Interview – The Winachi Tribe

Whether it was the less the crystal clear audio, or the North West vernacular of both host and guest. If you had a little trouble following our Facebook Live interview with Liam Croker of The Winachi Tribe, we’ve sorted you out a subtitled version and written transcript.

Over to Liam who’s the back in sunny Warrington in the UK.

Oh Aye mate, cracking the flags over here.

As I’d expect.

All good mate, its all good. Thanks for doing the interview man.

Our pleasure. Thanks for talking to us. So for people that aren’t familiar with The Winachi Tribe, just go back and give us a bit of history about the band please Liam.

The Winachi has been around since 2015. We were initially called China White. Because of the drug association with the name, our manager said “Oi, fucking hell Lads. You’ve got to change your name. You cant be named after smack”. So we changed to The Winachi Tribe. Which is an anagram of China White. We went to play with Zack Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son in London. We went on stage as China White and came off as The Winachi Tribe. Since then it’s all gone from strength to strength.

How did the band start out? Because I heard that you and Anthony first met in a pub, after you got a good hiding?

I was on a Christmas Do in Blackburn. Burnley had just played Blackburn. There was a load of Burnley fans there and all hell just got let loose. Town Choir Bell got smashed over someone’s head. I ended up getting my fucking head caved in. I met Antony the day after.

We got talking in the pub and just got to know each other. We started jaming in his shed. We were both into Primal Scream, Funkadelic and Parliment. But we’d literally sit in the shed, smoke a bit of weed and jam on acoustic guitars. And thats how it started you know. It started in this shed and I said to Antony “Mate, we’ve got to get out of the fucking shed”

Were you both in bands before you got together? Or was that the start of you musical endeavors as such?

I was in a band called The Causeway as a bass player. An indie band. But I met Ant and we just started writing songs the two of us. I’d never been a singer or a rapper or anything like that. It was literally I had to be the singer because there was nobody else to do it. Thats how it happened. Learnt how to play the keys, program drum beats, all on the fly. We didnt know how to do it. But it just progressed.

And we’ve done alright. Know what I mean?

You seem to be doing ok! You said about comin together through a love of funk music and parliament especially. Who else around Warrington was listening to George Clinton. Was that a bit of a rairity?

Warrington has got the largest Parliment-Funkadelic fanbase in the world!! Nah, my Dad got me into music like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and stuff when I was a kid. When I got older, I started listening to The Mondays. So listening to The Happy Mondays and reading about Shaun Ryder’s influences, which was Sly and The Family Stone and Parliment. So I’d check them out. And then there was like Tricky, that got me into Massive Attack. Who were into Slick Rick and Erik B.

It’s like a domino effect.

Was the Northern Soul scene something that you were familiar with growing up?

I was familiar with it, but I wasn’t into it.

You go through Oasis, Paul Weller, Ian Brown, born in Warrington was a Scooter Boy originally. It had that funk and soul element that often gets overlooked in British musical history.

If you strip down the guitars from The Mondays and The Roses, they’re a funk band. Its those rhythms that get you. It could be Bootsy Collins, you know what I mean? There’s an underbelly of funk and soul in all of the Northern Bands, or North West bands.

Growing up in Warrington, I know it’s a place that you’re proud of. Do you feel ever resentful of being lumped into the Manchester bands? You’re in between those twin cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Or is it something that you don’t mind and you just go along with?

It’s something, when we started off, maybe to a certain degree. There’s this big thing of Liverpool and Mancheseter. But as I’ve got older, I’m really proud of being a Warrington band. You know what I mean? We’re quite privilidged that we’ve got both those cities next to us. We’ve the scouse influence, we’ve got the manc influence and maybe thats whats given us our unique sound. Yeah, yeah, definitely

Being from Warrington and having those big cities, are you rugby lads? Or football?

Good question, now personally, I was born in Liverpool, all my family are from Liverpool, so I was brought up around football. But my son has just signed for Saint Helens Rugby League. So its a bit of both. The north west is the county of Rock and Roll, its the centre of the world. You’ve got all the most influential bands and sports teams in the world I’d like to say.

I think we’re both a little biased if we’re talking about the northwest being the centre of the universe.

Well someone has got to be haven’t they?

