Preview: Rudimental in Wellington

TOM CARDY
Last updated 10:20 04/03/2014

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Right now Piers Aggett is one happy chappy. The Englishman is co-founder of Rudimental - one of the most successful new British bands of the past year.

The band's amalgam of dance, soul and drum and bass on their debut album Home took them to No 1 in Britain and No 2 in New Zealand and Australia.

It was the 17th biggest selling album in Britain last year and second biggest selling debut album.

Rudimental has also helped launch the successful solo career of singer John Newman, who sang on their No 1 single Feel the Love, while Emeli Sande, who sings on Free, continues to dominate British music. Her debut was the biggest selling album in Britain in 2012 and the second biggest selling last year.

Aggett says Newman and Sande's involvement with Rudimental comes down to the links he and co-founders Kesi Dryden, Amir Amor and DJ Locksmith have forged in Britain's music scene. "It's just a great scene that's grown from four guys really.

"I met John Newman in a pub about three years ago and many people on the album were friends of friends.

"When looking to play live we'd go and ask people. Normally a record label would go do that for you but our connections meant we did it. It's definitely a big family."

Spoons, the first single from Home, was released in February 2012. That single failed to chart, but the success of Feel the Love, released in May that year, catapulted the band to national and international recognition.

Aggett was able to quit his day jobs - teaching in a school and working in a studio - to fully concentrate on Rudimental. His colleagues, who worked as producers and DJs, did the same.

"We didn't realise how big we'd get - that we'd be a large, touring band going around the whole world. We kind of had that in the back of our heads as a dream. But none of us really planned that.

"We just got together with a group of people that we really enjoyed working with."

Aggett says one reason for the mix of guest singers on the album and live is practical - "we can't sing ourselves".

"It was something we naturally had a good ear for because we had worked with vocalists for years in studios. We could go to one [singer] and know what to do with them."

Rudimental also have a fresh sound for a London band. Aggett says the mix of music is due to growing up hearing the many kinds of music in the London borough of Hackney.

This included jungle, garage, reggae, funk, blues and jazz. "You have this mass mix of cultures all around you and you kind of lap that up and when you make music it all comes out."

Aggett can even cite a family influence - and one that will make some readers suddenly feel they're getting old - his father got him into drum and bass.

One of the first drum and bass and jungle radio stations was near where Aggett grew up and, being too young to go the clubs, he relied on his dad to introduce him to the music.

But Rudimental's mix of influences would be familiar to Kiwis because several of our own bands, especially Shapeshifter, have been doing the same for years.

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Aggett does have some knowledge of Kiwi music. One of his favourites is Wellington's Fat Freddy's Drop.

"I'd love to work with those guys. It would be good if we could collaborate. They are a great live act, especially that brass section."

Rudimental play TSB Bank Arena, Wellington, tomorrow.

- The Dominion Post

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