“Take the Piss”: The Black Seeds' positivity and how music is like Tetris
On an unusually warm April night I head over to Williamsburg to meet the New Zealand- local The Black Seeds, on tour promoting their new album Dust and Dirt and about to wow crowds at the Brooklyn Bowl. I'm introduced to Daniel Weetman (vocalist and percussionist) and Nigel Patterson (keyboardist), the pair relaxed and with smiles. We kick back on a stoop in the warehouse-ridden neighborhood and begin a great conversation before they hit the stage:
So, you guys started the band in 1998; that's quite a while ago. How has the band been able to keep going for so long?
Daniel Weetman: There are some really good friendships. It's always been a core thing in the band; we all respect each other...on tour, in the studio. And yes, sometimes it can be stressful, but honestly, it's the music that holds us together, it's something we really enjoy.
How did y'all meet?
Back in the early days, living on the East Coast of New Zealand, the original drummer of the band encouraged me to move to Wellington. "Come and have a jam with this band," he said. So I did, and it felt right. From there it just grew. We got a keyboardist, a solid set of horns, Bret McKenzie came and played keys for us. The last seven years we've been joined by a really great rhythm section: Jarney Murphy on drums and Tim Jarray on bass.
Is it hard to have a band with eight people? Does it get crowded, competitive?
Daniel: The majority of the time we enjoy ourselves and brush any tension off. It's a brothers thing. And yeah, we all have our own tiffs; that happens, but it's friendship that's important. One important thing I'll tell you, to get along is to be able to take the piss out of yourself.
Take the piss?
Daniel: You know, just having a joke…In NZ we call it taking the piss!
Lots of your tunes seem to be positive, uplifting music. Do you think that's the purpose of music…upbeat, celebratory? Funk music, reggae music, that's happy.
Nigel Patterson: I reckon the best music is the music you believe in. You live your life and you write about your experiences. Some experiences are good, others bad, but you gotta have the mix. Not all of our songs are totally happy. We have some songs that are bittersweet…they have a happy feel but they are also tinged with melancholy. I just think that we represent what life's like. We do definitely try to focus on the positive aspects; we much rather people go home happy than go home crying.
Daniel: The important thing is having songs with truth in it.