Interview: COOKIN’ ON 3 BURNERS

It’s rare that, as a writer, you are afforded the opportunity to have a chat with a member of a band that you have cherished musically for some time. Cooking on 3 Burners gave me that chance recently and I was not disappointed.

As far as an album review goes, there is not much more I can say, other than it is “all that, and then some!” from start to finish. It’s one of those rare albums that you can replay over and over, and never tire of; a definite must have for all fans of funk, soul, jazz, blues, or Cookin’ on 3 Burners in general. I mean come on, a grooved-out Hammond Trio cover of Enter Sandman by Metallica? Worth the price of the album right there!

Humble to the nth degree, Jake Mason opened up about his thoughts on the “Hammond scene” in Melbourne, his influences, the progression of the band, and a defining musical moment in his life.

Thanks for joining us at the Australian Music Scene, Jake. As a fan, I first came across your music online with your cover of Feel Good Inc, an incredible cover. From your point of view, you will have an interesting idea of the music scene within the digital age; do you find it to be a good thing to be able to send your music everywhere at the click of a button vs having no real control over where it goes?

In one sense, we have no power or control over it so it’s best to embrace it. Just like how everything changed when cassettes came out and suddenly you could record everything, which sent everyone up in arms, or CDs came out and it was even easier and better quality again. I think it’s all relative, as at each stage, it freaks people out.

It does open it up to everyone though, which is great. It may bring back the regionalisation of music as well. Prior to it being everywhere, each area had its own sound. With the ability for everyone to be able to record and release their own music, that may in a way bring back a regional based sound and niche genres.

It’s definitely a good thing.

In regards to regional musical sounds, the Hammond scene in Australian and Melbourne music seems to be having a resurgence with the likes of yourselves, Lachey Doley, and specific Hammond nights being played around Melbourne (Bar 303 in Northcote as an example).

I think there is a bunch of factors that have led to the concentration of the Hammond sound, in Melbourne at least. The fact that Melbourne is such a musically enriched town, and feels like it’s got ‘that vibe’, with a big concentration of musicians, and little gigs and venues, which is a great starting point. When I was at uni and checking out other players, there was a bunch of genre specific bands revolving around jazz and soul, which influenced a lot of players growing up. It really showed that the Hammond organ was a thing to do. I think there was a breed of players that came out, me being one of them, that really grasped the sound and mould.

From there, the musical generations seem to have just enriched the Hammond sound in Melbourne. It’s just kind of caught on. It’s such a cool thing, and exciting, to have regular Hammond nights now as it doesn’t really happen in many places, which is great from a “community spirit” standpoint within the Hammond players community.

The Cooking on 3 Burners sound, whilst not genre hopping as such, is definitely drawing from a vast array of influences. For you personally, who and what are your influences that have dictated your sound and you musically?

Cooking on 3 burners where really focussing on that Hammond Trio vibe initially. Jimmy Smith, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, and that kind of stuff was really our focus. Then, as you evolve, you look to see what else can inspire you. We were really, as a band, into the Meters and that funk style, so we started following that style. After 10 years of playing together and having those influences, you start to go “ok, how can we make this relevant to today”.

We found that having different sorts of guests in would really give us that inspiration for when we write a new tune or working with someone. So when we were working with Tex (Perkins), that puts us in a more New Orleans rock swampy area, which is awesome . Then we’ll move across to Kylie Auldist, who is an amazing soul vocalist, so that leads us to somewhere else. We’ve been working a lot with a different crew, Mantra, who is an MC which puts us into a whole new area. We find our inspiration and freshness now from putting our Hammond Trio sound into as many different areas as we can.

So, you make a conscious decision to put yourselves into situations that you otherwise would not have found yourselves in prior.

Well, yeah. Obviously, we aren’t just doing it for no reason. It’s definitely to put us into a different headspace and use it for inspiration. Otherwise, we tend to write a lot of songs that sound like they are directly from that 1960s era.

Listening to the new album, it seems to me that the newest album is a more refined and ‘pop’ album, especially when compared to Blind Bet, your last release;was that a definitive choice or is it just something that has occurred?

It wasn’t so much a conscious decision, however, this new record sound could potentially be put down to something as simple as a new guitarist. It’s a big change to a Trio when 1 new member does come on board (Lance Ferguson of the Bamboos out, Dan West in). Dan has been playing with us for 3 or 4 years now, so the song writing process and recording process can take a while however, then you find a new way of thinking.

Sharon Jones?

That was in 2005/2006 that we opened for Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings in Sydney. Just watching that show and hanging out with them back stage, they were so full of this energy and vibe for playing that style of music, that just rubbed off on us. The show was so tight that we were absolutely blown away by that. It was a very defining moment in us playing together. To see a band of that calibre, first hand, that was on fire, doing their thing; we were just like “man, we love that”.

Such a shame to hear that she has passed. She just had the spirit of funk, or something.

Each time I am lucky enough to interview a genuine great of the music scene, I ask a bunch of questions about their ‘firsts’ so here are yours:

First musical memory? Learning the Recorder.

First instrument? That same Recorder!

First album bought? Summer Hits 85; I wanted the most value for money. Kind of Blue;  first jazz album.

First concert? Split Enz.

First piece of advice given? It’s all about the music and the song… “It’s about the steak, and not just about the sizzle.”

First piece of advice received? “You’ll never make it in the music industry.”… CHALLENGES!

Cookin’ on 3 Burners – a must experience band, if you have not already.

 

Written by: Micky D

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