Wellington based reggae band BrownHill have just released their debut album 'First Love'.
The nine-piece group, featuring Caesar Masoe, Afele Tolai, Ezra Iupeli, Giovanni Lesa, James Feaunati, Mat Pa'ese, Venu Masoe, A'aifou Ta'anoa and Natu Sopoaga, are quickly coming one of New Zealand's premier reggae bands.
We caught with vocalist Caesar Masoe and found out some more about this intriguing band.
Where and when did BrownHill form?
BrownHill formed about 4 years ago. We were all just a bunch of friends that grew up together and Wellington's not that big... everybody knows everybody. We all got together and started a band to keep in touch with music outside of church. We started as a covers band. I loved it, it was the best time being a covers band. We use to play for 4 hours straight. And there's 9 of us, so it would be a $100 each gig (laughs). But it was good fun.
What kind of covers would you play?
We'd play from the Eagles to UB40 to Bob Marley to Earth Wind And Fire to Luther Vandross... just basically a lot of dance music and disco.
Where did the name BrownHill come from?
BrownHill came from our guitarist. He formed the band 4 years ago and use to live in a cul-de-sac, a grove. And at the end of the grove there use to be a hill there and the grass would go brown in summer. And that's what they'd call themselves, the "BrownHill boys". That's when all the kids would come out, as soon as they see that grass has gone brown, that was the signal they could play cricket till 10 o'clock at night. So he formed the band and we thought will take that name - BrownHill.
Is tricky having 9 members in the band?
Yeah, it has its moments but everyone's on the same page with what we want to achieve with goals and stuff like that. And thanks to our parents with our upbringing, respect is the first thing. When we have issues or stuff like that we sort it out straight away, then and there.
You've just released your debut album ‘First Love'. How long had you guys been working on it for?
We started recording it halfway through 2011. After backing J Boog and Fiji, we thought lets start doing our own stuff. So we started recording from then and last year we finished recording the album and released an EP by ourselves. We wanted to get to the next level and can't fund it ourselves so we joined forces with FMG (Frequency Media Group) and it's been good. It was easy because we had the finished product, we just needed their funding to push it.
On this album it seems like you've really embraced the Samoan culture.
Yeah. We did a cover of ‘Ita e ua Lili'a' by Punialava'a, an old Samoan band. And they are one of the greats. I was a bit skeptical about doing it because in our culture everyone loves Punialava'a. But the feedback so far... far out! They really love it and it's doing really well.
We're did you record ‘First Love'?
Most of the ground work was done at home in my garage. Our guitarist has all the studio gear so we set up in the garage. I took six months off work and just nailed the whole album.
Are you guys gonna tour with the album?
Yeah, we're heading to Australia first in May. I think we're doing 8 shows in Aussie... 8 shows in 12 days, so it's going to be fun. And I think when we get back we'll start in New Zealand.
What's been your stand out show so far?
As a musician it would probably be Raggamuffin. It was our first time playing Raggamuffin this year and oh man, it's such an awesome event. I idolise Ali Campbell and grew up listening to him. He's really a chilled out down to Earth guy.
What do you think about the Reggae scene in New Zealand at the moment?
It's awesome. It's unbelievable, because when I was growing up all the young dudes in the Island community were listening to hip-hop. There's nothing wrong with hip-hop and I love hip-hop, but I'm just so happy that now my kids are going to school they're growing up listening to reggae. There's nothing but good vibes and good messages in the music and that's why I'm happy that people have come out now and done the reggae thing.
What does the future hold for BrownHill?
As soon as we're done with the New Zealand tour we're straight in the studio again because we want to have a second album out before the end of the year ready to go. So whether we release it early next or whatever. So it'll be straight back to the studio and definitely more albums.