From the present raucous upstarts tearing holes in their larynx on a nightly basis in assorted Barflys to the very fact you’re probably reading this here magazine right now, it can probably at some stage be traced back to the mighty Rolling Stones.
But before you start getting too excited, the band leading Britain’s new Roots revival didn’t religiously intend to doth their hats to the greats. “It’s a dreadful name,” emits Negrita vocalist Felix Bechtolsheimer when Clash notices their familiar moniker. “It’s a song off the [Stones’] ‘Black And Blue’ album. I think it reflected the drunken racket we made, but unfortunately we could never agree on a new name, so we got stuck with it…”
The Guys At HMP Brixton Went Nuts. Holloway Women’s Prison Went Crazy As Well
Ill-advised prodding over said albatross will surely blight Negrita’s future, but this aside, the band are currently triumphing on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to their enduring perseverance, and also recuperating from a small glory-lap of this years SXSW. “SXSW was incredible,” reminisces Felix. “Five gigs in four days, radio sessions, TV interviews, queues around the block, pretty girls, cold beer… It just doesn’t get any better”.
Though with the success of playing nineteen gigs in the UK, two American tours and a stream of steady press quicker than you can say ‘Man overboard!’, Negrita suddenly lost themselves in a haze of on-the-road strains. “There was a real buzz in the air, but then the wheels started to come off,” continues the ever-suited Felix. “Our drummer and myself were really starting to get into the swing of it all, but the other two members were fed up, exhausted, and wanted to go home. We finished the tour, said our goodbyes and went back to the drawing board.”
Just like the creators of their namesake, Hey Negrita have had to face all manner of dilemmas and demons over the years. Yet unlike so many, have managed to overcome all inter-band turmoil and turn it into a focus that’s seen them composing a forthcoming LP of roughly dusted desert gems and admirably (also rather suitably, in true Cash style) touring prisons. “Having spent half my twenties battling with heroin addiction, I was asked to get involved with a charity called ‘RAPt’ that takes drug and alcohol rehabilitation into prisons. The gigs were insane. The guys at H.M.P. Brixton just went nuts. Holloway Women’s Prison and Woodhill Maximum Security were crazy as well. It can get bit scary, but on the whole, it’s a lot of fun”.
?Returning from their aforementioned American adventures did have its plus sides, though, as the band found themselves headed directly for the silverscreen as part of Alex Walker’s We Dreamed America documentary, essentially an A-Z of the current UK country and roots revival. “Alex had been filming us for the best part of five years. He had over four hundred hours of footage, which he wanted to turn into a documentary. But I felt that after everything that had happened (with the band split), I was too close to the chaos, so the only part I refused to get involved with was the Hey Negrita section.”
There Was A Buzz..Then The Wheels Started To Come Off
Never mind Felix, we’re sure after Hey Negrita’s seesawing adventures they will overcome anything. But just one thing, did you really fulfil all those Johnny Cash fantasies? “Not yet,” replies Felix, “but we’re sure working on it.”