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Band Meeting – The Bridge

Jon Inder – The Bridge

The impossible question to start – how do you describe your sound?

Photo copyright Edson Acero

We have songs in a range of musical styles – but primarily we play funk and soul. There are some reggae tunes, some afro-latin tracks and other styles in our set too, and we have some slower tunes, but mostly it’s music you can dance to. I think perhaps three quarters of them feature a horn section, some are piano driven, and percussion featues quite a bit. Various members of the band can play multiple instruments, so the instrumentation varies as well, which keeps it fresh I think. I have written quite a few slower songs, love songs mostly, but now that we have plenty of material we tend to play fewer of them live because a more up tempo mix seems to go down better in most live situations. Once people are up and dancing it feels better to keep that vibe going.

What is your favourite music and how does it affect your own?

That’s such a tough question for me. I have very, very broad musical tastes, and love so much music I could honestly list a couple of hundred favourites artists – everything from Curtis Mayfield to Radiohead. I have had to edit my list down because I couldn’t resist listing so many names. I could keep listing music I find influential or inspirational all day! However, not all of the music that I enjoy has become an influence on the sound of The Bridge. I love Hip Hop, Dancehall reggae, Afrobeat and Neil Young but that hasn’t surfaced in the music (yet!).

In terms of the sound of the band, I guess classic funk and soul is the main inspiration – but there are a range of influences, that not just me, but the rest of the band bring to the table as well. I can think of specific tunes where I have defintely been inspired in my songwriting by tracks by James Brown, Prince, The Meters, India Irie, Stevie Wonder, Bebel Gilberto, Radiohead, Portishead, The Cinematic Orchestra (featuring Roots Manuva) and Bob Dylan, and that’s just the ones I can think of now. Listening to artists such as Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Michael Franti & Spearhead and of course Bowie and Prince has helped to give me the confidence to go ahead and write songs in a wide variety of styles I think, and not to worry about sticking to one style or genre. It’s not a deliberate attempt to prove anything, it’s just the different ideas that seem to pop into my head. I’ve spent years absorbing and listening to so much music, it all seems to feed into the music I write.

I am a huge reggae fan but although I love Bob Marley & The Wailers, Toots & The Maytals, Burning Spear etc as well as lots of more contempoary roots reggae like Chronixx and Protoje, I am not consciously trying to copy Jamaican reggae or pretend that I have West Indian heritage, they are still my songs and I hope they sound honest. Listening to all of that great reggae has definitely helped me to understand how to structure the reggae songs though, and I hope that they have that authenticity.

Photo copyright Edson Acero

I guess even though it has taken me a long time in my life to finally start writing songs, listening to so much music so deeply, and seeing hundreds of live performances over my life has made it easy to write songs in some respects. I wrote poetry for many years before coming to song, so I picked up applicable skills for the craft through that, and my background as a percussionist has had an impact too – becoming aware of the different time signatures in the african and latin music that I love has rubbed off – and we have a tune in 6/8 time for example, as well as sections of one song in 5/4 time (although I must thank my Dad for introducing me to Dave Brubeck for loving that! He’s an accomplished jazz drummer and has educated me in everything from big band to bossa nova).

Playing live – half an hour in the toilet, half a bottle of JD or complaining about the rider?

I love playing in front of an audience and get a real high from it, but I can personally get quite self conscious too, so one drink or two at the most takes the edge off of that. I wouldn’t want to have more. It’s nice to feel sharp.

How did you get together as a group?

I had written a few songs and had been playing them as an acoustic duo with a friend and guitar player Michael Hillier at open mic nights around town. Katie Whitehouse put me in touch with Paul Hussell and he collaborated with us a few times on cello and trombone, so when Michael decided he wanted to move on from working with me, a friend mentioned to Paul that I was looking for another collaborator. I heard that Paul was interested and so we got together. In our first meeting, Paul played me a beautiful Piano piece he had written, and I came up with the words to what was to become a love song called ‘You Know I Do.’ We really gelled musically and after we had a few tracks together we started recruiting the band. There have been a few changes to the line up over time – but the other founding members were our drummer Charlie and Martin on bass (and occasional trumpet).

Worst moment at a live event?

With The Bridge, probably our debut gig at The Barrel House in July 2022. I made a few mistakes, was very hot and uncomortable and had a definite case of imposter sydrome half the way through the gig. I heard this amazing band behind me and felt like I was letting them down, and anxiety and self doubt set in. I am happy that I kept going and didn’t fall apart, but afterwards I felf pretty low even though everyone was saying it was a great gig. It was only afterwards that a fellow musician and friend Matthew Rochford suggested my self doubt was really just imposter syndrome, and he was right. I have enjoyed every gig since then.