Sticking with Manchester, you had Plant The Seed picked up for the the Hacienda documentary. I think that like that the music that Winachi Tribe are coming out with is what the original Hacienda scene could have evolved into. It seemed to like kind of lose its way a bit, you know, with the drugs. And is that a scene that your pretty much influenced by that early funk?

Yeah, yeah. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. The Happy Mondays for me, massive influence. And The Mondays influenced me in a way where I was more into the dance side of it. Guy Called Gerald, The Ruthless Rap Assasins. Manchester has got a lot to answer for hasn’t it? Manchester has adopted us as one of thier own. I’d never knock the place. I’m proud of our Manchester influences because its a place that sent us on our way.

One of the bands always associated with that Manchester scene, but were actually from Northwich in Cheshire were The Charlatans, it was supporting The Charlatans that we last saw you over the here in LA, but you have a lot of connections with California. Do you want to kind of take us through your California history as such?

Yeah, it started off Me and Antony going out there in 2013. Which was the back end of China White. We were working with Danny Sabre, Black Grape’s producer in Laurel Canyon. That’s where we met Harry The Dog

Your manager?

Our manager. Harry took us out on the piss one day. I think Danny wanted a day off from recording. Wanted to go play golf or something. So we went on the lash with Harry and took it from there. We went back to LA in 2016. We did the video with Tommy Flanagan Room With A Zoo up in Malibu. Honestly, It’s got to be one of the most surreal 48 hours of my life. Harry is a friend of Tommy and he played him the single of Room With A Zoo. He said how would you like to be in the video? He said “Aye, I’ll be in the video. As long as you can get the lads here.” We had a week free and within two or three days, I was riding round on a horse in Tommy Flanagan’s garden.

Was that your first time on a horse?

Well, he said “Who’s the little bastard thats gonna be riding ma’ throughbred?” I said it would be me and he asked if I’d ever been on a horse before. I told him no but I’d been on a donkey in Blackpool. It was fucking amazing man. But California and Los Angeles has been really good to us. Los Angeles is like our second home.

Because you’ve got plans to come out again pretty soon. Haven’t you?

Well, it got pretty big this year and the next step was getting the band out to do some shows. So we came out in March, did a tour. We were in Hollywood, San Francisco, all over the place. We came back in September and did The Charlatans gig. We’ve got plans, I don’t want to say too much. But we’re going to be back pretty soon.

While you were here the last time, I heard you put a new track down while you were here with John X.

Well when we were there in March we recorded with John X at Earth Star Creation Centre in Venice Beach. We did our next single which is Funky But Chic. We recorded that in March but we went back in September and did another three tracks with him. So we come back, we hope to finish the album with John in LA.

And if he’s listening, that fucking puppy that he’s got, it’s not a capybara, it’s a beaver.

Run that by me again?

John’s got this big fucking puppy which he says is a capybya or capybara or something. But its a fucking beaver mate. Its a big beaver. We’ve had many heated debates, about what the fuck this animal is. John, its a beaver.

But the thing with John is he’s the most relaxed producer I’ve ever worked with and he really really gets the best out of the band. It was an absolute pleasure to work with him. I’m really excited for people to hear what we’ve been doing with John.

Speaking of collaborations as well, I hear you’ve been working with Behringer.

Yeah, we went out there in March and did a live session at Music Tribe Studios in Chatsworth. Also did some interviews for thier artists profile series with The Winachi Tribe. Where me and Inder Goldfinger did the interview about our ex-proffesional wrestling career. We were a tag team called Singh and Ting. When we came back in September we did another live session and another interview. They put out a documentary called from LA Lachford, y’know in Warrington to LA California which was really good because there was loads of footage from Warrington and of us being there.

Behringer have been really fucking good to us. I just want to give a big shout out to Frank, Micheal, Music Tribe, Bugera Amps and Serenity or looking after us. Serenity kept us alive, or kept me alive a couple of day in LA

Speaking of being kept alive in LA. When you were playing with the charlatans, they had a reputation for being a, some of the wildest lads on the circuit. But now Burgess is totally sober. Has that taken the edge off their partying? Or are they still as wild as ever?

Nah, they weren’t partying. But they were relly nice lads. Mark Collins the guitarist has got to be the nicest guy in the music industry. He’s fucking top man and his Mrs was working out there as our PA. We were partying but we kept it away from them out of respect for sobriety.

No doubt you made up for both of them.

