So if you've ever visited the ice-cold city of Toronto, you'll know that when it comes to music and culture, it's one of the biggest melting pots North America has to offer. With relaxed immigration and a stronger currency than the U.S. (ahem), Toronto isn't a bad city in which to be a musician, create a genre or two, or at least home in on the next mashup trends those gringos to the south haven't figured out yet.
Listen to the sounds coming from the city's adopted trio, Bedouin Soundclash, and you can hear different ethnic neighborhoods popping up in each song. Take their latest gem, Street Gospels, for instance. The album can have a cockney, rub-a-dub, polyphonic, two-tone, hippie-esque, or indie-rock feel, depending upon whatever song you're listening to. That's not to say the trio is all over the place or hard-to-follow. To the contrary, its blend has more to do with peering into music's future and putting the pieces together than becoming the next "it" band. It doesn't hurt that Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains fame is their main producer — a relationship Bedouin Soundclash seems to appreciate immensely.
"The thing with Darryl is he never makes you do anything," says Eon Sinclair, the group's bassist. "He always, like, offers you a bunch of different suggestions and we either try it or we can argue that we shouldn't. He's the first producer that we worked with that let us do that."
The songs that emerge on Street Gospels, like "Walls Fall Down" and "Midnight Rocker," are at times reflective of Bad Brains' ability to put the right spaces between notes, giving each instrument its own voice. This is especially important for a trio — Bedouin Soundclash is comprised of just bass, drums, and guitar — as each instrument must resonate, contributing to a whole. Jenifer's touch has been crucial in terms of bringing that sort of sound forward.
No Bedouin Soundclash/Bad Brains joint tour is in the works yet (which, even as a mere possibility, is exciting), but the two groups have graced the same stage before.
"It was for Roger's Picnic 2007 in Toronto... The lineup was actually Bedouin, Bad Brains, and then the Roots," says Sinclair, who thinks Bad Brains should have headlined. "I think the promoters were a little scared of [artistically deranged lead singer] H.R. and if he'd go crazy up on stage. But it was a great show."
Now that Bedouin Soundclash is getting its first opportunity to headline a U.S. tour, group members seem to be making a conscious decision about their supporting acts.
"We've got Westbound Train with us... They're a traditional ska band, and Beat Union from England is like the early Clash," Sinclair says. "We tried to get bands where the audience will be able to hear what our influences are."