Thursday, November 10, 2011

THOMAS PRIDGEN "Jimi Hendrix, Fela Kuti… I’m also influenced by a lot of social issues and current affairs."


Thomas Pridgen / Viveca Hawkins Interview

Posted by Tim
Well, I was going to have an awesome surprise for you today in the form of an interview with Thomas Pridgen, former drummer for The Mars Volta and current drummer for (as well as founder of) the Memorials.
However, there’s been a bit of a change. In a complete stroke of luck, I was also granted the privilege of interviewing Memorials’ lead singer Viveca Hawkins!
Below is a transcript of that interview.
Rudimental Funk: Let me start by establishing what you play. Thomas, I think we all know what you play. You’re an amazing drummer. But Viveca, what about you? Do you play anything?
Viveca Hawkins: I don’t really play any instruments, but I can get by on piano, and I like to mess around on guitar. Voice is my principal instrument.
RF: How long have you been singing?
VH: I have been singing and writing songs since I was three years old.
RF: Thomas, what about you? How long have you been drumming?
Thomas Pridgen: I’ve played drums for 23 years, I believe.
RF: And you’re both part of the Memorials. Are you with a label?
VH: We have our own label called Bloodthirsty Unicorn Records.
RF: Your own label? Wow, that’s awesome. Okay, so on to the good stuff now. Who were your influences growing up?
TP: Tons of drummers! Dennis Chambers, Tony Williams, Michael Bland, Michael Jordan, Buddy Rich…
VH: I grew up listening to a range of artists in mostly gospel, like Bebe and Cece Winans, and jazz, like Betty Carter. When I was a little girl, my mom and I would even make up our own opera while baking cookies for Christmas. She wanted to guard my ears back then. I got into a lot of R&B and soul as a teenager, then I had a dash of rock in there like No Doubt, Greenday and Foo Fighters. I always had eclectic taste.
TP: I was also influenced by the thought of playing music all my life. It always seemed so fun!
RF: And who are your influences now?
VH: These days, I am heavily influenced by Thomas. He really insisted on me doing my own thing. When I asked him what I should listen to, he gave me a bunch of names; some I’d heard of, like Jimi Hendrix, Betty Davis, and Lamb of God, and some new ones like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Noisettes, and TV on the Radio. I checked everything out, but when it came down to it, I relied more on what was in my heart because he saw something more in me – more than I ever saw in myself. I trust his judgment.
TP: Jimi Hendrix, Fela Kuti… I’m also influenced by a lot of social issues and current affairs.
RF: I’ve had the opportunity to hear some of the Memorials’ music. It’s obvious you’ve got your finger on the pulse of this generation. So why did you decide to get into music?
TP: Because it’s fun. And I’m good at it. I’ve never had a day job. I’ve always made money playing music.
VH: I don’t think I had a choice about being a musician. I was born this way. I have been shining my light for so long, you would think it would burn out one day. But I take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’! I was born to shine.

RF: It seems like this debut album of yours crosses a lot of genres, sometimes even in the same song like “Day Dreamer.” In what genre would you say most of your music belongs?
TP: Thrash, Afro beat, Ghetto, Tech, R&B… I think our music is a total hybrid of these sounds.
VH: Yeah, the Memorials’ music is the most beautiful act of fusion. I can’t imagine how we won’t blow the f–k up! We could easily combust with this passionate mix of progressive rock and soul.
RF: I think people need to hear it for themselves. We have a lot of up-and-coming musicians that visit this site, what advice would you give someone just starting to play?
VH: If you have a gift, don’t be afraid ot use it. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s pointless to pursue your dreams.
TP: Don’t give up and always stay true to yourself. Honest is almost your best asset and especially when you’re inventing anything with art. It always comes down to taste and the ability to make things taste the way you want them.
RF: Great stuff. To finish us off here, what are your favorite songs? Like, what are the top five songs on your iPod?
VH: I love music, so it’s hard to pick favorites. The five most played songs on my iPod right now are: All 4 Love by Bilal, Love Song #1 by Me’Shelle Ndegeocello, Come Around by Collie Buddz, The Right Touch by DJ Funklor featuring myself, and Raw Life by The Foreign Exchange.
TP: Wow, that’s too hard. California Dreaming by Eddie Hazel. I love Lamb of God and the band Can and anything by Lee “Scratch” Perry or Fela Kuti.
RF: Great! Thanks for talking with us.
Find out more about the Memorials on their website at

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