Interview: local ‘dirty Motown’ band CoffeePot Drive

South London Motown band CoffeePot Drive release their debut album ‘Edge of Town’ on 31 August, following a hit single ‘Hey Suzy’ which went to number one on the iTunes blues chart earlier this month. We spoke to guitarist Illy to find out more about them.

CoffeePot Drive with lead singer Michelle (centre) and Illy (right)
CoffeePot Drive with lead singer Nadine (centre) and Illy (right)

How long have you been a band and how did you form?

We’ve been CoffeePot Drive for a year and a half. The producer hooked up me up with the singer Nadine and we wrote the first song, ‘Fallback’, in about three and a half minutes. The next song ‘Deep Freeze’ was written in a similar manner.

We’re all about a concept of soul – where the music hits you and you feel it. We were only going to build a band where the members increase that feeling – it took a while, six months. The last two we added are the bassist and the drummer, Jules and Chris.

How would you describe your music?

It’s a strange blend of soul and blues influences with some rock stylings. What our fans have called us is ‘dirty Motown’ and ‘dirty soul’.

Congratulations on reaching the number one in the iTunes blues chart. Have you been doing more recording?

Thanks! Yes, the album is coming out on 31 August. After the band came together we recorded the debut album in 9 days – it just popped out! Now we’re out there, gigging and trying to do something good with it. We’ll start recording again in January.

Do you have some more live shows coming up?

Over the next two weeks, we’re doing lots of interviews and live sessions, then we have dates booked up until December – you can find them all on our website. We’re planning to get back into Hootananny at some point too!

You guys played the Hootananny in July. How was it?

It was great. There are real music lovers there, people who aren’t afraid to express themselves. We trust the feedback of a crowd like that. It sounds cheesy I know but they really are our kind of people. There are few music venues with crowds like that – you know they’ve been to a few festivals that summer, they’re discerning.

CoffeePot Drive
CoffeePot Drive

What’s the band’s Brixton connection?

We’ve all grown up around Brixton, Lewisham and Croydon. We’ve been so transient, you can only afford to live in one place for so long – lots of the band have moved out to Croydon.  Someone told us we look like we represent South London – I don’t know what that means. But I feel that that’s our identity.

What is it you like about being a band in Brixton?

Brixton’s got emotional capital – that’s the thing that will make you rich, that’s the thing that makes a place. Brixton still has the colour that the rest of London should have. People in Brixton dress how they want to dress, they’re artists in their daily lives.

You go to West London to play a gig and it’s just empty. You get the impression that people just turn up for a drink and in fact it might be too noisy so they won’t come next time. They don’t care about the band or promoter or whatever.

You’ve said you’re worried about the disappearance of music venues across London.

It’s not just the music venues – for each venue there was probably a microbrewery, studios, producers and associated services affected. I played one of my last gigs in London in a previous band at the Astoria back in 2008.

Coming back to build CoffeePot Drive more recently, I expected some of the places I know to have gone but not this many. Take Tottenham Court Road and Denmark Street for example, it’s ridiculous – I didn’t think you could make that place soulless, but the rising rents are going to crush it.

What are your plans now?

We want CoffeePot Drive fans to feel like the luckiest fans in the world; that they continue to be fed the inspiration that hopefully they feel like they’ve being fed already. It looks like we’re going to Toronto next year, then to New York after that, and a few European dates.