But I’ll tell you what, that Charlatans gig has got to be my personal most rewarding, magic experiences. As a musician you strive to do a show, and this sounds a bit cheesy. But you know when you’re on stage and you complely loose yourself. It was one of those, it was unbeliveacle. And that’s where, was it Jordan? Yeah that’s where Jordan watched us. It was fucking magic man. I rember saying at the end of the gig “Fuck Donald Trump!” and for a split second thought, what the fuck have I just said. But then a cheer went up.

I think you’re Always going to be okay in California saying, that. As a musician, one thing that characterizes Winachi is you’re willing to put the graft in, which is such a big element in the music business these days. You know, now bands have to be all encompassing and you have to be that own social media managers and business managers. And I’m sure those are the kind of experiences that make it all worthwhile.

The thing with us is that we’ve got no corporate backing. So everything we’ve got is through…well, you’ve got to be talented. Or help you God. But on top of that. you’ve got to hussle and you’ve got to graft. You’ve got to believe 110% in what you’re doing. Otherwise, its pointless. You make your own choices don’t you?

Coming up, have we got an album release in the pipeline?

I hope so.

Is that because you’ve still got writing to do?

We’ve got about three albums worth of material. There’s a single release in the pipeline. Its finding the right avenue to release the album on. We don’t just want to spunk it on iTunes. So ideally we want to get Funky But Chic out at the end of March. We’re headlining WAM Festival in our hometown of Warrington at the end of March. I’d like to launch Funky But Chic at that festival. Then come out to LA to promote it.

Who else is on at the WAM festival with you?

I don’t know…

Who cares?

Who gives a fuck? Y’know?

Just show up for the Winachi Tribe and who cares what else goes on?

The Krankies are the support band…

You’ve always brought different people in to the band depending on the sound. Are you settled on your core six members that you’ve got at the moment? Are you looking to expand it?

No. The Winachi Tribe is centred around six. But we’ve always had a collective mentality. I could quite happily write songs and let somebody else take it under the Winachi banner. Like Massive Attack, Tricky, Primal Scream where Denise Johnson can sing a song, but it’s still Primal Scream. Shara Nelson can sing Unfinished Sympathy, but its still Massive Attack. I love that. I find a privilege in other great vocalists singing my lyrics.

Well that’s, that’s good, not being overly precious of your own work. You’re willing to let other people have thier interpretation and spin on it.

Well its about the music. Sometimes you forget that. Its like you said, you’ve got your social media…You forget sometimes its about making music. We’ve worked with Kermit from Black Grape, Rowetta, some great artists. To hear them singing our songs or rebooting our tracks. What a real privilege.

It must be a privilege for you that so many legends, that have got so many great musical connections that go back a long way, are pretty much lining up to work with you, which must be a privlidge. But does that also create a sense of pressure?

No.

You just run with it?

Because we’re as good as them aren’t we? You know when people have thier photograph with someone? I hate asking. Because I’m at thier level. Do you know what I’m saying? I respect them as an artist and I hope they respect me as an artist. I don’t feel any pressure. I feel excited to be working with them. No pressure though.

Maybe in future, your equivalent of a Selfie is going to be laying a vocal track down.

You can have a photo when we land in LA. And by the way, anyone watching. Me, Dave and ……So just be aware of that.

So you got Warrington music festival coming up. What else in the near future then? Hopefully an album launch?

We’ve got the trip coming up to LA. We’ve just done a huge collaboration in China. Can’t say too much about that but its going to be revealed very, very soon. We’re doing a show in the summer at Warrington Parr Hall with The Sugar Hill Gang, Melle Mel, Scorpio and The Furious Five. A lot of Stuff in the next sort of month basically. But everything Winachi did this last year, we’re going to be doubling next year.

Looks like an exciting year for you coming up.

Also theres, again, I can’t say the names. But we’re going over to Italy to do a clothing collaboration. We’re going to be bringing out Winachi trainers, jackets, the full works. I’ll have a pair for you. What size shoe are you mate?

Um, a size 9. Which is embarrassing for a bloke who’s six foot two.

Big socks??

Put a box in for me when you come over.

I will do

Nice one Liam. Well thank you very much for coming to join us today and hopefully we’ll see you out here very soon, and see some releases coming over.

It’d be nice to get to get Grey Lantern out to do an exclusive on one of the shows.

Absolutely. We’ll be there with bells on.

Pants off..

Nice one Liam. Thanks a lot.

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