5 Minutes With POW Negro (Big Splash Heat #6 Winners)
Following their heat-winning performance, Bob Gordon checks in for a POW-wow.
Words by Bob Gordon. Header photo by Rachel Barrett.
POW Negro on winning Heat #6 of The Big Splash: “I think we were all feeling pretty nervous for the Big Splash gig; we just had no idea what to expect. We knew the competition would be pretty fierce and they all rocked their shows. I was mostly worrying that something would fuck up, an amp or someone’s pedals and ruin the show, because it's happened before and none of us have the greatest equipment. Winning our heat was a pretty crazy feeling. I think we're all realising that we've actually got something kind of unique that people really like and can get down too.”
It’s all for the love of hip hop in this camp.
Semi-Final #1 of The Big Splash happens at Badlands this Friday, August 19, with Moistoyster, Moon Puppy Blues Band, Mung Dahl, Hip Priest and Kallan Phillips (event HERE).
An out-of-the-blue opportunity for Nelson Mondlane (MC/Bomb-dropper) in October last year proved a quick catalyst for the formation of what was about to become POW Negro.
“Nelson was offered a solo show down at Mojos and Rhys (Hussey - Drummer/ Radioactive Energy-Man) thought to himself 'Why roll with a DJ when you can rock with ya buds by your side?', bass player, Toby Batchelor, explains in a flourish.
“In about a week-and-a-half we got a band together, wrote/learnt songs and smashed the gig out. Most of us were all friends before POW, so gel was already applied fairly liberally.”
With no shortage of momentum, POW Negro seemed a done deal from the get-go. What made it easier is that they immediately bonded over simple, shared joys.
“At the start we just wanted to be a band that could actually play a gig,” Batchelor recalls. “We all love a bunch of different music but are all strung together by a love of hip-hop. It was always going to be hip-hop. We just wanted to be fun and energetic and musically interesting.”
As a live entity, POW Negro are, “energetic, hopefully,” Batchelor says. “We've all got our own thing going on onstage and I think that variety makes POW what it is.
“We were all pretty frightened of performing at the beginning, but as we've played more and more we've grown more and more comfortable. It's weird for us to look back at the people we were nine months ago and see how much we've grown.”
Given they wrote their first songs in the week leading up to a debut performance, POW Negro’s songwriting process is perhaps still finding its way. Whatever it is they’re doing, however, seems to be working just fine.
“We're lucky enough that we are all fairly literate with our respective DAWs, so we tend to bring whatever we think would work to the band and go from there,” Batchelor explains. “Sometimes they're full songs and sometimes just ideas for a part, and from there we all have our say and POW-ify it.
“Songs can be done in one session or they can take months, depending on what the track needs and how busy we are. The past few months have been pretty crazy so it's been a little difficult to get tracks up to scratch.”
An EP of tracks is up to scratch, however, and is readying itself for release in the near future.
“The EP is exciting,” Batchelor enthuses. “We recorded it live in a studio in this dude’s backyard through all this old analogue gear, so it's got this really cool, unique feel to it. We're overdubbing a bunch at the moment and throwing FX all over it. The whole process is the complete opposite to how we've made our individual music over the past few years so it's all really new to us.
“The guy who's helping us with it, Sam Cutri, just thinks we're the bee's knees live and really wanted to capture that on the EP, which we're super keen about. At the same time, he wants to do the right thing by us, and we're creative people who want to make this thing as sonically bangin' as possible.”
The release of the EP remains POW Negro’s golden goal for now, but that’s not to say there hasn’t been an abundance of highlights for the band thus far.
“Playing with REMI, Sampa The Great and our brothers Koi Child all within a few months was pretty crazy,” Batchelor says. “We played Fairbridge Festival somewhere in-between those gigs and that was insane because we had pretty much all gone to that as kids and always dreamt about playing it. So to actually do it was incredible.”
POW Negro is:
Nelson Mondlane - MC/ Bomb-dropper
Lachlan Dymond - Lead Guitar/ Psychedelic adventurer
Rhys Hussey - Drummer/ Radioactive Energy-Man
Kaprou Lea - Saxophonist/ Sex appeal of the band
Toby Batchelor - Bass
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