THE FUN BOMB! Q&A with KAMAL SOLIMAN, member of the band LANCE HERBSTRONG
[Originally published on DC Setlist on February 12, 2011. Republished here with permission.]
The band LANCE HERBSTRONG also known as "The Fun Bomb" rolled through DC this past week as the opening act for Morcheeba at the 9:30 Club. The universe seems to be conspiring for the band to be in the right place, at the right time with support coming from all directions. We caught up with them backstage to get the scoop on who they are and where they're headed. See what DJ Kamal Soliman shared with us before the show.
Q: Who is Lance Herbstrong and how did you formulate?
A: Lance Herbstrong is Kamal Soliman, Bill Sarver, and Peter Distefano. Bill and I started all this just as a fun studio project to remix songs we liked. I was a big fan of Manu Chao and befriended them all when they played Lollapalooza in 2006. When Manu opened up the song Politkills for remix, I called bill to do the engineering for it. I know Manu is a clash fan, so we decided to use the original instrumental version of the rock the casbah beat, a song called 'Mustapha Dance.' after doing that song, we didn't do anything for a year, until I came off tour with thievery. Bill and I did our second song, a mashup of Thievery's Meu Destino and Manu Chao's Mi Vida. The new song is entitled Manu Destino and this is the song that launched everything for us. Thievery loved it, ESL labelmate Federico Aubele loved it and enlisted us to do a remix for his album. Once ESL licensed our music, we came up with the name, and were off and running from there. Peter joined the band when we played lollapalooza. We remixed his Porno for Pyros song Orgasm, to debut at lolla. I asked Peter to play it live with us and he loved it so much, he never looked back and is now a permanent member of the group.
Q: You've been the tour manager for Thievery Corporation for several years now. How supportive have Eric Hilton and Rob Garza been of your own musical endeavours?
A: Rob and Eric are a huge inspiration to me personally and to the band. But with Rob and Eric it's not just a job. I consider them to be great personal friends - and they are also one of my favorite bands, I love everything they've done, and after touring with them and the live band, I felt really inspired to work on music myself. That inspiration led to our second remix Manu Destino. From the second they heard it, they have been nothing but supportive of what we are doing. And they invited Lance Herbstrong to play 2 official Thievery Corp/Massive Attack after parties on our last tour, and every time they both came up and played with us at some point during the set.
Q: For those who've never seen one of your shows how would you describe your musical style?
A: That's tough to answer because we don't stick to anyone genre. People tell us we do have a 'sound' but I'm not really sure what that is, although I do recognize that there is one. What we do is take iconic old songs that people know and remix them or mash them up with others, so what you hear is a combination of the familiar music you've known all your life (but maybe haven't heard in a decade), and we put our own spin on it and modernize it for the people of today. It's all an homage to these great songs of old that captured a feeling, and what we try to do is build on that feeling but take it to the next level. I like to describe our show as a "fun bomb." When we do our high energy sets, we see shit-eating grins on everyone's faces, and people both older and younger we see dancing like they haven't in quite sometime. Especially these days when a lot of DJ culture is listening to really hard dub step, which gets people moving but not really dancing, I feel our show is a breath of fresh air to those that really like to groove and move their bodies.
Q: We understand you've got tracks on Soundcloud and iTunes.
A: The songs on iTunes are the ones that we licensed to ESL music - those are Luna y Sol ( Federico Abueleremix ), I Came Running ( Ancient Astronauts remix ) and Cantata ( Natalia Clavier Remix ). All the other unlicensed songs are on our Facebook, Myspace and Soundcloud. If you go to LANCE HERBSTRONG and give us an email address, you can download our ACL set. And once on the homepage you can click thru to all our other online properties. The songs we've chosen to remix come from every genre. Go to the sites and see for yourselves.
Q: You played Lollapalooza last summer, tell us about that show...
A: Lolla was our second show ever, and where everything came together for us. We had just finished the Orgasm remix and asked pete to sit in with us 2 days before the show. Our drummers were invited to sit in with us here as well since they were from Chicago - they are Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering and Thievery, and Ricky Gonzalez of the Thickness and Chicago Afrobeat Project. We met Ricky the day of the show, and Peter never heard of us until we asked him to sit in 2 days prior. The stage show was great, it was a coming out for us, where people in the industry who knew me came out of curiosity and left knowing that we actually have something good going. We also played the Lolla afterparty on site at the festival, and this was the gig where everyone including us realized that Lance Herbstrong has something unique. The after party was explosive, we did the high energy set and people were having the best time ever. It was amazing, and this led to people in the industry giving us many more opportunities, without them having to doubt if the show was gonna be good.
Q: You are based in Austin, TX and ended up playing an impromptu gig at the Zinc Stage at ACL 2010! How did this come about?
A: This was crazy. We had played the night before opening for Beats Antique. At 3 AM I took all the band gear to my office on site, as we were playing the ACL after party the next day. I got a call around 1 PM asking if it was possible for lance to sit in. Since we had all the gear there, it was possible, I just had to wake up the other guys. We got everyone down to the fest and went on at 3 PM. We were replacing the Gayngs who had their bus and gear repossessed by the bus company and couldn't play. No one knew who we were, but we won them over. We had a huge crowd, and since I work for the festival, everyone was there to support. Our creative team made an 8 foot joint and threw it into the crowd, all kinds of people were onstage dancing, it was a pretty epic, totally spontaneous, and a moment we will never forget.
Q: How stoked are you to be opening for MORCHEEBA tonight the 9:30 Club!
A: We're totally honored and still surprised that we're even here. And to start in DC at 930 club of all places is even that much sweeter for me, since Thievery and The Roots I have to them are all based here. We're very excited, and looking forward to playing some of our more down tempo melodic stuff to warm up the crowd before Morcheeba.
Q: We love your Electric Avenue Videdo! Why did you pick an Eddie Grant tune?
A: Electric Avenue is yet another reggae remix we've done. Reggae is a big influence, and this song is so great, we felt it needed to be brought back to life. We don't use any of the chorus parts, just the main verses, and the video, well we just had fun with it. The whole thing is a blast back to the 80's - anyone who lived during that time knows how big that song was, and the comedic video is a reflection of that time. We hope everyone enjoys it, we had a damn good time working on the song. Special thanks to our VJ Chris Jackson for creating the video. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO .
Q: South By South West is in right in your backyard in Austin. Will you be playing any gigs that week?
A: We are. Right now, we are playing the C3 CONCERTS Late Night Industry Party, the Madison House Agency showcase at Beauty Bar, and a show at the Virgin Music House. We will probably add another show or two by the time it comes upon us, but so far we have these 3 shows.
Q: What are the 5 songs (& artists) that have been looping on your iPod this week?
A: A lot of whats on my iPod is old classic reggae:
Reggae is therapy to me, and when we travel I pretty much need to hear it, it just hits you right, its like the sun or the ocean after a big hangover, it just rejuvenates. I have 'Roll Call' by Tenor Saw, 'Wicked Act' by Black Uhuru, 'Legalize It' Sublime version, 'Ganja Smuggling' by Eek-a-Mouse, and 'M16' by Lone Ranger (who we actually mixed into a drum and bass track and mashed that up with Thunderball's dnb version of 'Bam Bam' by Sister Nancy - new version altogether is called Bam16).
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