Urban Prophecies are an old school fusion brought into today's world with hard hitting rapped vocals and harder hitting guitars. We caught up with Manuel Chowdhury from the band and discussed a whole range of things including Zane Lowe's producer, Sunday roasts and in-car record players, here's how we got on....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
Hard hitting well thought dirty pop
You’re called Urban Prophecies how did you come about choosing this name?
A friend of mine and I sat wanted something that said we were from the streets (we were young, arrogant and dumb) and something that said we were deep. Voila.
How did you all meet?
Myself and Mark went to school together and have been close friends since, everyone else through friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends.
Being an unsigned band how hard is it to get noticed and how has social media aided your music?
It’s very hard, but being signed isn’t as imperative as it once was. You can do pretty well for yourself and make some positive steps without a label. Social media is an amazing tool, to be able to send a message whether in the form of a song, video or status with one tap of a button is incredible.
Latest tune is ‘Anything else’ a very much an emotional tune, would you consider songs you write are like therapy? What is the story behind this?
It’s quite a pent up song, like enough is enough. If people use it as therapy and it helps them get through it then that’s awesome, and some songs we write are a form of therapy for ourselves. I digress. Yes.
How would you describe an urban prophecies live show?
Awful. Don’t waste your money. I joke, they’re cool, we just play for the love of playing, and enjoy what we’re doing, and that comes across on stage. I’d like to say we captivate a crowd but you would have to ask them.
‘Wanting you’ is a great song, featuring Bianca Nicholas, how did you find each other? What is the inspiration behind this song?
We met Bianca through a mutual friend, we needed a singer for a show and we were put in touch with her, have remained friends since. We came under criticism that all our songs were really depressing and sad, so “Wanting you” was our feeble attempt at a party track. A lot of fun to play live.
What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
James Bursey, Zane Lowes producer. We released a song for charity, it was done under a label, and not to the greatest of standards. Everyone loved it and helped promote it, but we didn’t like it, it wasn’t good enough, sound quality let the song down. James was the first person to not give a Scooby what it was for, he critiqued it as a song, tore it a new one, told us it was nowhere near the standard it should be, and we still keep in touch and he tells us what we are doing wrong, or in some rare cases...right.
What does music mean to you?
Cliche answer would be everything. It isn’t, my family and friends mean more to me, but without music I’d be pretty lost, it’s a really cool outlet, it’s my social life, and it’s my muse. Have a bad day, music can cheer you up, during training music keeps you going, it’s pretty darn important to me.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released?
Linkin Park Hybrid Theory. Made me want to do it, whole album from start to finish (apart from the skit) I could listen to all day.
Is there something you would like to tell each of the band members that you haven’t told them before?
Nothing that I haven’t told them before, never really had a need for secrets. For example, I tell James all the time to stop messing around with my seat and adjusting the angle when I get out the car for any reason. That would be a pretty lame secret.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
I can’t help falling in love with you, Elvis is awesome. Wish I had an eerie beautiful voice.
Greatest musician of all time, in your opinion?
I love Slash, he’s so cool, but it has to be Hendrix. Watching clips of him play, he was just so gifted.
What was Gabby Roslin like?
Really nice, and really attractive. Everyone fancied her on the Big Breakfast and not much seems to have changed.
Did Rick Edwards ever join the band?
No. I think as he got more successful he forgot about his promise. It’s a shame he would have been an incredible jug player.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as party guests?
Slash so I could wear his top hat, Ryan Reynolds because he just looks like a fun guy to hang around with, and Rick Edwards so we could sort this mess out once and for all. He bailed on us when we needed him the most. He has a lot to answer for.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
People like what they like, who am I to dictate who they listen to lol. I have played with some awesome people and it has been a privilege. Obviously Bianca is up there, London Roots is doing some cool things, just go out and find some bands!! Visit the local pubs and clubs, you get an awesome show for cheap and hear some amazing music.
Who would you like to know has your music on their iPod, MP3 or cassette walkman?
I’d like to think my mum has it, pretty embarrassing if even she won’t spend 99p on us.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Mario. Sometimes you look at Mario and think, why are you jumping around, stepping on turtles, and punching bricks? Why do you grow when you eat a mushroom? Is it an allergic reaction? In which case go to the doctors man!! But he can’t go to the doctors...he doesn’t have time. While we are booking our appointments by ringing the surgery at 8:58am...you know where Mario is? Saving a princess. That’s what we do with our music. When we play, we save princesses. If I have to explain this answer...you obviously hate kittens.
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
In the future we will be crossing the roads digitally. Won’t need to even leave our house (Cage or farm depending how said chicken is raised) The chicken can just set his profile to private and nobody will ever know what he’s doing.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2014?
Survive until 2015? We were back on the BBC with Gaby Roslin on June 15th to play 3 songs at 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm, we plan on unleashing a brand new track live on air aswell which will be pretty cool. Other than that we’re just making music for the sake of making music.
For an experiment, we made Manuel stand in a stress position and asked him a bunch of quick fire questions, he JUST about got through them prior to his legs giving way, forcing him to collapse onto the floor..... (that's just the way we roll baby)
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Drum machine or the real deal?
Real deal. Everytime
Mac or PC?
Mac for music, PC for downloading illegal movies.
Twitter or Facebook?
Fry up or Sunday roast?
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
Can’t fit a turntable in my car so CD
Car or Motorbike?
Acoustic or electric?
What a horrible question...I guess acoustic
Shower or Bath?
Shower, because urinating in the bath is disgusting!
Tattoos or Piercings?
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?
Prior to closing the interview, Manuel asked if he could sneak in a massive shout out to James (their drummer) for winning his final at twickenham a few weeks ago which is pretty awesome (we were not told what this was for....Tiddly Winks, Judo or Rugby maybe??), and Jo their singer for having a baby :-)
We were just about to sign off the feature when Manuel emailed again to let us know that Georgia Monk had taken over the bass playing duties with the band.
We left the door open for a couple of weeks just in case Manuel had any other shout outs, mentions or Sunday Love Songs that he wanted to get on the inter-web, we heard nothing so thought that this would be a great place to seal the door once and for all.
Musicmuso would like to thank Manuel for taking time out of his hectic schedule to answer our questions, the bit above about stress positions and collapsing was completely made up, what do you think we are, a bunch of twisted sickos?
Interview by Mark Wincott