Pieter van Exter of the Netherlands-based nine piece Afrobeat collective talks about one particularly painful gig and hopes for better when they return to the UK to play Band on The Wall, Manchester, 21 July.
Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
We are a nine piece instrumental band with percussion, drums, horns, organs, bass and guitar. We are inspired by all kinds of music. The starting point was inspirations from African music such as Afrobeat from Nigeria (Fela Kuti) and Ethiopian jazz music (Mulatu Astatke). But for the current album, the Traveller, we elaborated further to find our own sound. Synths and heavy guitar riffs make the sound more layered and psychedelic.
How have you evolved as a band over the years?
We had the great fortune to be able to play a lot the last few years. Playing gigs is the best way to develop. We visited many countries and have seen many bands playing over the years. Those experiences were great inspirations as well – Turkish 1970s psychedelic funk, for instance, which we discovered during our visits to Istanbul, or Brazilian music.
Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
Coming up with a band name is perhaps the hardest part of being in a band. We could fill books with all the names we came up with and were rejected. One proposal was the Amsterdam Afrobeat Collective. Very glad we chose Jungle by Night in the end since it gives you more freedom.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
As said, we are really developing our own sound. We like to surprise our audience with unusual combinations, weird breaks and do it differently.
How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
We are not really consciously trying to stand out, but with a nine-piece instrumental group influenced by bands most people have never heard of you are already quite unique. We often play at rock, pop and even dance festivals. At dance festivals, the audience does not know what to expect at first, but soon they start to dance and love it.
What’s on your rider?
Besides some beers and wine we mostly ask for healthy stuff. It sounds rather dull, but good food is very important for a good show. Especially if you are on the road for a longer period, sugars and caffeine won’t help you through all the way. Sandwiches are on our rider as well. For us, the show doesn’t end after the last notes. We have to pack our stuff and often drive back to the hotel or home if we play in the Netherlands. Sandwiches help us through the night. Also our trombone player has gluten intolerance. Venues and festivals often provide great gluten-free alternatives.
Tell us about your worst live show.
A personal worst experience was when we played at Shambala festival last year in the UK. It is actually one of our favourite festivals and we were really looking forward to the show. During the concert I stumbled over a monitor speaker while the lights were down for a second. When the lights were back on I lay on the ground with my arm dislocated. The NHS took good care of me and I was fine, but it was a horrible feeling to sit next to the stage in pain while the rest of the band continued. Next week we play at the same stage at Secret Garden Party, so I hope to overcome my trauma there.