Last time we chatted to Gold Coast blueslords BB Factory, they’d just released single ‘Save Me’, crushed at Blues on Broadbeach, had an album 80% done and were supporting legend Lachy Doley at Soundlounge. I decided to visit the tricked out studio of guitarist Pedro Verhoeven to chat to him and frontman Harold Jackson about what progress the eclectic international quintet had made in the intervening months.
Pedro jumped straight in.
“Well both our singles (‘Save Me’ and ‘Blues For You’) went to the top of the iTunes blues roots chart, and an even cooler surprise was ‘Blues For You’ topping the AMRAP regional chart. As each one comes out it’s getting a bit more traction.”
The group is hoping that the upward trajectory continues with their upcoming album, ‘First World Blues’. We were lucky enough to get a sneaky listen, and we can tell you folks, it’s a fun ride. Something that particularly gave me the giggles was a lyric from track ‘Fantasy’: “I slipped on something and fell on my butt”. Wonderfully absurd fare from a band that champions a ‘no rules blues’ approach for sure, and I just had to find out the story behind it from Jackson.
“A friend of mine, Angela, I met her in North Carolina at my Aunty’s house. I was young, and I wasn’t as cool and sophisticated as I am now,” he chuckles.
“I went up to talk to her and I literally slipped and fell on my butt. I was fifteen, so you might as well have taken a pie and hit me right in the face.”
Angsty teen humiliation aside, he still got the girl.
“We were together for a while but then she went back to Virginia and broke my heart, so I had a broken heart and a broken butt.”
We all cackle, and I’m curious as to which of the tracks stand out for the guys themselves, and if they have any favourites. Pedro thinks about it for a minute before replying.
“There are so many ways you can look at favourite. I guess in terms of the final surprise result that I didn’t see coming, it was ‘Sweet Refrain’, because it started as a really dark melancholy ballad and now it’s a feel-good, high energy celebration song.”
Jackson is chewing thoughtfully on his unlit cigar, and I have to prod him to respond.
“Hmm, I can’t say,” he says.
“Songs affect me in different ways I can’t really say I have a favourite. ‘Like Fire’, that song there, that happened too. Most of the stuff I write about happens.”
Pedro interjects. “‘Like Fire’ would be my number two choice, because it also transcended my expectations.”
“…And the sax in it is outstanding,” continues Jackson.
“Whereas ‘Save Me’ keeps me on my toes cause it reminds me to keep running, to keep thinking of new stuff, keep it going.”
The group have also had a lineup change since we last caught up, with drummer Bevan Davison departing to work on different projects and new drummer Cvitan Barac taking up the sticks, and adding a Croatian vibe to the band’s already multi-national flavour.
“He’s played with everyone,” explains Pedro. “He’s a local guy, full time musician, played all the major festivals. He’s a really solid drummer, really reliable. Cvitan and Craig (Hamilton) our bass player are really locked together as a rhythm section… Bevan’s great too of course and we actually did a gig with him two weeks ago when Cvitan couldn’t make it.”
Interestingly, Cvitan was actually the first drummer who recorded with the band when they first got together in 2015. But he ended up being unable to attend their first gig, so Bevan stepped in instead. The guys shake their heads at the symmetry of it.
“You just go with the flow. If you don’t resist it, it ends up being better,” says Pedro.
Since we seem to be getting philosophical, I ask the guys about their musical philosophies.
“Old school,” states Pedro. “All about singing and musicianship not so much about style or trying to keep up with any trends.”
Jackson agrees. “It’s all about being real, honest with ourselves and to the concept of what we’re doing. There are a lot of people we’re following who have done this, so we need to pay homage and give some respect to that.
“But for me there’s also fun. I’m up here to enjoy myself and I feel like if I do that, then the audience is enjoying themselves. [Positive feedback] is all very embarrassing for me. I appreciate it, but I’m doing something I like, I’m not carrying bricks. I just like doing what I do, it’s the driving force for me.”
Pedro smiles. “Oh sure, give it a few more years and the number one diva in the room will be Jackson!” he jokes.
Well, we can wait and see I guess. BB Factory is here to stay.
Catch Jackson, Pedro, Craig, Cvitan and Bruce Crouch (keys) busting out party vibes at the Advancetown Hotel for Mother’s Day on Sunday 13 May before they again make appearances at this year’s Blues on Broadbeach on Sat 19 May at the Oracle Boulevard Stage and then again on Sunday 20 May on The Park Stage (with surprise guests). Pre-order ‘First World Blues’ before 18 May for just $8.99 (normal price $16.99), and get three instant gratification tracks immediately, including the #1 iTunes Blues&Roots singles ‘Save Me’ and ‘Blues For You’.
Visit bbfactorybluesband.com to keep up to date with what’s going on with single and album releases, jump on their Facebook page or YouTube channel to hear some more tunes, and check out 90 sec previews of all nine album songs below. SHARE if you dig it!
IMAGE (c) Linda Angledal