Considering the success of albums one and two, the old adage “third time lucky” doesn’t really apply to the release of Smoove and Turrell’s latest long player.
Nevertheless, the Gateshead-based seven-piece, led by its namesakes singer John Turrell and DJ Smoove, are keeping their fingers crossed (when they’re not being clicked of course) that they can continue their soulful assault on the radio waves and festival circuit, following this weekend’s gig launch of Broken Toys at Sage Gateshead.
During a speaker-phone chat with the pair, who are holed up at Smoove’s Gateshead studio, it transpires that Saturday night’s gig in the venue’s Hall Two, is kind of like the filling in a Russian sandwich.
“We played a gig in Moscow a couple of weeks ago and we’re going back out after the launch,” says Smoove. “We’d been out a few times before doing DJ sets and PA sound system sets, but this time the whole band went, which is more expensive of course, but much better.”
“We were playing at a club called The 16 Tons which is one of Moscow’s top places for live music,” adds John. “We did some radio and stuff while we were there as well. I think we went out to 10 million people or something.”
So their Russian fans – together with the loyal listeners of Craig Charles’ Funk and Soul Show on BBC Radio 6 Music – have been the first to hear the band’s first crop of new material for three years.
“Yeah, we gave Craig Charles an exclusive because he’s been so good to us,” says John.
“The response has been really good,” say Smoove. “Lots of people on Twitter and stuff seem eager to get their hands on it [the album].
“It’s been three years since the last one, so the fans who have been with us since the beginning can’t wait to hear it.” For anyone who hasn’t been with them since then, let me offer a quick recap.
It all started with the release of their first album, Antique Soul in 2009. Singles I Can’t Give You Up, You Don’t Know and Beggarman gained the lads two records of the week on Radio 2 (courtesy of Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie) and their first ever-national playlist on 6Music. (Incidentally, the original 7” of the northern soul banger I Can’t Give You Up still changes hands for up to £160 on the net. )
Festival slots at Glastonbury and the Big Chill followed before the second album, Eccentric Audio, was released to a similar welcome, with singles Hard Work and Gabriel serving as the playlist big hitters.
Since then, Smoove and Turrell tracks have been picked up for a diverse convoy of vehicles such as feature films, video games, Match of the Day, Strictly Come Dancing and Coronation Street.
“Yeah, as far as crossover goes, the first two albums went brilliantly,” says John.
“I suppose we want to stand on the shoulders of all that exposure with this album,” adds Smoove, whose foray into fatherhood prompted the extended break between albums.
“We’re pretty much all dads,” says John, himself a father to three girls. “So we wanted to have a bit of family time. We’ve both got understanding wives,” he laughs.
“We’ve had our break and had a great time writing and recording the album and we’re just looking forward to taking it out and playing it to as many people as we can.”
Smoove and Turrell launch Broken Toys in Hall Two, Sage Gateshead, on Saturday. Call 0191 443 4661 or visit www.sagegateshead.com . The first single, the double A-sided Lay It On Me/I Just Want More will be out next month and the band have just confirmed their performance at Kendal Calling on July 31. For more dates, watch www.smooveandturrell.com