Delivering the sound of New York
The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Two New York DJ’s, Sean Marquand and Daniel Collás, had a vision - to create a group who could soak up the sound of their city. The result? The Phenomenal Handclap Band - a bitchin’ brew to funk with your head.

The band’s musical cauldron is a dizzying array of tastes (various members cite Brazilian pop, thrash metal, indie rock and Boney M as favourites, while there are four DJs within their midst). “If you put in all the spheres of music that we are into, they would overlap in a certain space and make sense. If we threw it all into the pot, it would blow your mind,” Marquand says. “What we’re doing is very rooted in New York culture and the emerging music scene and the crossover between disco and rock. I think people in New York inherently ‘get it’. In the UK, I don’t think they ‘get it’ the same way, but what they’re getting out of it is really great.”

Their eponymous debut album is a delight; whacked-out space-funk rubbing shoulders with gospel-rock and ’70s disco. Many of the band’s Big Apple buddies (including Lady Tigre and Jaleel Bunton) were roped in before Marquand and Collás settled on the current line-up. Keyboard/vocalist Collás explains, “There was really five of us going in to make the record, but we had all these people coming by the studio and lending their talents. When we had the finished product, we thought ‘wow!’ Eventually, eight people was the number it was whittled down to.”

The eight-piece are already a formidable live experience: songs bulge in all the right places. Guitarist Quinn Luke agrees, “When we go back and listen to the record, it sounds a lot more mellow than the way that we play it live. I think that’s just a product of the energy of us being together.” “We wanted to make it more of an experience for us and the audience,” adds Collás.

A recent UK tour has seen them connect with old fans, new admirers and even the odd ghost. “We had a band séance in Glasgow and made a connection with a woman,” Collás explains. “We were calling her Tophia but we realised the next day that we might have got the ‘T’ and the ‘S’ mixed up. She told us she was a good spirit and we had no reason to doubt her. She was too polite to correct us on the misspelling.”

Words By John Freeman

Where: New York
What: Cosmic funk rock
Unique Fact: Singer Joan Tick used to be in a punk band with LoveLikeFire’s Ann Yu.
Get 3 songs: ‘15 To 20’, ‘All Of The Above’, ‘Tears’


Big Chill Festival 2010

The Phenomenal Handclap Band are performing at this year's Big Chill festival. Join Clash on the road to the Big Chill Festival with news, interviews and features. Visit ClashMusic's Big Chill hub for all the latest news on the festival HERE.

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