The Roots Drummer Questlove Talks Soundclash and the Miniature Tigers

In terms of pitting two bands to face off against each other in a battle of the bands it seems like a pretty uneven match up between the well established funk hip-hop group The Roots and Brooklyn's Miniature Tigers.

Of course, both groups have their advantages and disadvantages. Miniature Tigers are the scrappy young up-and-comers who have youth on their side; not to mention a bit of a home field advantage since they used to be from here. But is that home field advantage and youth enough to overcome the experience of the crafty veterans like The Roots? A group that has been consistently putting out classic albums since the mid-90s and are now the house band for the Jimmy Fallon show.

I guess we will all find out tonight  as both groups will participate in the Red Bull Soundclash, which takes place this year at American Junkie in Old Town Scottsdale. One thing is pretty certain though, watching these two compete will be definitely be a lot of fun.

Up on the Sun recently caught up with The Roots drummer Questlove to for a quick interview to discuss this years Soundclash as well as their competition the Miniature Tigers.

Up On The Sun: Can you tell us a little bit about the Soundclash?

Questlove: Really our version of it is going to be a little different, normally they do take this battle of the bands approach but if we were to really go there I don't necessarily think that that many people want to kind of sort of participate so we kind of told them why don't we take the whole audience approval thing away and just leave it to the challenges. So basically what they do is take you out your comfort zone, and you have to learn two songs by your opposing team, you have to play your music in a random genre; so in other words the DJ, who I believe is Z-Trip, he'll pick out a genre of music and you have to do one of your songs in that way. So he might pick a country song or he might pick a jazz song or a samba song, next thing you know you're going to have to reinterpet your entire song. It's basically a flexing of the muscles of your musicianship.

UOTS: Being that you guys play with so many different artists on the Jimmy Fallon show, being out of your comfort zone isn't that unusual to you guys, right?

Questlove: It's funny, the only time we're out of our comfort zone is doing regular stuff. We're so ready for the 11th hour switcheroo that that's now become the normal. So basically if you present ragtime or blues or doo-wop or bluegrass I'm on it. If you present 2000 era neo-soul I'm gonna sound like an amateur.

UOTS: Now this isn't the first time you guys have participated in the Soundclash, correct?

Questlove: I think this is our third or our fourth one. We did it with Antibalas and Shiny Toy Guns.

UOTS: How did you guys get hooked up with Red Bull in the first place for the Soundclash?

Questlove: The first time we did it I believe was in early 2008. They're always thinking of new ways to do music workshops. I've done a lot of stuff over at Red Bull before - DJ workshops, producer workshops, it's just a part of the many feathers in their cap.

UOTS: Were you guys familiar with the Miniature Tigers before the Soundclash?

Questlove: Yeah, I've heard of Miniature Tigers before.

UOTS: How do they differ to some of the other bands you've worked with before like Antibalas or Shiny Toy Guns?

Questlove: They have a really ethereal way of translating music, actually, they have a very different approach to our "You Got Me" song that I never thought of in the fifteen years I've been playing it so I told those guys, "the second we are done with the Soundclash I'm gonna steal all of your arrangements for like all of our songs." Never once did I ever think to reinterpret it the way that they reinterpreted it.

UOTS: That beings said can we expect a collaboration between The Roots and the Miniature Tigers sometime in the future?

Questlove: I'm down for anything.

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Mike Escoto