Ugly Duckling: More bang for your buck

Ugly Duckling know how to rock the party. As frequent visitors to our shores they always manage to leave crowds all over the country impressed and wanting more. With their latest album in stores not and doing damage on stereos across the world, and more importantly with a tour scheduled over the forthcoming summer months, ITM jumped at the chance to pick the mind of group member Andy C.

Xpose: First things first, who is the ugliest of the Ugly Duckling crew?

Andy C: Rodney (Einstein) and I are neck and neck in the ugly department, he’s got a big nose and I have a scowling look.

Xpose: Now back to serious mode, briefly at least. What does Ugly Duckling circa 2006 sound like, versus ‘Taste The Secret’ era UD?

Andy C: This album was more straight to the point while ‘Taste The Secret’ was more experimental and theme orientated. This one is also a bit more up-tempo and macho.

Xpose: The latest album is called ‘Bang For The Buck’. According to your press release it’s a lot of up-tempo party jams, an area of the market you guys have made your own. Do you think to many crews think it isn’t “cool” to make a party track?

Andy C: We love to make songs that rock the party. A good party is where hip-hop started and that’s where we love to be.

Xpose: J-Zone told me it has never been cool in hip-hop to be funny, yet artists like himself and you guys maintain humour throughout your lyrics. Do you agree with the statement, and if so why do you think that is?

Andy C: I’m not worried about J-Zone’s opinions. There’s room for everything in any great art form. Hip-hop music and hip-hop culture shouldn’t place limits on the people involved. That’s why the music is so predictable today.

Xpose: What sort of production do you use on the album? I read you may have gone a little “horn crazy”, not that I think that is a bad thing…

Andy C: Horns are the best. There’s nothing that conveys beautiful emotion and raw power at the same time like brass. A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, Kool & The Gang, James Brown, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, etc!

Xpose: You take a shot at the mainstream in the single ‘Smack’. Do you feel the US scene is overly commercialised, and is that why you continue to tour countries like Australia where your technicality and style is appreciated?

Andy C: Ironically, hip-hop is commercially successful but is in grave trouble artistically. With that song we gave our opinion on the matter, as well as mixed in a little bragging.

Xpose: In the great tradition of collaborating with like minded crews, you guys worked with People Under The Stairs on the album. How did that all come about, and more importantly, what is the end result sounding like?

Andy C: We’ve known People Under The Stairs for a decade and we finally did an official song with them. We just wanted something that we liked and fans of both groups would think was cool. It’s got a cool back-beat that makes my neck do funny stuff.

Xpose: You have hit the road hard over your careers, luckily for us you always seem to comeback to Australia. What brings you back? Meat pies? Women?

Andy C: We love to come to Australia, who wouldn’t. But we will go anywhere they’ll have us. We’ll do a show in Baghdad if someone will have us. We can stay in one of those palaces…

Xpose: How do you find Australian audiences compared to those elsewhere in the world?

Andy C: Aussies are really nice people. It’s easy to think you’re a successful and a special band when you’re down under, but you soon realise that everyone is just super cool. I thought I was Elvis the first time I visited, but that’s just because I was putting on weight.

Xpose: Anything you miss when you are 20 long ass plane hours away from Long Beach?

Andy C: When I’m not at home I really miss Mexican food.

Xpose: You guys formed in 93, around the time Snoop was putting Long Beach on the worldwide map. Was the Snoop phenomenon a help or hindrance to you guys?

Andy C: I have no idea how Snoop’s success has impacted our career, we try not to worry about what other people or other bands do. We want to focus on what we think is good and give it to the listening public. I do notice that people are familiar with Long Beach and I’m sure that’s a credit to his popularity.

Xpose: Who releasing music today do you look to for inspiration, or who do you hear songs from and think, “damn I gotta make something as hot as that”!

Andy C: I go back to the classics for inspiration. From EPMD to De La Soul, from the Meters to the JBs, from The Beatles to Led Zepplin, from Count Basie to Ramsey Lewis. Good music is good music is good music.

Xpose: Finally, you have been together for 13 or so years, you are about to hit the road again, tell us what is the craziest thing ever to happen at an Ugly Duckling show?

Andy C: We just did a show in Estonia and everybody at the club knew our songs. It was, at leat to me, unbelievable. But from my perspective, I think it’s crazy that anyone would show up to see us. I’m not being modest, I’m honestly still shocked.

Catch Ugly Duckling live when they tour Australia this summer:

Dec 29 – Republic Bar, Hobart

Dec 31 – Pyramid Rock Festival, Phillip Island

Jan 1 – Field Day, Sydney

Jan 1 – BBQ Breaks, Brisbane

Jan 3 – Great Northern, Byron Bay

Jan 5 – Electric Light Hotel, Adelaide

Jan 6 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth

Jan 10 – Becks Festival Bar, Sydney