Good morning! I can’t believe it’s only 11 am and I’ve already drank my coffee, finished the mirror painting, and I have an interview of sorts I put together with Rob Galloway of The Yalla Yallas, a band I’ve been listening to for the past several months (another discovery made thanks to the Strummerville Foundation, click image at left to go to their website and you can hear their first album streaming in its entirety). I had intended to give a little information about them in a post, but that idea evolved into one better (kind of like one louder), and Rob was gracious enough to spend some time answering a few questions about the band. I did not address this in the interview, but worth mentioning now, the band’s name was carefully chosen to reflect a little bit about who they are, as it is also arguably one of Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros finest songs).
Shan: First, for readers of this blog who are hearing about The Yalla Yallas for the first time, could you give some background about where you are from, and how you got together?
Rob: We’re The Yalla Yallas were from Leeds in Northern England. I formed the band in December 2007. I was a solo artist doing some electronica punk rock style thing which was influenced by artists such as Big Audio Dynamite, Beck, and Eels. I decided a change of direction and got my best friend Matthew Dempsey in to play bass. Will Grinder had just left his previous band 3 Mile High and joined us alongside on-loan drummer Kev Bellwood from 4 Letter Holiday. Kev was later replaced by Matt Delahunty who now completes the line up.
Shan: How did you become associated with/involved with Strummerville?
Rob: It was when I was a solo artist … Pockets who was one of Joe’s best friends and is a trustee for the charity contacted me. I had just released my solo single ‘Girls Are Meaner Than Boys’. He got in touch and said he could help us he wasn’t sure how as the charity was pretty much still in its infancy but he promised he would help. Time goes by and just by chance at a gig in London … I think it was MC5 and Primal Scream at the Royal Festival Hall … Anyway Pockets managed to recognise me … He had never met me properly and we had only ever spoken briefly on the phone … We had a good drink etc… We stayed in touch and when Trish took over as charity manager she basically allowed the funds to go through for us to record our debut album ‘Act Of Defiance’ … They have done alot for us and were so proud to be involved with them.
Shan: How would you describe the sound of The Yalla Yallas, and who are the influences that are most prominent (and how do they find their way into the music you make, be it sound or style or philosophy)?
Rob: The sound is very energetic … It’s positive … It’s raw … It’s honest … It has instinct … It just feels right … The lyrics are something I believe in … They have to be. As for influences … well thats everyday life … Love, Anger, Politics, War, Business, Money, Lust, Despair, Apathy, Hope, Humour. I’d like to think things are going to get better in this world … I think that’s why there’s an air of positivity about us. I think I take dark subjects and somehow inject some hope or humour into it. As for artists that influence us … We could be here all day … Myself and Will have the most diverse musical range and even then were so different from each other but also so the same … Will can listen to Hip Hop, Drone Metal, Blues, Reggae and Folk music all in the same hour. I can listen to Punk, Pop, Rockabilly, and Latin or World music. Dempsey will tend to listen to music that lacks any credibility,and Matt tends to listen to only music that has some weird tenuous link to The Wildhearts or Metallica. However I feel after all that we end up sounding like a mix of The Stooges, Guns n Roses, Rancid, and Social Distortion which is no bad thing. There’s no real thought about how we sound … we just sound like we do and we like what we do.
Shan: What is most important to you?
Rob: Honesty is important to me … I believe we are all equal … and I believe we should look out for one another … why should where you are from or the colour of your skin or anything else for that matter determine how well you get treat by another human being … We should have more respect for ourselves than to carry about prejudgemental fears about another human being. It’s not good for the soul. We are better than that.
Thanks so much to Rob Galloway for taking the time to answer my questions. As I see from one of their updates they’ll be playing a few shows in England in the near future, including one in Leeds on Wed 10th March at Brudenell Social, supporting Los Mondo Bongos (featuring Members of The Mescaleros, The Alarm, Simple Minds, and DJ Ray Gange), I shall as always, be cheering from afar!