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Ever had one of break ups which felt awful at the time,but in retrospect was the BeSt thing that ever happened to you?

When 80’s American rockers Dinosaur Junior told bassist Lou Barlow they were splitting up,

only to reform hours later without him in the line up it must have felt pretty shit.

Some musicians would have given up, but, luckily for low-fi,bassist Lou Barlow threw himself into then side-project Sebadoh.

Free from the creative castration inflicted by Junior’s singer J Mascis, Barlow was free to sing, SoNgWrItE and shine. Sebadoh was embraced in the mid-nineties by an army of teen slackers who identified with the band’s pared down angst.

The reissue of Sebadoh’s acclaimed fifth album Bakesale, originally released in 1994 signals a European tour. Relaxed tracks amble along and melt into each other with vocal twangs akin to Molko and Cobain in parts.

Sebadoh manage to blend stoned delusion and touching romance and make it work.

Highlights are ‘Skull’ which incorporates dragons and one night stands, and half-spoken ‘Shit Soup’ which stirs together the words bespectacled, gazebo and CrAzYand somehow makes sense.

Not bad for a guy who got dumped by his band.

©Ianthe Butt 2011

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Not many bands turn up to tour in a country they’ve never been to before and then get shot.

Shot for Vogue magazine, that is.

Molotov Jukebox, a relatively unknown six-piece band from London who blend funk, ska, flamenco and samba, however, did just that.

On a rainy March morning I was expecting to just meet Natalia Tena (lead singer and accordion player),whose voice purrs on their tracks and Sam Apley (violin/vocals).  Today, it turns out, it’s three Molotov Jukeboxers for the price of two.

“We picked up our bassist round the corner” grins Tena and motions at Tom Wilson as they bound into Camino bar in King’s Cross.

With Molotov Jukebox you have to expect the unexpected.

Described by The Evening Standard as “the real stars of 2011” the band members interrupt each other in between swearing and sipping Rioja.

Inspired by sex and death, contenders for the title of the EP they’ve been recording are “hookers in a morgue” (Tena), “corpses and caskets” (Wilson) and “bullet holes and beauty queens” (Apley).

Despite the macabre names, their sound is uplifting and sultry rather than dark. Apley assures me the EP “will be full of ZiNgErS and tasty toe tappers.” Apley and Tena speak loudly with Wilson dropping in quiet one-liners.

Tena and Apley met whilst in another band three years ago and decided to make their own music. Friends and acquaintances including absent Adam Burke (guitar) Max Burnett-Wain (drums) and Angus Moncrieff (trumpet) joined and the current line up was formed.

After last summer was spent on the festival circuit playing everywhere from Glastonbury to Green Man, and their debut single Laid to Rest released in November 2010,it was time to go global.

Tena,whose lyrics flit seductivelybetween Spanish and English was dressed in pyjamas and wearing antlers when they flew to Brazil on Christmas Day. With just their instruments and a couple of gigs booked they arrived in Salvador. A whirlwind month of last-minute gigs in bars playing to hordes of Brazilians all dancing to Molotov’s GypStep beats followed.

Their unique sound is difficult to pigeonhole, part Latin funk part London hip that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Somewhere along the line the GypStep genre was coined. “If everyone loves it then it was definitely my idea. If not then some newspaper wrote it” says Apley. Tena, whose musical style has been strongly influenced by her Spanish parents, describes it as “its own animal with people’s egos and chaos and musical influences all mixed in.”

Whatever GypStep is, the band’s self-proclaimed “necessarily loud” tunes have been going down a storm.

When I saw the band at Camden’s Proud Galleries Tena strode around stage barefoot squeezing her accordion with gusto

while the band jumped around like rhythmical bouncy balls. A carnival vibe passed through the crowd with feet moving, hips salsa-ing and hands clapping.

Whether Camden or Copacabana audiences become infected with the band’s haphazard energy.

“In Brazil the crowds were mental. They shout, they dance, they sweat. A lot. Music is really a part of their life that they embrace on a different level.” says Tena, between cigarette drags.

One of their favourite gigs was in a small town Itacaré, they asked an unimpressed barman if they could play and he told them to return at six o’clock. They hit the stage at midnight.

Hundreds of people flooded in from the streets to dance: “You couldn’t even see how far the people stretched, they were so close they were practically holding our microphones” says Apley.

Their reputation began to precede them and people stopped their cars for a chat or accosted them on the beach. “One man travelled for ten hours to see us, another night a millionaire convinced us to play a private party. At his hotel. Which he owned” says Tena.

“And have you heard, we’re going to be featured in Brazilian Vogue? Just because someone happened to be at one of our shows and liked it? Amazing.”

Tena, also an actress best known for her role as shapeshifter Tonks in the Harry Potter series, talks excitedly about the future. They played at the afterparty of the final film premiere this summer.  After this appearance at the climax of such a worldwide phenomenon they are sure to be catapulted into the limelight (here you can see a clip of their Harry Potter performance and reportedly Emma Watson bopping along).

I’m not sure what JK Rowling would have to say about the sexual innuendo, swearing and general randomness that is Molotov Jukebox, but then again she’d probably have been too busy dancing to care.

 World domination? Not quite yet.

But with fashion magazines beating down the door, feet stamping across the globe clamouring for more Moltov madness, ‘in Vogue’..? Very.

Molotov Jukebox’s EP,  Double Dare  is out now. Click here to buy. Visit the website here or follow @Molotov_Jukebox on Twitter

©Ianthe Butt 2011 Brazilian Vogue  photos shot by Drew Cox, used with permission of Molotov Jukebox.

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