If we’re quite honest, there’s nothing lazy about Lazy Habits having listened to their latest single ‘Memory Banks’. Although it comes across as a very smooth and laid back track the musicianship is top notch and successfully blends hip hop, jazz and funk making the song perfect for summertime listening. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Lazy Habits MC James Collins…
Cat On The Wall: Lazy Habits, the live act, has grown over the past 5 years. Before we talk about the band, can you tell us how you first got into music? Why did you want to be an MC?
James Collins: I don’t know exactly how it happened but I always loved music, growing up on Michael Jackson and the usual suspects, my parents were never all that into music and although my Grandfather played the Organ and Trombone, sounds I still love now, I lived in a different country so it’s hard to say they were an influence. I guess I was just drawn to music before I even knew what I could do. I started playing brass then went on to drums before finding my own voice, but I was a singer a long time before I started rapping. I didn’t want to be an MC for a long time… I liked hip hop but couldn’t really identify with it all that much.
COTW: How did the band develop? Do you work with a set group of musicians and if so, who are they?
JC: For the first 6 months it was literally just me and a computer, after that I drafted in a few people I knew to come in and record some parts for me, Bass, Trumpet and Rhodes (three people I had worked with before and have been in the crew in one way or another ever since). Some people heard a couple of the demos I was working on and wanted me to do a showcase supporting Big Brovas at the Islington Academy so all of a sudden I had to get a whole crew, I borrowed heads from Imperial Leisure and Mama’s Gun and we did the show. The whole idea of Lazy Habits was a reaction to always being one of many people in a band, I felt I had stuff to say and didn’t want anyone to change the way I wanted to do it, to water it down so to speak.
We have been an 8-piece in its current format now for around two years, Lazy Habits and Skin Horse on the vocals, The Pulp Fiction-sounding Mr Silver and Mr Brown make up the Habits horn section, DJ Itchi (although saying DJ is an understatement for this guy), Steven James on bass and Ross and Steve Abunab make up the percussion section.
COTW: Your lyrics are very topical yet with an element of humour. What is your songwriting process? What inspires you lyrically?
JC: They can be, the humour stuff comes from Skin Horse, he’s the funny one. Don’t get wrong I like to joke, and I got the verses too, but I got too much to get off my chest first before you get to see me joking around, the balance works though. Lyrically everything inspires me, it’s almost annoying how many pens and pads I get through! It’s been the best and worst of times over the last couple of months. I almost have another album of material ready to already that even the rest of the band hasn’t heard yet.
COTW: ‘Memory Banks’ was released last month and I must say it’s a really great single! Can you tell us about the track? What’s it about?
JC: Thanks, glad you like it… it’s had a really positive response, the tour was great and everyone loves Baby Sol, ourselves included.
The song itself is about commitment, what it takes to really commit to something you want to do, the sacrifice it takes, the shit you put your friends and family through, the sleepless night, all that… but at the same time if you don’t commit fully to anything then I don’t think on the whole you will ever get to achieve it. And it ain’t just a music thing, I think that applies to anything you want in life! Believe it or not people still seem to think we are actually Lazy! Haha if only they knew!
COTW: There’s word that an album will be out by the summer… is this true? What can the fans expect?
JC: Summer? Maybe a bridge too far to be honest. We won’t leave you stranded though and that’s a promise, it’s sounding big at the mo… Couple of guests but not in a hip hop way really. I don’t want to say too much but it’s going to sound bigger than anything you heard from us in the past… Memory Banks is just the start! We are near the end now, so so close, but there is always one more thing we want to put on, we have our deadlines now so we shall see.
COTW: The band is well-known for its excellent live shows. What preparation goes into putting on a fantastic show? How do you know when you’ve had a good gig?
JC: The crowd will let us know if it was a good gig or not, we just work really hard at what we do, somewhere in there is a balance between hard work and having fun. I’m always thinking about new ways to get across to people, trying things that people won’t expect and building a set up from the ground on down, you won’t hear a “when I say Lazy you say Habits” put it that way… I think that kind of behaviour is played out and although we got the name I think that a lot of people are lazy with their live shows!
COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
JC: The plan is still world domination!! Or something like that anyway. Well I can tell you exclusively there will be one more single before the album comes out, we are just looking at what that will be and planning looking at how we are going to shoot the video – it’s going to be very different from any of the other videos so far. After that we are looking at a full UK tour for the album, putting together another little something in Ireland (We miss you) and after our first outing to Cardiff last month we will be back in Wales ASAP. A few other things in the oil pipe but I don’t want to say too much… who knows… don’t want to end up like BP though!!!!