DRIZABONE, DRIZA, DRIZABONE SOUL FAMILY – no matter what moniker the Northampton-based outfit use, proper soul fans know that they always deliver quality soul music. The band began in the early 90s when BILLY FREEMAN (then using the surname APRIL) got together with VINCENT GARCIA to explore their mutual love of all things soulful. Fast forward to 1994 when DRIZABONE released the seminal ‘Conspiracy’ LP, generally acclaimed as the best example of Brit soul yet conceived, boasting the ever-wonderful ‘Pressure’, Brightest Star’ and, of course, the iconic ‘Real Love’. Things then slowed down. GARCIA worked under the DRIZA banner and then two years ago BILLY FREEMAN convened the DRIZABONE SOUL FAMILY – releasing the acclaimed ‘All The Way’ album on Dome Records. Now on their own Soul Family label, DRIZABONE SOUL FAMILY have just issued their second long player – ‘The Recipe Of Life’. So, what better time to catch up with main man BILLY FREEMAN to find out all about the new album….
Our last album “All the Way” took a few years to develop on and off… . and by the time we had promoted and gigged that album we suddenly realised a new album was needed fast. Fortunately there were some great unfinished songs sitting around and a couple of oldies which were overlooked .. add to that some new songs and the “Recipe of Life” was born in record quick time. Actually completed in less than a year
You’ve used most of the core musicians and singers from the last LP … you’re clearly happy with them?
DRIZABONE SOUL FAMILY is a permanent line-up now .. Me, the vocalists and the band all live in the same town (Northampton) and have known each other most of our lives which is where the “Soul Family” part of the name comes from. It is a relief to not have to change musicians and vocalists all the time like maybe INCOGNITO and other soul acts have to do. We are all about love for each other just like a family.
Lots of people who’ve already listened to the album say it has a definite old school Motown vibe –was this intentional?
I think you just write songs that come up in your mind and of late we have gravitated towards Motown-esque songs. They are fun to write and perform but on reflection I regret steering so far away from the “Real Love” type of soul tracks that our fans are used to. We will be rectifying that on the next album though.
Keeping with the Motown thing, the track ‘Too Young’ in particular uses the drum patterns of ‘Going To A Go-Go’… why?
That drum beat is just one STUART our drummer kept playing on the drums and I was determined to write a song over as it was so funky.
Then there’s ‘Sell My Soul’…. very AMY WINEHOUSE… again was that a deliberate thing?
Honestly, I have never listened to “Back to Black” for fear of plagiarising it .. Intentional? No .. similar direction to where AMY went? … maybe. A few people have commented on it. My drummer STUART actually wrote most of that song and he has never listened to “Back to Black” either.
Why did you choose to re-record ‘Brightest Star’?
Some of the old DRIZABONE songs are worth revisiting anyway – not with the intention of bettering the old versions .. just to give new fans a chance to hear some of the old greats.
Why did you switch labels for this album ….. what happened to the deal with Dome?
Soul Family records is our own label .. Dome and DRIZABONE decided amicably to go separate ways. We are ever indebted to PETE at Dome for helping re-establish DRIZABONE on the scene though.
What about future releases then… will they be on Soul Family? (I’m presuming, of course, there will be a future?)
There is a future .. we have so much to say yet in soul music .. I feel like we haven’t even started to give all we have to give. More than likely on our own label yes.
Can we go back now and clear up a few things… first (you’ve probably been asked this hundreds of times)…why the name DRIZABONE – what’s an Aussie branded raincoat got to do with soul?
VINCE my partner in DRIZABONE saw that name on a trip to Australia in 1990 and liked it .. when we couldn’t come up with anything better we used it. It is a strange one isn’t it?
… why then did you change it to DRIZA?
DRIZA was VINCE’S reincarnation of DRIZABONE. I had nothing to do with that.
What happened between you and VINCENT?
We split due to personal differences
Why did it take you so long to make a comeback with ‘All The Way’… and again why a name change… albeit a subtle one?… and why have you reverted to using your real name and not BILLY APRIL?
For many years I followed a different path but everybody kept encouraging me to do DRIZABONE all over again. Eventually I relented and am glad I did. BILLY APRIL is a stupid stage name I had from my first major record deal in the mid eighties .. .What was I thinking???!!
With two albums as the DRIZABONE SOUL FAMILY under your belt what can we expect from the future and will we ever see a (second) re-recording of ‘Real Love‘?
Twice is enough on any song .. as I said earlier I hope to come with more “Real Love’s” on the next album
What do you honestly think of ‘Real Love’ … it’s a genuine modern soul classic still played in every decent club… do you look on it as a blessing or a curse?
A total blessing .. .that record was a complete accident and just goes to prove the best records are made when you are not trying to make a hit record.