Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Interview: Winachi Tribe

Photo Credit: Paul Husband.
Ever since seeing The Winachi Tribe live in Manchester last year I’ve been intrigued about the back to front ways they’ve done things. The Warrington lads have recorded and resided in California, got involved with a fashion label, done videos with Keith Allen and worked with Howie B, The Furious Five, it goes on. Yet they remain a humble group without a massive following over here yet??? This seems to be about to change. With a storming support slot with The Sugarhill Gang and numerous festival slots coming up, this may be the year the Tribe reach everyone’s ears with their funk / electro grooves that will light up your summer. I meet up with the key songwriters Liam Croker and Antony Egerton for a chat in their local boozer….
LTW: So how did it all start?
LC: We’ve been going about five years I think now. Me Ant and Inda (Goldfinger from Ian Brown solo years) were in a band previously before Winachi Tribe called China White for a number of years and, you know we were getting a lot of trouble with the name. The heroin association with it, the night club, there’s an LA punk band called China White as well, so that name had to go. I think Ian Brown said to Inda, “You can’t keep that fuckin name mate” And then our manager Harry gave us a bit of a nudge saying even the Americans were saying “You can’t do anything with you fuckin guys with a band named after smack you know” We changed the name. I came up with Winachi, which is an anagram of basically China White, and the Tribe comes from us being a bit of a collective mentallity I suppose. And it just started. It was like China White on steroids, you know what I mean? We went on stage and it’s was like Stars In Their Eyes on hard drugs. We walked on stage to support Zak Starkey, Ringo’s son as China White in January 2015 and came off as The Winachi Tribe.
LTW: It’s clever the way you’ve used an anagram to change your name.
LC: We didn’t want to change the name. That’s who we were. Everyone was a bit upset that we had to do it. It stems from a forced name change which was probably the best thing we ever did. We fought it off for years. It’s a big step. It was a big change.
LTW: I’ve been through a band name change myself. It’s hard.
LC: It’s like moving house innit? China White were quite dark, down tempo, Tricky, Massive Attack, we were influenced by a lot of Hip Hop. All The Winachi is to me is an evolved version of China White.
LTW: You seem to have a funk element fused with electro. Is that intentional? You don’t sound like the typical Manc indie band.
LC: We all have varied music collections. Eclectic. We’re influenced by Parliament, Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone, stuff like that. Again what you said with the electro thing, Hip Hop. It’s like you said to me after the gig in Manchester, you can hear that slight indie rock touch in places.
LTW: Some people say there’s a Mondays thing going on. I can’t see that.
LC: Lazy journalism. There’s a dance element going on and we’re all from the North West. That’s as far as it goes.
LTW: How did Inda get involved. He was involved with Ian Brown for quite a while.
LC: When me and Ant started China White we had a hit list. WE’ve gone through quite a lot of it to be fair. We just reached out to him. We sold our spiel to him and he said lets have a listen to ya. We sent the music over and he loved it. We went down to Leeds, met him in a studio and the rest is history.
LTW: His bongos are like an extension with keyboards.
LC: Yeah, they’re forever growing.
LTW: I’ve never seen a bigger bongo set up in me life!
LC: It’s like you say when you’ve got you typical Manc indie band of four or five, all dressed similar with the same personality, Winachi is quite eclectic. We’re all very individual people, both visually and personality wise. We’re all into different music I suppose. Inda’s into different stuff, the bass player is, we’re a mixed race group as well. I think that’s why the music is crossover.
LTW: How did you get involved with the California scene? A lot of British band struggle to break America.
LC: I’ve got to go back to the hit list we have.
AE:  We originally went out there to work with Danny Saber. Our manager got us connected.
LC: We met up with Danny Saber got involved with Harry who set up our management. We went back in 2016 and did the video for Room With A Zoo. The next step the band were getting radio play, press in Hollywood and LA. So we thought, we need to go out there and play. And it was all without corporate backing, there was no one sticking 100 grand on the table, so we thought, how do we do this? There was a lot of hustling, a lot of e-mails. We got it together so we could get out there. Once we got out there, the first time was March last year, we made some inroads.
LTW: I notice you’ve got John X producing you debut album. How’s it going?
LC: It’s going great. We’ve done it in reverse. It’s like we’re making The Wall. A lot’s gone into it. It’s not your average sounding. You won’t have heard anything like it, especially for lads round here. There’s a pop sensibility that runs throughout, so there are songs in there.
AE: It’s got a Californian G funk soul vibe to it through the hip hop sounds.
LC: It’s like a funk opera that we’re making.
LTW: How did you get involved with Sugarhill Gang and Scorpio?
LC: Scorpio flew over here. He stayed in Warrington. We bumped into him and recorded an EP: The Kitchen Sessions with him. We stayed friends with him, toured with him. Then we met the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, we just stayed friends with him, and every time they come over we get the nod. They’re heroes that have become friends. I still get a bit starstruck meeting Melle Mel. I’ve met him loads n all.
LTW: A bit like me if I met KRS One then!
LC: I’ve met him a few times now and it’s like, alright Melle! (shrinking away…) He’s a fuckin huge man as well!
LTW: I see you’re headlining Warrington Festival again.
LC: It’s looking good. Black Grape are headlining the Saturday and we’re doing the Sunday. It’s an honour to be asked to headline our home town’s festival. We’re doing Macc Fest, and we’ve got some big announcements in the pipeline. We’ve got a release coming out in May, a huge deal going on with an Italian fashion designer (Pantofola D’Oro). We were in London and Inda knows someone from the Ian Brown days involved in fashion. They were doing a launch in London, the 1990 collection. Carnaby Street where their store is, they had like a big party with Paulo De Canio. We got the nod and played in the street. Duff from Guns N Roses was there, The Charlatans, it was fuckin nuts. The owner watched us and really liked us. He sponsored our second tour of America in September. We went to Italy to do some shows for the company.
LTW: How did you go down in Italy?
LC: Sound. The mayor from the town came down to watch. We’re going back in June. It’s been full on the last two years. Just dedication and hard work has made this happen. You have to think outside the box a bit. I you have an aim it’s like a game of chess. Think about each move. If they can do it why not us? Everything is possible.
And that’s Winachi Tribe for you. A down to earth bunch of Northerners who are growing at their own pace and are ready to explode on the British music scene. Bring on the funk!
Live Dates: https://www.musicglue.com/thewinachitribe/shows
Website: https://www.musicglue.com/thewinachitribe/

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