Wellington band The Black Seeds have had a turn over in their line-up in the last couple of years - and what better way to test out the new players than by taking them on tour. Invited by the Victoria Ska Fest to play four shows in British Columbia, Canada in June, we join Barnaby Weir and the rest of the Black Seeds as they follow the food-trail from show to show.
"A lot of people say 'oh, you must have had a nice holiday'" laments Barnaby Weir, lead singer and guitarist for The Black Seeds. "Yes, we do some really cool stuff" he concedes. "But there's a lot of work that goes into a tour. Basically you have to be prepared to get about three hours sleep a night, and talk to a zillion people, and travel in uncomfortable spots all day, all night." Co-founder of the band, Daniel Wheetman wonders "are we getting too old to do this?"
After eighteen years, Weir and his band are a well-oiled machine. They don't slack off - a day not playing a show means a loss of around a thousand dollars, and this is a working band with bills to pay and families to feed. They need to be sure that a tour will spin a profit.
In the first half of 2016 The Black Seeds have traveled to Brazil and Canada, to play festivals and their side-shows. They have a clear fan base in Canada, though its been four years since they toured there last. Their shows are sell-outs, with close to 800 people at every gig. "The best thing for the band is to play live" says Wheetman. "Going to Brazil and doing that stint with a new line-up, and then doing that again here in Canada, is a test - do these other people work?"
With the departure of Mike Fabulous and Tim Jarray from The Black Seeds line-up, Ned Ngatae and Francis Harawira have stepped in - and they seem to be working just fine. The band is now back in New Zealand, and heading to the studio to record a new album. They're re-invigorated by the touring. With members scattered around the North Island, it's a chance to connect, rehearse, and road-test new songs.
You'll hear some new songs in the tour diary audio above, as well as some old favourites, recorded live in Vancouver, Canada.
Artist: The Black Seeds
Songs: Afrophone, Ariel, Fire, Turn It Around
Composer: The Black Seeds
Album: Recorded Live in Vancouver at The Rickshaw