‘It’s minus-20 Centigrade, we’re just below the Arctic Circle here, so yeah, it’s pretty cold.’
The frontman of the nine-headed Urban Voodoo Machine is preparing to return to his adopted home of the UK where he and his band have some seriously unfinished business.
Firstly there’s a repeatedly-postponed gig at The Wedge, originally due back in April 2020. And then in spring they’ll finally release their fifth album, Snake Oil Engine, which was recorded pre-pandemic.
Due to the obvious logistics of getting everyone together full band shows highlighting their ‘Bourbon-soaked Gypsy blues bop’n’stroll’ have been sporadic.
‘We did our first show after 18 months at the Red Rooster Festival in Norfolk, which was to 5,000 people. It’s a great festival as it's all roots and rock'n'roll, so we fit right in.
‘We definitely had to check all of our equipment first as most of it had been in storage for a year and a half. But it all worked – we had a couple of days rehearsing and we were back in the saddle, it's like riding a bike!’
They also managed a handful of shows in December last year ‘before the country went into a sort of unofficial lockdown, and we released a limited edition EP, The Killer Stocking Filler. Then I came to Norway. I was supposed to do some solo shows over here but the country went into lockdown here – it's funny times. It's been two years of this BS, so I'm kind of getting over it, you know?’
The Wedge gig will be their first of the year.
‘Fourth time lucky!’ laughs Paul-Ronney. ‘It's coming up to 20 years of the band soon – we've got about 100 songs or something and we haven't been cursed with any hits, so that's kind of a good thing... We do try to mix it up.
‘We have a song called January Blues, so we'll probably play that one.’
Snake Oil Engine is now to be released in April, ‘so it'll be an April fool’s! It wasn't the plan, but we didn't want to release it before we could tour it, and although we did a bunch of live shows last year, it was a question of getting the live show back together and then we can focus properly on the album in spring with a bunch of dates around that as well.’
The band have released a couple of tasters for the album, Living in Fear and recent single Empty Plastic Cup.
The latter features a spoken intro by Rosa Marsh, daughter of former Machine member Nick Marsh, who sadly died of cancer in 2015.
‘She was 11 then, probably turned 12 now. She's also on my London Texas Lockdown solo album as well – I did a cover of one of Nick's solo songs, Last Train To Wherever. So she's been a collaborator on a couple of albums now.’
Does this mean we can see Rosa joining the band’s ranks full time one day?
‘Exactly,’ Paul-Ronney cackles, ‘we're working on it!’
In the meantime though, Paul-Ronney recorded and released his debut solo album, London Texas Lockdown. A critical hit, it appeared in several end of year best-of lists.
‘Yeah, that was great. it wasn't an album I was planning to make, it just happened. I had to do something, I can't just sit on my backside.’
It was, unsurprisingly, heavily influenced by events around him.
‘Definitely some of the themes on it, like One Ghost Town, and 2020 (You Been A Pain in the A$$) speaks for itself doesn't it? I can actually sing it now as 2021,’ he sings the amended chorus line and chuckles, ‘but let's hope 2022 is going to be better, right?’
Urban Voodoo Machine are at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea on Saturday, January 22. Go to wedgewood-rooms.co.uk.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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