BIOGRAPHYThe Sunburst Band is a collective born out of Mr Lee’s passion for boogie, funk, disco and jazz. “It’s not like I’m the guy who harps on that it was so much better back in ’78,’” says Dave with a smile, “but at the same time I’m a bit of a polar resistor who goes against the flow. When my mates were buying The Clash and Cocteau Twins, I was into D Train and Funkadelic. Similarly now as so many dance acts are making electro I’ve gone the other way with this project. I’ve missed the performance thing, the intensity of a band playing together. Rock and indie have never moved away from the guitar and drums sound, whereas dance (be it R&B or house) tends to be mainly programmed. And it’s not that I have a problem with that, I just wanted to do something that I don’t hear too often nowadays. Some people might call it retro, but I’m just a guy writing songs and performing them with his band.”
Forming in 1998, the release of debut album ‘Here Comes The Sunburst Band’ won critical acclaim with both old school heads as well as nu breed disco and house fans. Tracks like ‘Garden of Love’ and ‘Delicious’ became scene classics, championed by DJs from Pete Tong to 4 Hero to Dmitri from Paris. The follow-up ‘Until The End of Time’ featured cuts like ‘Far Beyond’ which all the top US hip hop guys still spin, and soul anthem ‘Everyday – a favourite with Annie Mac, Trevor Nelson and even Heston Blumenthal, who included it as one of his ‘Desert Island Discs’ on Radio 4.
Says Dave: “New album ‘Moving with the Shakers’ took over me for a while, and I spent 18 months working on it, going back to the songs, honing the production and lyrics, scrapping tracks and starting new ones to make sure there were no fillers. As you can imagine, it’s pretty intense making an album when you’re the main songwriter, producer, label and a&r man. On this third album, I also wanted to say something in the songs and avoid the banal lyrics that plague so much dance music.”
‘Journey Intro’ opens with live strings and luscious vocals setting the scene for the 17 track opus. ‘Our Lives Are Shaped’ is a nod towards the East London 2 step soul, sound system days: “Lyrically it’s about how our lives are steered by the people we love and how they can alter our experiences and perception of the world”. Next up is a slinky rework of David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’. “I’m a big Bowie fan,” says Dave, “and I wanted to retain the funk but replace the rockiness with a jazzy boogie vibe, then take it off into another direction instrumentally in the second half.” ‘Sitting on Top Of The World’ harks back to the uplifting disco of Earth, Wind and Fire with a message to keep your ego in check, whilst the stomping ‘Days Gone By’ remembers the innocence of youth: “It’s about days when I was on the dole, spending all the money I had on old vinyl,” laughs Dave.
Collaborators on ‘Moving With The Shakers’ include Harlem soul legend Leroy Burgess, Diane Charlemagne, who sang on Goldie’s ‘Inner City Life’, and Chaka Khan’s sister Taka Boom. Fulltime front man Pete Simpson is also known for lending his vocal talents to the Unabombers’ alias, The Elektrons.
So what else does 2008 hold for The Sunburst Band? “We’re playing at the Southport Weekender,” says Dave, “plus there is a mini tour and some festivals in the pipeline, but it’s all pretty top secret at the moment.”
Joey Negro and the Sunburst Band release ‘Moving With The Shakers’ on Z Records May 12th. Keep your eyes peeled for the rest.