Lance Ferguson is a man of soul, so much so in fact that he’s got plenty to spare amongst not only his band The Bamboos, but also the numerous special guests that feature on upcoming album Medicine Man.
Medicine Man is the fifth studio record from The Bamboos, and their most ambitious to date when considering the quality of collaborators. Bobbi Flynn, Megan Washington, Daniel Merriweather, Tim Rodgers and Bamboos’ regular Kylie Auldist all tap into Ferguson’s soul and in turn offer a part of their own.
Of course Ferguson is no stranger to working with multiple vocalists. Between being a member of The Bamboos and his solo project Lanu, Ferguson has crafted songs with an impressive list of accomplices. Yet the songwriter is quick to point out that the music came before the musician.
“With an album like this with so many guests on it, it may kind of be perceived or come across that I sort of went out on this mission to headhunt all these people I wanted, but the truth of the matter is that each song had its own little experience and story,” Ferguson clarifies.
“So I didn’t feel like I had this kind of short list of people I just wanted to work with and tick them off, it was really different than that. You know Tim Rodgers I met through Megan and…obviously Megan I had worked with before, so that was really easy.”
Ferguson doesn’t seek out fellow artists just to trade off their status, and at times is unsure as to who will step into the booth even after a song is complete. However, on the occasions when Ferguson does have a particular voice in mind, there’s no guarantee they’ll be available.
“The track with Bobby Flynn, for instance, called Midnight – I really had the sound of his voice in mind as I wrote the song, kind of not a hundred percent being confirmed that he was actually going to be involved. I just sought of had the sound of his voice in my mind, so it was obviously great that it all worked out,” Ferguson remarks.
“The track Window, which is the dedication to Amy Winehouse, Kylie Auldist sings on that one. That one was really just a song that I wrote myself on my guitar and Kylie sort of came afterwards and I didn’t really have a clear sort of vision of who would vocally be the best singer for it, but Kylie did a fantastic job.”
Another fantastic job is the cover of James Litherland’s Where to Turn, or as it’s more commonly known today, Wilhelm Scream by Jame Blake (who covered and changed the title of his father’s song). The Bamboos’ cover appears under Blake’s title for the track and features Megan Washington.
Ferguson and Washington are longtime collaborators dating back to when Ferguson played guitar in Washington’s band. Their combined rendition of Wilhelm Scream may see the song re-enter triple j’s Hottest 100 again next year.
“When I heard that song it sort of just jumped out to me as a great kind of gospel soul tune just in its raw form…it just has that kind of sensibility about it,” Ferguson declares.
“I didn’t want to get a real soul diva sound on it. I wanted to retain the kind of glacial thing that James Blake’s version had. So I think Megan really came to the party with that and it worked out great.”
Not surprisingly though, it’s the appearance of Tim Rodgers on lead single I Got Burned that has garnered the most attention thus far.
“I met Tim when I was doing the Big Day Out tour as part of Washington. We just kind of hit it off hanging out backstage. He expressed interest in doing this, and I was certainly into him being involved just because his whole personality is just the kind of angle I wanted on that song,” Ferguson remembers.
“It’s a soul track, it’s got a bit of a kind of swamp blues like element to it. Getting Tim in the studio, I think the obvious thing would be to get him to do his wild rock thing, but getting him to do the falsetto style vocal I think really is what made the track work.”
With so many sterling singers on display, picking out a follow-up single would be a tricky process, although Ferguson has a feeling its already been decided.
“I think everyone’s pointing to the track that happened with Daniel Merriweather called I Never. I’m not actually sure if I’m supposed to reveal that or not, but I think that’s what has been bandied around., which is cool because that was another collaboration that I was so pleased happened,” Ferguson reveals.
“Daniel Merriweather being a Melbourne boy and just being one of the great exports of this town in terms of what he’s done overseas… So yeah, I think we’re going to be shooting a video clip for that and that’s looking like the next single.”
Shortly after Medicine Man is released, The Bamboos will embark on a national tour. With the various vocalists that star on the record, fans should expect a few surprises.
“My management won’t let me talk about that. Nothings going out on any promotional material, but I can reveal that there will be some very special guests on the tour, but that’s about all I can say.”
The Bamboos – Medicine Man – Out June 1, 2012
Watch: The Bamboos – I Got Burned feat. Tim Rogers
Music Feeds Presents The Bamboos Medicine Man National Tour – June/July 2012
Saturday 16th June – Melbourne – The Corner
Friday 22nd June – Sydney – The Metro
Thursday 28th June – Byron Bay – The Great Northern
Friday 29th June – Sunshine Coast – Coolum Civic Centre
Saturday 30th June – Brisbane – The HiFi
Friday 6th July – Perth – The Bakery
Saturday 7th July – Adelaide – The Gov