Image by Dan Graham
Smoove & Turrell are more than a band; they are a way of life, an attitude and a driving force behind the North East’s funk and soul scene.
With a new album named after Newcastle’s smallest pub, Crown Posada, I asked the band’s powerhouse, producer Smoove, about the importance of the North East in their work. “We are immensely proud of our roots and it’s very important to us that we reflect the North East in our music and lyrics.” It’s more than just the place though, it’s about the heart of the region. “We try to keep things abstract in way that you can make your own mind up about what is being said. Life is what we make it and how we feel it, if it’s a song about depression, like 50 Days, or drifting away to sea in Crown Posada or even finding your fight after the steel works closed down in Redcar, this is an everyman/woman’s album. The one thing that holds it all together in a way is love.”
John’s lyrics ask questions, he tells the tale of a man who’s lived a life. It’s only after a few listens that people generally get this
Crown Posada is Smoove & Turrell’s fourth release, and while they haven’t strayed too far from their usual funk and soul sound, with John Turrell’s astonishing bluesy voice remaining a real highlight, Smoove feels the album is a progression for them. “Crown Posada definitely has a more mature sound and feel, it is another exciting chapter in the story of S&T.” Crown Posada’s funky hooks, uplifting, harmonic melodies and John’s soaring vocals heralds a maturity which could be the difference between cult success and full-blown mainstream chart-topping fame. Smoove’s varnish of production gives the whole album a feel of quality that sets it apart from almost anything else out there.
Their development from a duo to a full live band has been an increasingly important part of their genetic make-up, and has come to inform the band’s sound. “The band members Andy Champion, Lloyd Croft, Lloyd Wright and Mike Porter are an integral part of what we do now so it’s important to let people see us perform live. We take huge inspiration from watching our audience’s reactions to certain songs in the live set, which often reflects our studio recordings.”
When it comes to their songs’ subject matter, it’s John Turrell’s lyrical prowess that steers the band. “Beggarman’s Disco was conceived in a taxi ride when the driver proclaimed he was going to a credit crunch disco, where people took their own cheap booze to a spot for dancing and catching up. We both instantly loved that idea and turned it into a song! Working with John you get to see a lot more than the man on the stage, yes he can bang out a tune but if that’s all Smoove & Turrell had I really don’t think we would have the longevity that we have had. John’s lyrics ask questions, he tells the tale of a man who’s lived a life. It’s only after a few listens that people generally get this.”
Smoove & Turrell play Wylam Brewery, Newcastle on Friday 7th October. Crown Posada is released via Jalapeno Records on 14th October.