At the end of last month I got an invite from one of my favorite Bristol based bands, Yes Sir Boss, to be part of making the video for their new single, Mrs #1 in a small pub in Easton. The new track started life as an EP when the Yes Sir Boss boys signed to Joss Stone’s label, Stone’d Records in May last year. After the release party for the EP I wrote an article saying the boys were going to make it big – and was pleased to see that now they are on the road to bigger things, they haven’t lost their original feel, and while the catchy hooks are as they ever were, very present, they still have a sense of fun that makes them playful and interesting.
Yes Sir Boss had previously recorded Mrs #1 for the album with no intention of it becoming a duet. The idea arose after they arranged to do a gig with Stone in Holland where Joss was to perform one of their songs, and where they agreed to sing a couple of hers. However, the impromptu performance sounded so good, they immediately decided to record it as a single. Another track ‘Not Guilty’ had a soft release last year, and trumpet player Tom First explained that Mrs #1 intended to be a more mainstream offering.
The band formed eight years ago when at University in Dartington, and bass payer Josh Stopford met Joss when they were kids in Devon. Tom explained that keeping the band together had been a struggle – music being such an unreliable career choice – and spoke about why they made the decision to collaborate with Joss for their first big single release.
The main reason, he told me, was his belief that the UK music industry has become increasingly cynical and susceptible to marketing.
‘Radio producers have become scared, and lack the courage to take a risk. No one takes a chance unless they know it will pay off’.
This was a large part of the band’s decision that after eight years producing music on their own, that they would collaborate with Miss Stone. Stone has been a fan of the band for some time, with her support for their music obvious in her decision to sign them to her label, investing her own money in their success.
He also spoke about the fickle nature of the British media, whose current bad reputation makes him wary. ‘The press in the UK can make or break you, or at least make things very difficult. Joss is incredibly popular in Europe and the US, but when she first started out, she was slated by the British papers. She was only about twenty and had been touring in the US and they trashed her for picking up a slight US accent. I think the British attitude can often be negative towards other people’s success, and the industry can be a very cynical place’.
It is this attitude to marketing and the way the industry works drove some of the thinking behind the new release.
‘The new single is meant to be fun. Like any other band, we need to get our name out there and get noticed. We wanted the video to be low key though – we still want to look and sound like us. I love the song, and it was really good fun to make, but it wasn’t intended as anything profound. It’s just fun to dance to!’
This is what I love best about the Bossers – they are unabashedly honest, and it shows in their music. They have just returned from a tour of Germany, and Tom says the tour has injected fresh energy into the band.
‘We played much longer sets on the Germany tour than we do in the UK, which gave us a whole different set up, and more room to be creative. It was brilliant playing where the real focus was just on the music, rather than the marketing. Britain is so saturated with bands – most people here wouldn’t go to a gig unless it was someone they had heard of. People are skint, and they don’t want to spend the cash unless they already know what they’re getting. In Germany the scene is different – the gigs were packed, but it wasn’t people who had heard of us, just people who came because they love music’.
‘We need to reach a wider audience – the live scene is amazing, but you need to get aired and that is what we are hoping to do with this single! Joss has been coming to our gigs for years, so it’s been really great working with her. It’s such an honour to record a track with such a fantastic singer who has performed with some of the greatest musicians of all time such as Solomon Burke, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger and many more’.
That’s the great thing about the Bossers. Despite working with such a big name, there is no hint of arrogance to this band, and there is an honest sense of humour and a self-deprecating nature to them. Tom was quick to admit that the single is their biggest opportunity yet and is very excited about the prospect, but is prepared that it may not mean fame and fortune.
‘If it doesn’t work out as planned that’s fine, we’ll just have to wait and see. Not sure what we’ll all do if we aren’t in the band anymore though, we’ve been doing it for so long now!’
The video was filmed at The Plough in Easton, Bristol – a typically low key venue on a Tuesday night. The extras, myself included, were treated to a free shot on the door, and the whole atmosphere of the shoot was just a bunch of fans having a few drinks and watching an intimate gig. There was no sense of enforced fun for the cameras. No one was told to stand or do anything in particular, and there was no proper rehersal Just a warm up set including a few songs by Yes Sir Boss, (including a wicked cover of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’) and some beautiful singing from Joss Stone, whose live vocals were truly striking. There was also a quick run through of how the video would be shot, mainly to prepare the crowd for front man Matt Sellors’ crowd surfing in a very small space, so he didn’t fall on his ass during the final take.
By the time the shoot began, everyone was suitably hyped up and in the kind of good mood you get when you go to see any great band, and the performance was great. Joss Stone and Matt Sellors goal collaboration sounded great, and despite her and Matt owning the stage for the performance the band and backing were flawless and full of energy as ever.
There’s a tongue in cheek mischief to Yes Sir Boss – a sense of being irritatilgy catchy but knowing it, combined with a genuine talent and passion for the music and the fun of it that make them something unique. It’s an honest sense of fun that is so lacking in main stream music. Accessible to all, but independently and intriguingly rough edged, combined with that typically Bristol sound – ska trumpets and a nod to gypsy – that shows their roots. The new single is full of that same style, offset by Joss’s soulful voice and makes this track one that is bound to attract attention on release.
I urge you to check the rest of the album out. Although the label, and the collaboration with Miss Stone is bound to earn this track publicity, the band has staying power. I’ve always thought so, and this first dip into the mainstream has not changed my mind. They are what they have always been. And that is bloody good fun.
The single is out on April 15th, and Yes Sir Boss will be playing at Thekla on April 27th.