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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Hot 8 Brass Band are back.
The new double A-side digital single “Ghost Town” / “Let Me Do My Thing” is out 8th October on Tru Thoughts, announcing the emphatic return of New Orleans’ premier purveyors of roof-raising, jazz-infused, hip hop-fired marching band music, straight from the heart and fresh from the second line parades.
Featuring a cover version of The Specials’ classic, alongside an original song, this single is the first taste of Hot 8 Brass Band’s eagerly awaited second album, ‘The Life And Times Of…’ which follows on 12th November, and marks their first full LP since 2007’s highly acclaimed debut ‘Rock With The Hot 8’ put them on the global stage.
With a tradition of iconic cover versions behind them – the most famous being “Sexual Healing” – in “Ghost Town” they have another potential hit on their hands, with a reworking that honours the party lilt and ominous lyrical message of the original, strips it back and then ramps it up into a straight-up joyful jam that is pure Hot 8 Brass Band and transposes the poignancy of the song straight onto the streets of their hometown.“What a track to cover. It was very difficult”, says tuba player and band-leader Bennie Pete. “But we can relate to the social commentary and what it meant to the people in the UK at the time. We hope we did it proud.”
“Let Me Do My Thing”, which clocks in at over eight minutes, finds sometime band-member Tyrus Chapman expressing the story of his past relationship with heroin, telling it like it is in the face of judgment from those around him. The song was originally written as a message of defiance to the hypocrites who were happy to stand back and judge, while continuing to indulge in their own vices to excess, drink their alcohol, smoke their drugs of choice. This new version is an updating with extra verses that see Chapman completing the story, having now changed his life around with no help from those people. This epic track, on which his charismatic, life-affirming vocal is joined by raps from Big Al Huntley and Shamarr Allen, is also accompanied on the single promo by a sub-four-minutes radio edit.
Since their last studio release, Hot 8 Brass Band have been far from quiet. In addition to their regular US headline shows, parades and community projects, they have played support slots for the likes of Mos Def, Lauryn Hill and Mary J Blige, and also embarked on successful international tours, playing Glastonbury festival and more. They were featured in Spike Lee’s documentary When the Creek Don’t Rise (the follow up to When the Levees Broke which Hot 8 also appeared in) and most recently, HBO included a piece of their story in the acclaimed Treme TV series.
Hot 8 is a band with stories to tell. Their stories are neither fairytales nor melodramas, but simple, often hard truths: the lives and the times of the band’s eight full-time members, in which they have seen more than their share of tragedy, not least the deaths in violent circumstances of several band members, and the hurricane devastation and aftermath in their city. Carrying on the New Orleans narrative tradition, their debut introduced them and their richly connotative music to the world; “The Life And Times Of…” brings the next chapter, and a new level of significance for those interested in brass band music and its global power. In the meantime, this single brings the party.