Michael Sanders & One Tribe Nation
'One Tribe For One Musical Nation'
Taking a page from the book of early '70s super groups, One Tribe Nation is an eclectic mix of world-class musicians inspired by culture, diversity, and the concept of a single world community. Based in Los Angeles, the group was brought together by the vision of guitarist Michael Sanders. His father, the late Will Sanders, was a pianist/singer who played and sang with Cab Calloway, Mercer Ellington and Count Basie throughout the fifties and sixties.
Michael’s musical lineage is highly evident in the intricate yet melodic songs on Servants Of A Lesser God. There is no question to his guitar playing ability, but it doesn’t stop there. Take “One Trick Pony” – a high-energy track that combines melodic leads, soulful groove and explosive Latin rhythms. “Amigos Del Diablo” delves even further into the world community feel, highlighting Michael’s talents as a multicultural songwriter. For those seeking tribute to the '70s sound, look no further than “Esoterica” – a song that demonstrates Michael’s ability to bridge classic musical influences with his own signature sound.
Joining the Nation for this release are all-star greats like Luis Conte (Eric Clapton, Madonna, Santana), Andy Vargas of Santana, Jimmy Roberts (Rod Stewart, Rick Braun) and long time Rolling Stones backup singer Bernard Fowler, as well as touring members and session players for such artists as Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Ricky Martin, Frank Gambale, The Goo Goo Dolls and the Rembrants.
Chatting recently with Michael, and taking it from the top, I first wondered just when the thought for such an all-star cast of musicians to collaborate in such a manner for this CD first came to mind? "There really wasn’t a plan to hire a group of A list musicians and session players, it just happened very organically. I started writing and recording this record at my old 1 bedroom Hollywood apartment in late 2003. By early 2004 I had enough material to take to my producer Josh Eagan (Pink, Steve Lukather, Billy Sheehan) who also plays drums on the record. We were working out of the Steakhouse Studio in North Hollywood where there is always a very cool scene happening."
"There is always a long list of amazing talent going through that place and Josh knows most of them. We had Alex Gonzalez from Mana listen to our tracks and he hooked us up with Luis Conte (Santana). Josh knew Bernard Fowler ( Rolling Stones) and Jean Michele Byron (ToTo) from various other projects and I had become friends with Chuck Prada ( Black Eyed Peas) and laterJimmy Roberts (Allman Bros) and Andy Vargas (Santana). Over the course of a year we collaborated with all of these artists plus newcomer Rocklin Thompson who sings on the title track and Anantia Muscaria.
Before we knew it there were like 20 guys playing on the record and it sounded exponentially more interesting than I could have ever imagined."
Having now worked with all these respected musicians in such close quarters for this album, I'm wondering if you yourself learnt anything from this eclectic blend of talent? "Yeah, I learned a bunch. It was an incredible experience to say the least. I mean it seemed like every week we had someone new coming in to track with us and many of these cats were people that I was a fan of before any of this had begun. I was constanly amazed at the level of musicianship that I had encountered with everyone on the record and watching the way that these people worked definitly made me a much better musician."
Your album title 'Servants Of A Lesser God' is an interesting title, but does it truly originate from a more personal standpoint for you? "I guess it is about my perception of religion in general. It’s about questioning the concept of religion and the idea of discriminating against people that do not share ones personal faith or lack there of. Many people don’t explore faiths other than their own and I think it is fascinating to look at ancient cultures like the Mayans and the Egyptians and examine the ideas that they had about what they considered to be god. I think that most of today’s mainstream religions would consider many of their ideas quaint if not out right blasphemy. From an agnostic point of view I am asking why we still let these issues divide us instead of just accepting whatever belief people have and moving on."
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated Michael Sanders at his musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "It changes weekly, but I would have to say 'Esoterica.' It is a very personal song for me and it showcases many of the ideas and concepts that make this record unique."
Where did the name for the band One Tribe nation come from ... and what were some other not-used choices? "The name simply means human race. I am of a very mixed race. African American, Cherokee, Navajo, Scottish , Irish and probably a couple of other things I don’t even know about. So from my point of view the idea of division by race, class, nationality or whatever is not the natural order of things. The group is very eclectic in it’s membership and so is the music and I think the name is represents that. People can be so preoccupied with nationalism and their group identity as citizens of wherever, that it is easy to forget that all of these borders are a man made construct and they really only exist because we say they do. Again, I guess I am asking what if they didn’t. So my thing is always about rebelling by wanting to combine everything. There weren’t really any other choices for a name."
For fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
'One Trick Pony' - If you could trick a pony into doing anything for a day, what would you have it do ... and why?! "I would probably trick him into running for the governor of California because I know that he would be considered a viable candidate. He could run on a platform of restoring honesty and integrity the office and promise to say no to special interest groups and Big Carrot lobbyists. Thus ending the fusion of politics and bad eighties action movies in California forever, which would put and end to alpha male phrases like “I will terminate high taxes” and “don’t be an economic girly man” and so forth!"
'Underworld Circus' - If there was such a colorful environment down beneath the streets, what would you imagine would be their best selling point?! "Aside from the dank moisture, eternal darkness and the hot and cold running raw sewage, what more do you need?!"
How long did it take to get this project onto CD, from idea conception to final product ... and what was the biggest speed bump that you encountered? "The record took about a year and a half to put together but the concept has been swimming around in my head for years. The biggest hurdle was and always is money. We went over budget several times partially due to my obsessive nature but in the end the production quality is as good as any record that I own so it was well worth it."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "Without question it would have to be an afro-funk version of Culture Club’s 'I’ll Tumble For You'. A timeless classic and one of the finest pieces of music known to man."
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Yeah I really dig their whole vibe, black suit, white shirt, great posture, a class act, all the way."
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future. "Thank you, any time."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Mike's brand new CD, just answer this easy question: Michael Sanders' father, the late Will Sanders, was a pianist/singer who also played and sang with another ('pen-related'!!) band ... who were they?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before May 15th with your answer and the subject title 'MIKE SANDERS SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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