We caught up with the Midlands band, Arcadia Roots about their stint at Glasto, dream gigs and drumming through West Africa
At a small local festival in June when our expectations of great music were less than Pyramid Stage proportions, we were stunned by Arcadia Roots who blew our Birkenstocks off. A band influenced by an eclectic mix of people and genres, they describe their unique sound as psychedelic reggae among other things.
The band is flying high having been selected by Glastonbury judges to support Bastille at the festival’s Pilton Party last year and rocking the BBC Introducing Stage at Lakefest 2017. They have another set at Lakefest 2018 this month where they’ll perform on the main stage with bands like The Darkness. They’ll also be at the One Love Festival which is one of the UK’s major reggae and dub festivals.
Dave Small is on lead vocals and percussion. And when we say percussion and lead vocals, he’s not a man for sitting behind a drum kit while crooning. He’s up on his feet centre stage surrounded by a selection of drums that look straight out of Africa with incredible energy. The band’s energy is their thing actually. It’s the thing that stops you in your tracks and makes you end your conversation and take notice.
With Dave are Josh Terry and Tate Taylor on bass, Dan Gauden on electric guitar while Tom Callinswood plays guitar, cigar box and djembe – a West African drum. Dave had previously played with all of the band members in some form before they came together to form Arcadia Roots. Some of the band went to the same school but didn’t really know one another until music brought them together. It was while jamming with other musicians at the Cock and Magpie in Bewdley they met Dan whose style of playing is heavily influenced by U2’s The Edge.
GOT TO GROOVE
The band’s sound and style has been created by blending many genres including world, blues, soul, reggae, trance, rock and dance music. Some of the boy’s favourite bands and influences include Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, U2, Tinariwen (African desert rock) and Fleetwood Mac among others.
Vocalists they look up to are Otis Redding, Bob Marley, Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant. You can hear the African influence heavily – not surprising since Dave travels across the west coast of Africa playing a variety of percussion instruments and singing with local people. He says: “It’s had a major impact on my writing. It’s got to groove! The rhythmic backbone is very important.”
The next step would be part of a major tour with any of their musical heroes, but ultimately in terms of dream gigs, a huge crowd of fans singing their own songs back at them would be brilliant whether that’s at a festival or a packed stadium. A slot on Later with Jools Holland would please the band too and we can definitely see that happening.
The band’s ambitions are to see as much of the world as possible while making a living doing what they love i.e. writing, playing music and making audiences happy with their unique sound. Of the Midlands music scene, the band feel you have to keep it real to crack it.
They say they are proud to come from such a rich and successful heritage of musical artists from all over the West Midlands. “We seem to be a very ‘working-class’ music scene. Midlanders don’t tolerate pretentious musicians the way some other areas seem to,” says Dave. “You have to ‘keep it real’. There are gigs everywhere across the region and that can only be a good thing.”