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Interview: 1st Blood

1 August 06 interview: Jesse Keene
photos: Kevin Lake

This fresh and funky hip hop band have just been signed by Tricky and play LeftLion Presents at the Orange Tree on Saturday...

Choosing to dispense with a lengthy intro to this rather unique and productive side of Nottingham hip hop, we decided to let Pete 1st Blood, the man behind the band, elaborate on what they really encompass as far as Nottingham music is concerned… take it away blood!

1st Blood have been creating music from around 1997 and have grown from a few man operation and crew into a musical empire incorporating any and all elements of music within the hip hop context. The band came around due to the 1st Blood production crew coming up with songs that people were loving. A couple of years ago we sent LeftLion a demo CD and they asked us to do a live show for them after they heard our tracks. Not really having the cash to cut the songs to vinyl and not wanting to just spit over a backing CD, we decided to have a go at assembling our team of skilled writers into a live band. We went down well and have been rolling along ever since.”

Tell us about the members of the live band...
We’ve got a vast number of players. We have a big fam. At the moment we’ve got Emkah from Elegalz Cru on Synths, he is the badass. Then we got Ed Drum on the electric/acoustic kit and sampler, he’s brought a whole new exciting edge to the mix. We should still have Tom Dempsy on percussion hopefully, there are not many percussionists as good as him. Then there’s old incredible Danny, who has been doing well with the mighty Team Hughes Project. He’s a real polished player and person. Old Gravy Legg is the true playboy of the crew, the ladies love him. He deals in BMX, bass, booze and birds in that order.

On decks we have Rat Master Rattomattic he’s got that slobberdog style, tight as you like. All the McDonald Clan have helped out and added to the 1st Blood vibe, while not playing in the line-up at the moment. Then you got Tommy Gun, he brings noise from the beyond all up in your face. Urban Dee oversees with production skills, he’s straight up gangsta. Then on the vocal tip you’ve got four main rappers. Louis Cypher, Opticus Ryme, Piper Mic Sniper Memory Wiper and Joe Graziano. Each emcee has their own unique style that they bring to it. The only two singers we have performing are the aforementioned incredible Danny and our man from down south with the soulful mouth, Bahiyon Bailey. He is the best singer I have ever known personally, the shiz he has made with Kumarachi scares me it’s so good. Kumarachi is a producer/nutter/rockstar on the local scene, rumor is he sleeps in an oxygen tank and only sleeps when he can play no more.

What releases have you had out so far and how do you feel they were received?
1st Blood has had plenty of rare releases like Joe and Pete’s Life Advice selling 200 copies, the FBEP and Damnfiner EP. Then came Riddle Me This, which at twenty tracks deep was the first official album by us. Then we released Beats 4 The People, which was also twenty tracks and introduced Louis Cypher and Opticus Ryme to the family. Blood Cypher N Ryme was born. People really felt it was nice and grimey and Notts yet quintessentially 1st Blood. Opticus has his album Obsolete Format coming soon and so does Louis Cypher. Generally they were received well, but then if someone disagreed with them being ‘good’ I would verbally harass them to the point of collapse.

You’ve played Nottingham, but have also other venues further afield. How was that and what were a few of your favorite places?
My favourite gig we’ve done so far was when we played in London at the ITC urban music showcase. Pauline, a singer from Notts group Aristocrash sent a copy of a demo we had made to give away when we played at the Arboretum. I ended up giving them to Whycliffe to sell for a pound each so he could have a bit a cash to waste. It wasn’t that pro on the cover just a sticker and a CD, with ten tracks. Anyway we got selected out of 1000 bands to perform alongside other bands such as Skinny Sumo and went down there in a transit van with a pub bench in it getting wasted and eating chicken. It was banging! I can’t really remember the performance though. Recently I have enjoyed playing The Social and the Horn in Hand, and I’m looking forward to going to The Orange Tree again soon. Then I think we’ve got Sneinton Carnival, the Arboretum and maybe Drop In The Ocean.

We’ve heard that Tricky has recently signed you. How did that come about?
Yeah I'm signed to his label Brown Punk now. He phoned me from LA and said he had got his hands on my demo CD, which I had sent down to Emily Taylor, the Organiser of the ITC Urban Showcase. He said he loved it and wanted to give me an album deal. That was about three or maybe four months ago. He told me that he and Chris Blackwell, (the man who signed Bob Marley and ran Island Records until he sold it) were listening to our CD and loved it. Tricky’s all cool. I’ve got his back and he’s got ours!


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