Interview – Ivan Katz (Easy Star All Stars)
Posted on December 7, 2011 by 6foot9
Easy Star All Stars are about to bring down the house at Falls Festival, I had the pleasure of catching up with drummer Ivan Katz to talk about all things music.
After dialling 54 different numbers I managed to get Ivan on the line in Brooklyn, NY, where he was getting ready for thanksgiving. The Easy Star All Stars have a rich history that originated in 2003 with the release of their still-popular album Dub Side of The Moon, which, as Ivan puts it “is what put easy star all stars on the map.”
Easy Star Records however started in 1997, “I remember about 14 year ago my good friend Michael Goldwasser, who is the producer, the man behind the music, calls me up and says, ‘hey were going to start this record label’. Then it was 10 years ago when they said were going to take the whole of Dark Side Of The Moon and do Dub Side Of The Moon, and I was like wow! That’s different, let me hear it!”
Dub Side Of The Moon was a worldwide success, and since 2003 the band has covered two more iconic rock albums, Radioheads ‘OK Computer’ and The Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.
“We’ve got some really positive feedback from the bands. Radiohead – I know those guys love Radiodread – I know that the guys from Pink Floyd are quite into it too, but they’re not really allowed to say so.”
All albums are British which is purely a coincidence says Katz, ‘the only criteria is the album has to be a really renowned collection of songs, it just so happens Britain has quite a few amazing bands.” I’m given an inside scoop on a new cover-album to be released later in 2012, the subject of which is being kept under tight lips.
Ivan or ‘Ive-09’ as he’s known in music circles, is not solely a reggae artist. With some digging around I managed to discover that he has a rich history in the New York hip-hop scene, having worked with big names such as Wyclef, Mos-Def and J-live.
“I love hip-hop, New York City is the birth place of hip-hop, when I’m not playing reggae, I’m playing something in the hip hop/soul vein”
This year the band released their first full-length originals album, ‘First Light’. Katz co-wrote a number of the tracks, saying the album was a “result of the live band members spending so much time together”. I get the feeling this is an album Ivan is really passionate about, a sort of milestone for the Easy Star All Stars who for so long have been so well received for their cover albums, but can now confidently bang out their originals on stage to warm responses from fans.
“They’ve heard Radiodread or Dub Side Of The Moon, but then we throw in some originals and they’re like WOW, this is really great!”
Personally I can’t wait to catch these guys at Falls, the full live band will be something special and I can’t think of more suitable venue than the grassy knoll at Lorne. Before ending our chat I had to ask, Burgers or Burritos? After a moments laugh and an attempt to say both, Ive-09, drummer from Easy Star All Stars, went with burgers. See you at Falls.