Image copyright Edson Acero

Have the band had any studio time and where could we hear the results?

We have recorded a few tracks, but that was back in 2019 with our first guitarist Sam Heston. A couple of them are pretty good, ‘Show’, ‘Love is a Straight Line’ and ‘I Choose To See The Good’ in particular, they are all on our Soundcloud page, and I have posted links to them on our Facebook page, alongside a few bits of live footage from gigs and rehearsals. We plan to get more content to upload soon, because the recordings we have so far don’t really represent the mostly up tempo nature of our set now, or the expanded line up that features our horn section of Paul on trombone and Petya Halse on saxophone, or the beautiful additional backing vocals from Tess and Georgia Swallow together. Sam was a great guitarist, but Eli Eliason’s playing suits the band better, and he enjoys playing in a range of styles to suit the tunes. Luckily he’s accomplished at them all! Hopefully we’ll get in the studio again soon – we desperately need some decent promotional material. As you know, Peter, songs tend to evolve through live performance, and the contributions of the newer band members has been significant.

You have a big band by most standards, is it hard getting everyone together?

Yes. It’s an absolute nightmare! But it’s totally worth the effort though.

Imposter syndrome or the full Freddie Mercury?

Ex imposter sydrome, heading towards the full Jon!

Who writes the songs? Is it a collaboration of everyone, one or two, or a solo effort?

I have written the lyrics to all but one of the actual songs (a great anti-war song called ‘You Can Always Ask For More’), but every member of the band has contributed to the music, and I feel very privileged to have them all as collaborators.

For many of the songs I have come to the band with a pretty clear idea of what I want that particular song to sound like, and sometimes it will end up sounding close to what was in my head, but at other times it might change massively after everyone has contributed ideas. Very often, a certain bass part, guitar shape, horn lick or drum pattern that I had never anticipated will totally transform the tune and totally ‘make’ it. I love that about making music with The Bridge. I don’t write music or play a melody intrument other than the harmonica, so I am totally reliant on the amazing musicality of the rest of the band. The songs really benefit from that collective input – and a suggested key change or a shift in texture on a middle 8, or an added part on BV’s might be the missing piece that track needs.

Special mention must be made of Paul. Some songs were written in close collaboration with him, as I mentioned earlier. With them the process has been quite different. Paul will play me a piano piece or a guitar piece he has written, and I will try to find a lyrical idea that does his beautiful melody some justice! We will generally work on it together and then bring it to the rest of the band to flesh everything else out. He is a wonderfully talented composer on piano and guitar, and it has been a joy to write some songs that way.

I hope that we can all make more time to just jam together in the future too. It’s something that we have all discussed but never found the time to do – but I am sure we could get some new tracks together that way too, everyone is so tight these days and the communication is good in the band, which is really important I think.

Image copyright Edson Acero

Your lyrics have an uplifting , affirmative vibe to them – is that important to you?

Yes, very important. It’s a conscious choice too. I love many style of music, but I wanted the sound of The Bridge to be positive and for it to be ‘feel good music’ – but at the same time the songs are not always about easy things. Again I would cite Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Whithers, Michael Franti and others as examples of that. I think positivity is important both on a personal level and in society. If you don’t believe change is possible it won’t be. Of course I have written songs that are more introspective and melancholy but they are the love songs, mostly, and I have had my fair share of let downs in love, so I am just being honest about that. I think overall honesty is the most important thing in any art. I am being honest when I write positive message music too – I think I’m an optimist these days by choice, so they are a natural expression of how I feel about stuff, and how I think it is best to interact with the world.

You’re given the opportunity to do whatever you want, what’s your perfect gig?

Having played at Glastonbury many times with Carnival Collective (as a percussionist), I’d love to go there and play one of the smaller stages in The Green Fields with The Bridge. Or any festival really. I think we’d all like to get on the festival circuit with the band, we could deifinitely go down well in front of festival audiences I think.

Where next for the Bridge?

We don’t have any more gigs lined up at the time of writing this, but I hopefully we can get some more lined up soon. We also plan to get back in the studio soon as well, and I have more songs to bring to the band so there’s plenty to do. Our most pressing need is to get some good promotional material together, as we don’t have enough recordings of the music, video or even band photographs, which is why the picture of the band I have provided doesn’t feature Petya our saxophone player or Tess our backing vocalist! Sadly, Georgia Swallow, who is in the picture, has now left the band now. She will be sorely missed but we will hopefully having someone else joining soon to join Tess on backing vocals, so we plan to keep the 8 piece sound!


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Ruby Cheney
Ruby Cheney
3 months ago

I am a die hard opera fan/singer and I would love to put together a performance especially in a festival. It’s an opportunity to scout local talents and offer affordable opera to the local community. Would appreciate your thoughts.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x