Thanks to Good Vibrations magazine and Camille Lawson for interviewing us!
Read the full article at: http://www.gvmag.co.uk/int-2013/
We, the Undersigned (WtU) are a Liverpool-based band on a mission to liberate people with their special blend of reggae, rock, funk, afrobeat, rap and jazz. Their eponymous debut EP was released in 2010 on Stankh records, and their latest 7-track EP has been available since January 2013.
Interview with Collen Chandler, ‘Snapstring ‘ ( Lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Matt Mak, ‘The Mook’ (Bass and minister of Propaganda), Marie-Lou ‘Rainchild ‘( Baritone and alto sax)
1) How many band members does the band consist of?
Between 10 and 13 members. We have some extra plug-in members depending on the gig, the stage size, who’s available…
2) How did you come up with the name We, the Undersigned?
Collen – I came up with the name before anyone of us was in the band. I was writing a lot of politically motivated songs and I thought that “We, the Undersigned” would be a really good name for a band with a political dimension. “We, the Undersigned” is like the beginning of a petition. And as the band has evolved, and now has many members, the name has found another meaning – it’s like a way of saying “all these people”.
3) What’s the best gig you ever played?
Matt – There’s been a couple of really good ones actually. The two times we supported Toots & the Maytals were really good.
Collen – I don’t think I can choose between the two of them really
Matt – We did play with Dawn Penn (29th May 2011, at Mojo, Liverpool) as her backing band and that was pretty good too.
Collen – My best gig would probably be the one on 6th December 2012, when we headlined at the 02 Academy. It was the first time we could play a really long set, we stayed on stage for about an hour and a half. We had already performed there several times, supporting Toots & the Maytals and The Skatalites. We were pulling big crowds when we were supporting at the 02, so after that they wanted to give us our own show. It was a great night.
4) How was supporting Toots & the Maytals like?
Collen – It was brilliant. A real honour. We played to our biggest crowd (about 1000 people), sold a lot of tickets and had a really good reception from people. It was the first time we’d experienced something the size of that. And of course we got to watch Toots & the Maytals from the side of the stage and got to see how he works the crowd and that kind of stuff. He has the most amazing energy.
Matt – He’s the most legendary performer we’ve had the privilege to work with. So far!
5) I heard on the grapevine that you are touring Luxembourg this year. How do you go about and get a tour sorted in different countries? What kind of impression do you want to leave in people’s minds?
Collen – Marie-Lou is from Luxembourg, so that helps. We’re finalizing this at the moment and hopefully we should be able to play there. It will be our first time playing in a different country.
Marie-Lou: There’s a festival that takes place there called the “European Peoples’ Festival”, it’s a big get-together of little communities from different countries who are there to share stuff about their culture and to get involved in sport competition and parties.
Matt: It will be interesting to share what we are doing with other people, from other places, to share our vision: “more harmony, the sense of a true, global community, people living together constructively, respectfully and building a world that is free from corruption, greed and hate.”
It’s great we’re going to be able to play in a different country, but we’re also going to be able to share our vision with loads of people from different places.
It fits with the vision we want to spread: it’s all about sharing and being happy!
6) What are your plans in the near future?
Collen – Well we’ve just released an EP and we’re already thinking about the next one. We self-released our EP under Stankh records. We’re trying to get our brass section to have a couple of songs they can release, we’re trying to get our backing singers to do some lead vocals on some songs.
Matt – We have new songs to record, new good gigs to play- which we need to get prepared for and our first time playing overseas hopefully. This should be an exciting year! We just want to get out there and spread the message and to continue doing our own thing really. We enjoy what we do, so the more we get to do it the better!
Collen – The 15th June 2013, will be our next big gig in Liverpool. We can’t say much about it. We’ll be playing at the Kazimier for a reggae themed day. We’re doing it with a really good promoter from Liverpool under the name ‘Rebel Soul.’
7) If you could have an infinite supply of something for the rest of your life – what would you choose?
Collen “Snapstring” – I think I’d have an infinite supply of guitar strings. I have to change my strings before pretty much every gig, so that I don’t snap a string, which is an expensive habit! I’m better now though!
Matt Mak –My answer is time. Having more time would be fantastic, just think of all the things you could achieve. We have so many ideas and we need time to work on our songs, practice our music- it’s a long process. If we had more time we could be releasing like 15 albums a week! An idea is something that needs time to nurture…
8 ) Who inspires you the most?
Collen – There are loads, really! But if you have to say the most, then you can’t really look past Bob Marley.
Matt – But there are loads of different aspects…
Collen – Yeah but, Bob Marley corresponds exactly with what we’re about in terms of philosophy. He single-handedly brought reggae music to the whole world. You can go anywhere in the world and people will know him. He would have been recognized as a prophet if he had lived like 2000 or 3000 years ago you know! Reggae music was evolving in that tiny place that is Jamaica, and he’s the one who gave it its international audience.
Matt- We have loads of influences: Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, James Brown, George Clinton…
Our music is influenced by everything that resonates with people like Reggae, Funk, Afrobeat, Rock, Jazz… Anything that resonates with that, that resonates with people and allows us to spread our message. That is what Stankh music is about… It’s just our little piece of infinity!
9) What’s on your playlist at the moment?
1) Collen – Soothsayers (a reggae/Afrobeat band from London)
2) Matt – United Vibrations “No Space / No time”
3) Marie-Lou – Young Blood Brass Band
4) All – Groundation
10) Is Liverpool good for reggae music? Do you plan on staying here ?
Collen – Yes we definitely plan on staying here! There’s great music here and reggae stuff going on like the band Bolshy (reggae ska punk), and Rumjig (reggae swing funk). But there’s not really a reggae scene though and it’s something we’d like to nurture. There isn’t a proper reggae band here at the moment. We can’t really call ourselves a proper reggae band either.
Mook – Each local band has its own combination of sound, a special blend of different styles. We’ve noticed there’s more appetite for bands to experiment.
Collen – People are getting tired of watching indie bands I think.
Mook – Liverpool’s music scene is at its grooviest at the moment.
11) I read on your website that “WTU had a name for themselves as harbingers of a revolutionary mindset of political, spiritual & personal liberation”. Can you expand on that?
Mook – We want to help liberate people from their own imprisonment, from their negative opinions about themselves. We want to be free from all that’s negative in this world, from the corruption… We’re on a mission to share a positive message to everyone, to allow them to be strong, capable, happy and educated people.
To conclude with…
If you were a song… Matt Mak – Parliament “Tear the Roof Off” (unanimous decision!)
If you were a sound… Marie-Lou – “Woab!” (baritone sax)
If you were a time in History… “Pleistocene” (as in a song of ours)
If you were a place… Giza Plateau in the Pleistocene
If you weren’t in a band you would be… political activists!
If you were a word… STANKH