Hackney band Rudimental speak about the release of debut album Home
- Credit: Archant
The drum-and-bass quartet has already topped UK music charts with single Waiting All Night.
When civil rights activist Jesse Jackson walked onto the stage of Los Angeles’ Wattstax Music Festival in 1972, little was he to know how far snippets of his landmark speech would reverberate around the Western world.
“On this programme” he said, “you will hear gospel and rhythm and blues and jazz. All these are just labels – music is music.”
Twenty years ago, the words would become immortalised in Primal Scream’s Come Together, and 20 years later, you can’t help but feel their ethos continue to ring true in the sounds of bands like Hackney’s Rudimental.
“Growing up here was the best education I could have, there was so much diversity, so many cultures” says Leon Rolle, better known as DJ Locksmith, raised in Glenarm Road, Lower Clapton.
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“On my street, we had Jamaicans playing reggae, an Irish family playing folk and me in my house playing hardcore grime.
“In our group, we have Piers who loves Marvin Gaye, me listening to old school jungle, Kes and Amir with R&B – there’s a lot of influences coming together.”
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Rudimental have achieved massive mainstream success in the past year with number one sensation Feel the Love and new chart-topper Waiting all Night, but, while their recent explosion might suggest Rudimental came out of nowhere, Rolle points out it is the result of over a decade’s worth of work.
The band – also made up of Piers Aggett and Kesi Dryden, from Hackney – grew up together, with the Hackney trio meeting Amir Amor, of Camden, later forming Rudimental.
“Hackney has gone through a transformation recently, but when I grew up it was seen in a dark light. I was lucky in that my mum bought me my first pair of decks when I was 13.
“There were people in the same position who didn’t have music or whatever and got into crime: you can go down a right or wrong path.”
Rolle’s own story reveals a passion for helping others to find the right path.
The name DJ Locksmith originates from a brief stint at Rushmore Primary School in Elderfield Road, where he “borrowed” the caretaker’s master keys and rented out rooms to students.
Later, he and his band-mates found they were opening their own doors for free.
“Kesi and myself worked in schools as behaviour mentors a few years ago.
“Music proved the way to overcome a lot of barriers so we started youth schemes where you’d see 20 grime MCs coming to our houses.
“Maybe in a few albums’ time when we have more freedom, we’ll be able to make a real difference.”
Indeed, Rudimental’s schedule these days hardly leaves space for breath. With the upcoming release of debut album Home and a UK tour to accompany it, their success has seen them working around the clock.
Not that anyone in the band is complaining.
“The best thing is that we can do this full time now, nothing much has changed otherwise,” says Rolle.
“We still take the bus, I cycle to the studio. Like any job it can be hard at times, but we always look at what we’ve got and appreciate it.”
It is a humble approach and one that suggests the band is not likely to be seduced by fame in their continued rise.
Yet that’s not to say they don’t know their own worth. When they first heard Kesi play a demo of Feel the Love, Rolle notes they practically smashed up the studio, stripping off and waving around their clothes in excitement.
The same assuredness is apparent when he talks of Home’s potential impact.
“Have you ever been to a festival when you’ve lost all your friends? You’re walking around and come across a tent playing music you love.
“Suddenly it feels like home – the guys are your neighbours, the grass they’re pitched on is your garden.
“That’s the message of this album, that it can be your home. We want to make something that gets you motivated enough to get out of bed on that dreaded Sunday morning.”
Rolle, however, is in no rush to forget his real home.
“The label keep telling me to get rid of my name, to embrace DJ Locksmith. But I like Leon Rolle.
“It allows me to keep hold of where I came from and where I still remain.”
n Rudimental’s debut album Home was released on Monday.