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Tobias Ben Jacob is a singer-songwriter with the East Devon-based acoustic group, The Roots Union. He tells us about the band and invites us to listen to their track, Rough Diamonds.
Q: Tell us about the band.
A: The band is me, Phillip Henry, Michael Sykes and Hannah Martin.
Phil and I moved to Devon from Lancashire about five years ago to study music at Rolle Campus, which is now sadly closed. After graduating, Phil and I played as a duo and over the winter of 2007/8, while Phil was studying slide guitar in India, I decided to put a band together with the hope that Phil would rejoin when he returned.
Mike is a native of Exmouth and has always been very active on the local music scene. He was a natural choice - a talented and versatile drummer and also an enchanting singer and songwriter.
Tobias says the group has a rapport and energy
We began playing at folk clubs and bars and the band began to take shape from there. I feel we have struck up a very good rapport. We believe in one another and this energy, I think, comes across in our performance and recordings.
We are based mainly in Exeter. Over the years, we have built up a lot of friends and contacts in the area so it's increasingly easy for us to get shows in the area. We now travelling further afield to do gigs as well.
Q: What's the story behind the name of the band?
A: I thought up the name. It's a reflection of the fact that our sound is rooted in our musical heritage and whilst we are always exploring new sounds and defining our own identity, we have our roots in traditional music.
It also reflects that as a band, we come together with our own roots, biography and influences, and unite them.
We also wanted the band name to be simple, straightforward and memorable.
Q: Which song have you chosen to audition here?
A: It's called Rough Diamonds and it's the story of a young boy who wanted to be a singer when he grew up. It's an ode to those 'Rough Diamonds' we all know and love - those people who maybe are a bit rough round the edges and don't have a lot of tact and graces.
Or maybe are a bit hardened by life, work and the world we live in but underneath it all, we know they have hearts of gold. Maybe you know someone like that?
I think the song also sets out a bit about where we are coming from. It deals with working class roots, with being discontent with factories and offices and wanting more from life.
It even quotes (in slightly different wording) the great rallying call of the French Revolution - 'Liberty, Egality, Fraternity!'
Q: In your own words...go on, sell yourself!
Here's a quote from myspace: "Every once in a while, a band comes along who don't need to rely on a barrage of hyperbole to get your attention - their music speaks plainly and compellingly for itself. The Roots Union are such a band."
Listen to Rough Diamonds by The Roots Union by using the audio link on this page. And you can find out more about the band by visiting their myspace website which is also linked.
Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/content/articles/2008/11/05/roots_union_feature.shtml