(PCM) We were absolutely thrilled when we learned the news that Grammy-award winning band Baha Men had released their new album “Ride With Me” which marks their first new studio album in over a decade. “Ride With Me” also marks the band’s first album under a three album deal with Sony Music.
The new album is fantastic and it truly captures the essence of what Baha Men are all about. It perfectly captures that live element and spark and was an incredibly fun listen! We absolutely can’t wait to bear witness to some of these tracks in the true live environment. A full fledged US tour is in the works for late 2015 / early 2016.
We had a chance to catch with Baha Men vocalist Dyson Knight to chat about what the band has been up to during the last few years, the recording process for the new album, their touring plans and more!
On the feedback the album has been receiving so far
DYSON KNIGHT: I have only read two of the reviews so far and one was extremely good and the other was extremely honest, but still good, so yes, I’m very happy with the feedback. I am more excited about the way that people are responding to actually seeing the band together on the road performing. The “Today Show” performance came off great, as well as the appearance at Autumn Fest. Things are looking really good right now.
On the “Today Show” performance and having a great time performing live
DK: That is our element. A lot of people don’t realize that the band is a band of real musicians. The guys just love to play and the front line just loves to perform. There is a lot going on as far as what we are capable of doing live. It was nice to be able to do it in front of such a large audience.
On the recording process of “Ride With Me” and what the mind-set was like in the studio
DK: It all started off pretty slow, you know, we did a whole bunch of tracks and really focused on getting that chemistry that was comfortable for the label, Sony, and for our producer Troyton Rami and something that was true to the actual vibe of the band. That was a very long process before we actually clicked on “Night & Day” which was the first one that got me to say that’s the type of song we are looking for and that was actually rewritten five times. It’s not my favorite track from the album, I was most excited about “Carry On” because that really carried a lot of energy that I knew the band would really enjoy performing, especially the front line. There is a lot of running around and dancing and fun interacting with the audience.
Recording that one, everything took place with Rik and I traveling to Florida and sitting down with Black Shadow Records and just brainstorming with Troyton and his crew. It was just coming up with ideas and taking them back to the band. Some of the members would fly up from percussion such as Monk to add that junkanoo flavor to it and things were able to be pieced together in this digital age. All of the songs were a lot of fun to record.
On capturing the essence of the band’s live spirit with the recording
DK: The leader of the band Isaiah Taylor, who plays the bass, he’s a junkanooer. Junkanoo is our native cultural sound and he’s very conscious of ensuring that the music isn’t mistaken for any other type of music from the region, not the soca music or the reggae music, and that it actually has that flavor of junkanoo mixed with the pop sound, so that it’s more powerful to the entire world. We were very conscious about adding that junkanoo element, but everything else was just fun because the most important part is just the feel. How the music feels when you perform it has to be light, has to be playful and both energizing and rejuvenating. That’s what we go for in our music.
On the up rise of social media and the changes in the music industry from a recording stand point
DK: (laughs) We are sucking big time right now when it comes to social media! It’s tough because I’m the youngest member of the band and I probably do most of our social media outside of the person that’s actually responsible and it’s like pulling teeth with the guys. For as long as they’ve been around, they don’t really see the importance of being in front of the mind in that social media scene and not realizing how much time people spend on social media and how it is the way that a lot of information gets dispersed. They would really prefer, and I would prefer too, just performing. Even if we can randomly perform at different places and just let people post about their experiences watching the band.
It is a totally different ballgame. The labels take on a different stance when it comes to putting out talent nowadays. They do a certain thing for the A-listers and then for a band like Baha Men, after 15 years, to reintroduce us, the budget isn’t as great. They believe in the music and that’s a great thing, they really love the band and I think it’s our Bohemian hospitality that’s keeping us in good standing with them. We can do a whole lot of work as far as social media goes and keeping up with how things have changed in the industry.
If we are going to be successful this time around we have to adapt to these changes. We are confident with the album, but it takes more than just having great songs.
On any songs that didn’t make the album cut or they would like to revisit
DK: Yeah, definitely. We did a lot of tracks prior to landing on what we felt would be a good balance and blend for this album. Before we actually walked into Black Shadow Records we had some forty plus recorded songs that we had done over the past fifteen years. It’s not a lot actually, but those are the ones that we felt strongly about coming through times, but never really got into releasing it. It was pretty much the same old school mentality of wanting to have a big label behind us before we release, as opposed to just going out on your own and being something like Macklemore, who is winning Grammy’s while being independent.
They didn’t have that vision, so that is what kind of stopped Baha Men from just staying current with their fans and I speak as if I’m not part of the band and I realize that (laughs)
On the most misunderstood aspect of Baha Men and the success of their single “Who Let The Dogs Out?”
DK: It’s difficult because “Who Let The Dogs Out?” did so much for the band and we appreciate that, but the band … I guess we were in cruise control before “Who Let The Dogs Out?” and we probably would have maintained a consistent presence had it not been for “Who Let The Dogs Out?” because that song just overshadowed everything that the band has done. To be honest with myself and the band is honest with itself that “Who Let The Dogs Out?” is just a mega-song. It’s one of those songs that no artist usually comes by … there’s only one every couple of years that is that big and sticks and stays for fifteen years.
I can’t say that we regret it, but I can say that it’s been a blessing and a curse at the same time. The thing that we want people to remember, or actually realize, is that, yes, that is our mega-hit, but it’s not really the only hit. There’s been others, just not as big as “Who Let The Dogs Out?”!
On the inclusion of “Off The Leash” on the new album and it’s homage to “Who Let The Dogs Out?”
DK: I had no part in it. (laughs) I’m talking about being totally against something, but I’m a team player and I went along with the guys who were making the decisions. That song is really just looking for an avenue to reintroduce the band. All of the members of the band want to pull away from “Who Let The Dogs Out?” not to say to not have to perform it, but not to recreate another “Who Let The Dogs Out?” song … to have something else to be valued for, even thought at this point people still chant for the song at the beginning of our 90-minute set. (laughs)
They still want to hear “Who Let The Dogs Out?”, but we can take that because they still hear our other material and they dig it! “Who Let The Dogs Out?” is just the climax and it is just getting beyond that!
On touring for the rest of this year into 2016
DK: Everything is fresh at the gate and we have been waiting on the release of the album because it’s been a three year wait. It started out as just being an EP that Sony Records wanted to release on their Latin America umbrella and then it just grew from there. It’s a growing process with the touring and with the shows. Step one right now is for us to renew our working visas, so there is a lot of work to be done still. We have a strong team and we are doing a lot. Stuff that I can mention, you know we had to wait three years to even talk about it, but the team is very, very strong. We just did the big football game half-time show at Metlife Stadium and there’s going to be more things in sporting arenas. We are looking back at the kids market with Nickelodeon and Disney, if we can get in there and just work to spread this music.
On his projections for Baha Men in the future
DK: We actually want to start full swing the beginning of a tour on New Years, we have a few offers and we have to figure out just the right one to take for the New Years concert. We also have people promoting what’s going on with us through social media. We have the dance called the Baha Shuffle that the front line and myself and Leroy Butler came up with and we want to make that viral. It’s a really cool line dance and I’m pretty sure it’s going to catch on! We have performed it a few times and people are already beginning to do it.
We are also looking into doing … I know there is some talks with One Direction to team up, but that’s one of the things you really can’t say it’s confirmed just yet and there’s some other people that are preparing to tour that we may team up with, so it’s going to be a busy year next year and we are just looking to put in a whole lot of work.
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