots are obviously of great importance to you, always staying loyal to Raglan, what with organising the Soundsplash festival, but now you are taking Cornerstone Roots global. Why have you chosen to head to Brazil this year?

Cornerstone Roots: We’ve been distributing to Brazil over the past 2 years. What happened was people were coming over here from Brazil, Japan, America and Europe and about that time we happened to be playing a lot in Raglan. The tourists who were at the gigs just flipped their lids. Since then our music has started to spread quite quickly back in those countries. So that’s how Brazil came about. They sort of approached us and we did some deals. We have a 20-day tour planned from San Paolo to El Salvador, all we need now is the funding.

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