Interview // Boy Azooga

Three hours before Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever were set to take the stage at SWG3 in Glasgow, I sat down with Davey Newington, the frontman and driving force of the gig’s support band: Boy Azooga. After a flurry of gigs and a TV appearance on Jools Holland, the band are impressing audiences all over the UK – even prior to the release of their debut album. With explosive guitar riffs and terrifically catchy choruses, it’s easy to see why the band are gaining so much traction. We discussed the origins of Davey’s musical career, the true meaning of the band’s name and what’s on the horizon for one of Cardiff’s fastest growing bands.

Which bands did you listen to when you were younger?

“When I was growing up I listened to a lot of The Beach Boys, something my parents played. In summer holidays we used to play The Beach Boys on a ‘end of summer’ tape in our red, beat-up VW Golf; that was some of my earliest musical memories. Queen is also a big one, the Beatles and Henry Mancini too.”

How long have you wanted to be in a band?

“I’ve been in bands since I was like thirteen, but I knew I wanted to be in a band from when I was about seven years old. My dad’s a musician, my mum as well, and he once brought home a VHS of ‘Queen: Greatest Flicks.’ I remember watching that from a really young age, thinking, “I wanna be in a band.” And it sounds really cheesy but I saw School of Rock when I was around thirteen, and I just sort of knew that I wanted to do it then! From that moment I lost concentration in school and dedicated everything to trying to be in a band”

Where does the name ‘Boy Azooga’ come from?

Do you know the band Man of Moon? Well, the lead singer Chris is my cousin. Our gran used to live in Scotland, and whenever I would come up to stay with him we used to watch ‘The Little Rascals.’ In that film they chant “Azooga zooga zooga,” and to this day we always say it to each other over text. I just liked the way it looked when it was written. So I had come up with Azooga, and I was gonna call it ‘Bo Azooga,’ after Bo Diddley, but my girlfriend told me not to call it Bo because of armpit B.O., “it’s not a very sexy word.” So I tried Boy instead. I typed Boy Azooga into Google and nothing came up. So I thought, “at least people will be able to find it.” I played drums in a band called Keys, amazing band, but they’re called Keys – you type that into google and then there’s fuckin’ thirty two pages of Yale or Chubb Locks or whatever. Band names are so fuckin’ difficult to come up with, I agonised over it for about three years. I just preferred having something personal, even if the name’s a bit daft at least I know it means something to me.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you before?

I’d say it’s basically pop music, but we’ve filtered through some psychedelia. It’s quite experimental and groovy – hopefully! Yeah, psychedelic pop-rock I guess.

What’s your favourite part of being in a band?

My favourite part is probably playing live. I absolutely love the studio as well, but playing live is just really exciting. I love being able to see people respond to it. It only quite recently became something where we got that immediate reaction off of people. Before it was just my mum, my girlfriend and her dog that I would play the tunes to!

What other upcoming bands have you been listening to recently?

There’s a band from Cardiff we did a split with called Buzzard, they’re fuckin’ amazing. My cousin’s band Man of Moon I’m a massive fan of. There’s this project in Cardiff called Darkhouse Family, and Dav, who plays drums in our band, played drums on that too. They’re like a sample-based hip hop collective. Also Zak White, Private World, Perfect Body and Sock.

What’s it been like supporting RBCF?

We’ve only done one gig with them so far, Nottingham on Friday, but it was class – can’t wait to play tonight in Glasgow. They’re such a fucking good band, and really nice guys as well. There’s no ego about them at all. I was introduced to them through their tune ‘Mainland’, cause I’d heard it on the radio, and when I heard we got this tour I was just buzzin’. It’s so cool they’re signed to SupPop as well, I’m a massive Nirvana fan.

Who would be your dream band to support?

Alive or dead?

Go on then, one of each.

I would’ve loved to have supported Beastie Boys back in the day, I think that would have been fucking amazing. And alive, maybe Ty Segall? I’ve probably seen him play about seven times, so next time I’d love to be watching him from the side of the stage! Oh, and King Gizzard.

I saw Hookworms did a remix of your track ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’, how did that come about?

So Dan, who manages us, is actually friends with MJ from Hookworms. When we were just putting stuff out at first, he asked us who we wanted to get to remix us, and I suggested “someone like Hookworms?” Dan was like “well, I know MJ.” I love what they did as well, it was really wicked.

Share your favourite tracks from your debut album, ‘1, 2, Kung Fu!’

There’s a track called ‘Breakfast Epiphany’. It’s a sad song, but I gave it a stupid name. It was the song I felt gave the album its shape. Before that I had a collection of songs and I didn’t know what to do, but after I wrote that one I was like, “okay yeah, I think it makes sense now.” Also a song called ‘Hangover Square’ which is about a book my dad gave me when I moved out. It’s one of the quickest songs I’ve ever written. I wrote it when I was 18 and I’m 26 now, so I’d say it’s the oldest song on the record. It’s quite a melancholy song.

What upcoming gigs have you got that you can tell our readers about?

We’re supporting Deerhunter and Unknown Mortal Orchestra in Manchester on Saturday 26th, which blows my mind because they’re two of my all time favourite bands. Doing Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh in June, and we’re coming back to Glasgow in October at King Tuts, which will be our first Scottish headline gig. We’re playing at Scala in London in October as well, that’s our biggest gig to date. All the information is on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

What’s next after the debut album?

I’ve pretty much finished writing the second record, and I’ve started recording it as well. I wanna try get into that cycle of just putting out records all the time, but maybe not quite as prolific as King Gizzard! So yeah, I’ll have to see how it goes; I’ve got enough for a second one but you never know if it’ll dry up. That’s the plan, just to keep doing it, keep gigging and putting records out – it’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do!

Boy Azooga’s ‘1, 2, Kung Fu’ was released on 8th June via Heavenly Recordings and is available to purchase now. The band are set to play a series of festival appearances this summer with a headline tour taking place this October. For more info visit Boy Azooga’s website.

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Lewis Ross

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