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Backbeat Soundsystem are Cornwall’s biggest reggae band to have breathed in the sea air. We caught up with frontman Dean, sax player Tom and bassist Simmons before they funked out with Leopallooza crowds.

Have you fella’s played here at Leopallooza before?
DEAN: No this is our first time. We are Leopallooza virgins here today.

Do you think that the audience being mainly of Cornish folk that there will already be some BBSS lovers in the audience today?
DEAN: I think if they are Cornish then they probably will have heard of us. Cornwall is quite small and there are not a lot of reggae bands, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who haven’t so it’s always about getting your music out to new audiences and new people.
TOM: We haven’t played North Cornwall before, so it’s nice to spread out a bit from where we usually play.
DEAN: So we can get some more fans.

It seems you guys are picking up fans fairly easily as you’ve already played at Glastonbury festival this year. How did that go?
DEAN: We did indeed, it was cool actually. It is like the big boy of the festivals. It’s always a bit of a mission though, as it’s so big but it’s always really nice and magical to be there.

Did you meet anyone exciting whilst you were there, any idols or bands you’re fans of?
DEAN: Just the random general public really, they’re pretty exciting. No superstars.
TOM: They were all hiding away from the rain,
DEAN: We were gonna try and break into Beyonce’s dressing room but um, we decided it was a bad idea. But no we didn’t get to meet any idols that would have been good.

So although I’m talking to three of you guys now, there are actually eight members to BBSS. What is like playing in such a big band, is it different to what you’re used to?

ALL: Nah it’s pretty different.
DEAN: I played in a metal band before, like way back and a few of the other guys played in punk bands and stuff as well. When they all of fell apart, we all just joined together quite naturally.

You’re not all naturally from a reggae background?
DEAN: Nah everyone’s different, like funk, and jazz and hiphop and y’know soul and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s why where our sound comes from.
So sort of like a natural progression? It’s it’s kind of based in Reggae but not really completely traditional reggae. And it’s got a lot of emphasis on melody, coming from the pop side of things but also just whacking a load of hip-hop in there. Just making sure everything is pretty banging. We write tunes that are going to get people moving.
TOM: Just different blends.
DEAN: Yeah we kinda’ wanted to start it originally as a bit of an experiment, just because we wanted to do something that people would enjoy live, something they can dance to, so that was where it started.

Did you ever expect the band to get this big?
DEAN: No, it was never really an intention to start a band really, we’ve been really lucky we’ve sort of grown every year and it’s been really nice.

What were you all doing before you became a part of BBSS?

DEAN: I dunno really
SIMMONS: I was part of another band but it was a locally based thing, and so Dean asked me to play and I was up for it, so the other band sort of ran its course and ended.
DEAN: a few people came straight from university.
TOM: Yeah I came from University and so I’ve come to the end of that now.

I hear you guys are also playing in France this September, is that the first time you’ve ever played abroad?

DEAN: Yeah, we’re driving to France, although we played in Jersey last week.

I guess that will be a completely fresh audience to BBSS
TOM: Yeah I’ll be surprised if anyone has heard of us in France, unless they check our website beforehand. It’ll be a pretty new crowd I’ll say.

Have you had any crazy adventures on tour this year?

DEAN: I think every weekend is a wild adventure.

Ok last weekend, what happened?
SIMMONS: Oh no, don’t talk about last weekend.
DEAN: We went to Jersey. We were meant to catch a half six ferry over there but it turned out that had actually booked us a half six ferry in the morning, so we missed that one. So they told us that we were on the next morning’s one, so we got up at 4am waited for that ferry but we weren’t on that one either. So they booked us flights from Southampton, so we drove from Weymouth to Southampton. Then just before we got on the plane our drummer had lost his driving license so he didn’t have any ID but we managed to get him on. We had a really nice day at Grassroots, got very drunk and stayed in a nice hotel. Obviously on the way back, we caught the ferry, so when we were in Weymouth, we had to wait for guys to drive to Southampton and back which took about 4 hours. So me and our sax player (Tom) went to watch Harry Potter for the 2nd time.
SIMMONS: and a couple of weekends before that, we managed to break our drummer’s ankle as well, when I rugby tackled him.

Did he do anything to provoke you at all?
SIMMONS: It was kind of out of drunken love.

Just so much passion you had to break a limb
SIMMONS: Yeah leg breaking passion.

Words: Charlotte Gay
Photo: Adam Pedley