Smitty: It certainly is my pleasure to welcome to Jazz Monthly.com for the very first time a super group that has a very nice CD, it’s called Supercharged, and let me tell ya, it’s got the thump, it’s got the bump, it’s got the hip and the hop. You’ve got to check out this new record. Representing this fantastic group Down to the Bone is the incredible, Mr. Stuart Wade. Stuart, how are you, my friend? Welcome to Jazz Monthly!
Stuart Wade (SW): I’m doing fine, thanks, Smitty.
Smitty: Very cool. You cats really pumped it up with this record, man. I love the groove from start to finish.
SW: Oh, cool, yeah. I wanted to go all out on this one and just make it as raw and as funky as possible ‘cause it sort of represents the music that I love, and it’s sort of no holds barred on this one.
Smitty: Yeah, man. Well, talk to me a little bit about the history of Down to the Bone just for the fans, I know you’ve had a couple of bands before Down to the Bone, but talk about how Down to the Bone really got started.
SW: Well, basically I was in a soul band called Think Twice and there were four of us, two producers and then two musicians. It was getting a little bit poppy, so what I wanted to do is I wanted to take one of the tracks and do a funked up version, so I took it upon myself to go into a studio away from the others and I took this one track and I was basically stripping it down to the raw essentials of just bass, drums, guitar and the vocals, and then I put some extra grooves on top of it, and I had to come up with this name for this remix, so I said “so what am I doing here?” I’m basically stripping it down to the bone, so I basically called it the “Down to the Bone Remix.”
SW: And the remix, the actual version I did, took off really well. There’s a dance radio station here called KISS FM and it was in their Top 10 play list on KISS FM for weeks on end and DJ’s across the country were playing it, so then I sort of thought, well, it would be silly not to take it on as a full-on project and the Think Twice thing was sort of coming to an end, so I and the keyboardist from Think Twice, Simon Greenaway, went into the studio and between the two of us, we came up with “Staten Island Groove” and from the remix I had this whole concept of this Down to the Bone project, and also there was a club I was going to in London at the time called ‘To The Bone’, and they were playing a mixture of all the stuff I love, which is basically jazz, funk, soul, a little bit of Brazilian, so the title also came from that club as well.
Smitty: So that name was just destined to be, you know?
SW: Yeah, I was saying “to the bone” or “down to the bone.” Everything I was doing was just leading to that one name.
Smitty: Yeah, well, it’s a great name, man, and I think people totally identify with it, but now they’re gonna really identify with this great horn section on this latest record because it just adds a great new dimension to what you cats normally do. It’s got a funky groove.
SW: Well, I’m really glad you said that because that is the whole intention. In the past it was just basically two saxes with the flutes on top, but now because I meet new people, I’m learning all the time, I’ve now got a big group of musicians to call upon. I thought, well, I really wanna take it to where I wanted to go at the beginning, before I knew all these musicians, so I now want to incorporate a full horn section. It just gives it this whole more powerful edge.
Smitty: Yes it does. The title track “Supercharged,” man, what a song!
SW: (Laughs.) Yeah, I mean, that sort of sums up the whole concept of the whole album and I think this entire album and the title track “Supercharged,” I think it really shows what Down to the Bone is and it’s taking me to the place that I wanted to get to when I first started all this, but as you do with any business, you always learn as you’re going along, so you’re going on this journey, and I’ve always been, I feel, aiming to get to this funk groove place, and I think with this album I’m the closest, I think.
Smitty: Yeah, man, ‘cause it’s got the funk and it’s got the groove. Now, talk to me about the band, introduce the band.
SW: Well, to be quite honest, and this will probably get confusing, there’s been essentially two bands. There’s the live side of the band that goes out on tour and Shilts, the saxophonist who’s also on the album, is the band leader, and the live side is made up from guys who are based in L.A. because, to be quite honest, there’s not enough money to fly a U.K. band over from the U.K. to perform in America anymore because venues aren’t paying as much so there’s not as many gigs.
So there’s a full-on L.A.-based band and other people involved are Katisse Buckingham, who’s the second saxophonist. He also is an amazing flute player and he also does a rap on stage as well. There’s a track we do called “Vinyl Junkie” and he’s written this rap that goes on top of it, so it’s got this whole urban rap vibe on it as well. And there’s Bill Steinway, who’s on keyboards, in the live band as well. But then there’s also the guys that I usually call on in the U.K. because obviously living in the U.K. I know the studios here. There are whole sets of guys here. The new addition would be the D.C. Horns, which is Jon Radford on trumpet and flugelhorn; Bob Dowell, who plays trombone; and Pete Grogan, who plays alto sax; and then there’s bass player Julian Crampton, who I always use—he was with Incognito—and Tony Remy on guitar, the most amazing guitarist I’ve ever worked with. So there’s a whole host of different musicians who basically make up the concept of Down to the Bone based around myself writing and producing all the tracks. Musician-wise there isn’t really a full-time Down to the Bone act. It’s myself calling on all the guys who I basically trust to do the best job.