Band Stand: Band creation not absent ... Never too Eight
With only one year under their belt, the promising all-male band, 8, whose music while staying true to the traditional sound of 1970s reggae combines an edgy, organic sound that is all their own. The young men have garnered the attention of industry professionals such as Wayne Marshall, Natel and Voicemail, but have significantly established themselves as players in the local reggae scene.
The band members told The Sunday Gleaner, "Our audience is increasing daily as a result of their (artiste) endorsements. It's an honour for established artistes and groups to recognise us, as we are just emerging. As their fans are exposed to us because of their mention, our YouTube subscriptions went from 137 to almost 700 in a short period. The same goes for our music video and social media pages."
The band's name is derived from the number of persons in the band. All under the age of 20: Adrian Bacchus, Andre Bacchus, George Campbell, Bradley Dodd, Jhada Dwyer, Moses Estick, Matthew Gillespie and Jordon McLeary, represent past and present students of Jamaica College.
"All of us passed through the school band at some point in our high school life, but we had never been together in a unit. We were in several different year groups, and left The College at different times," they revealed.
The newly formed 8 recently participated in an intense summer camp facilitated by their management team called IMPACTING 8 (Implementing Music, Personal, Artistic and Creative development Training In a New Generation). During the camp the band was educated by industry professionals like Hopeton Hibbert (bassist and son of the legendary Toots Hibbert), and Fab Five Band's lead vocalist/drummer, Asley 'Grub' Cooper- among others.
Cooper told The Sunday Gleaner that he was impressed with the musical skills of 8 even with their shortfalls when it came to the percussion.
"They are a very bright set of musicians that honed their skills and learnt very quickly. Within one or two sessions with me taking them through the paces to understand soca music each of the members caught on very well."
"We are constantly rehearsing, fine tuning and adding to our repertoire. Each member has a different schedule with a copious amount of responsibilities to deal with separate from our commitment to the band. But scheduling and logistics are left, for the most part, to our competent management team," they said.
Logistics can be challenging with a band of this size. However, Cooper says, the key for "8" to survive is to stick together.
"The problem with most bands is each time a person leaves or is changed, it also changes the sound. They have chemistry, a sound as well as a workable way of playing so to play that no one member outdo the others," Cooper explains.
He added that, "If a band cuts its sound around a particular person, for example, the guitar player, everything is done around the rhythm of the instrument and structured around him or her. That will result in that player being invited to tour and be a part of other bands, and maybe for want of broadening his or her horizons will end up leaving."
Their highly anticipated single, Schoolboy Anthem, was released on all digital platforms in October 2017 and in no time received 10,000 likes. Schoolboy Anthem relates to both school life and romance which automatically reaches a wide audience (as it relates to age). The aim of the single is to showcase Jamaican music in a fresh, fun-loving and c light image, with an international pop appeal.
The band recently received a Youth Empowerment Award for Outstanding Artistic Expression in Music and Musicianship last year, while several members received academic awards in the past year (Estick received a United Nations Diplomacy Award). In all their achievements the young men have, in some way or another, credited music as the backbone and way to focus.
"Music is a form of release and expression for us, like an extension of our personalities. Our traditional forms of music come naturally to us, and this is the foundation upon which we venture out into other genres," they explained.
8 has performed for the likes of international model and actress Lily Cole as well as her beau, Kwame Ferreira, and alongside Toots Hibbert, where they adopted the name 'The 8-tals' as well as Solid Gold, the concert commemorating Ernie Smith's 50th year in music, and many other private functions for local ministries and corporate companies.
Like most members of established bands, they concur, "It's very demanding - countless rehearsals for many hours, late nights, early mornings, and a lot of sleeping over at our management team's home, which we often call 'the band house'. It can be very overwhelming, but we all share the same vision, and we stay committed to the ultimate goal and give our very best."