With Transglobal Underground coming to Copenhagen...

by: Timothy Anderson (timothyanderson2005@gmail.com)

Upon discovering that Transglobal Underground, one of the (many, many) favourite bands of The Copenhagen Report, was coming to Copenhagen for a show on Nov. 13, we got in touch with
Tim Whelan, the band's leader, keyboard and guitar player, to find out in advance of the show about what they've been up to lately. But if you've never heard Transglobal Underground, it's a chance to check out their full-throttle live performance, which never disappoints...

It's great to see the band showing up in Denmark (and Sweden) for a few shows. You could say the shows from the current tour have been pretty scattered around - how does the band decide where to tour these days?

Most of the time we've been playing where the album has been released.....and it hasn't been released in Scandinavia so we haven't played there for 2 years up till the current invitation to play with Valravn.

TGU has been persistent over the years - a good things for fans of the band. How has the focus of the bank changed over the years, and how would you describe it at present?

We've tended to move between the more dance side of what we do....DJing, soundsytems etc, studio production work, and the live band. At the moment we're concentrating on the live band, up till the end of this year at least. There's been a big revival of small festivals in the UK, which has been important for us. We also have a DVD out with interviews and a lot of live footage, which is something people have been asking for for a while. It's hard to explain what we're all about without seeing it happen live in front of your eyes.

The line-up of TGU is always evolving, giving each album it's own personality, with different influences. Tell us about the current line-up and its influence on the sound of the band - both on-stage and on the current album?

The line-up coming to Denmark is Tuup on vocals and percussion......singer, MC, poet, storyteller and around TGU since the early days; Krupa on vocals, who's worked with One Giant Leap, Sista India and made her recorded debut with TGU on 'Moonshout'; Sheema Mukherjee on sitar and bass.....the best British born sitarist going and well known in her own right in the UK; Hamid ManTu on drums who also does much of the programming work; Rav on dhol and tabla who we kidnap from his normal weekend work on the club and bhangra scene from time to time; and myself on machines and guitar.

There's 3 or 4 others involved in the current touring group from time to time, but in general we try to stick to a six piece band

Personally one of my favourite tracks from 'Moonshout' is 'Spice Garden' just because it has so much emotion and it's so different from pretty much anything else I can think of from the back catalogue (of course, finding 2 similar TGU songs isn't exactly easy...). How did that song come to be?

A few years back we worked with the legendary vocalist Yanka Rupkina and the Trio Bulgarka in Sofia. 2 songs we recorded with them came out on our previous album 'Impossible Broadcasting' but Yanka also sang a solo piece over a very sparse backing we'd recorded. It took us a couple of years to find the right atmosphere for it; after that the instrumentation was recorded very quickly.

Can you pick a couple of favourites songs from the current album? And how about all-time favourites?

Well everyone in the groups got their own favourites and they change at different times! Right now mine would be 'Mera Jhumka' and 'Mag ak Ndaw'

How did the Alex Kasiek/Tim Whelan alter ego (among others, I suppose) come to exist?

Since in the early days of TGU there was no line-up, a number of names were invented and different people used different names at different times. Alex Kasiek turned up so often in these days that he turned into a real person and now lives in retirement in the Bohemian countryside, with several years supply of beer and sausage and a large unfriendly dog.

Any future plans beyond the current album and gigs?

We have some great remixes of 'Dancehall Operator' coming out in January on vinyl and mp3.

To close the interview: I was recently asked a question about Copenhagen as a city that I'll rephrase and re-direct to you in a different form: If TGU was a person, how would you describe them?

A big friendly giant.

Thanks to Tim Whelan for taking the time to answer our questions. Transglobal Underground play Kulturhus in Islands Brygge on Sunday, Nov. 13. Tickets 140 kr+service charges at www.billetnet.dk.

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