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Pair deliver a big dose of rock n soul
Pair deliver a big dose of rock'n'soul

Arguably the country's sleekest funk group, the Bamboos have been making waves since the Melbourne outfit's 2001 self-funded seven-inch, comprising the tracks Eel Oil and Blackfoot.

Now, more than a decade later, their sound has grown into a mix of funk, soul, hip-hop and more.

The Bamboos turned heads across the nation last year with their single, I Got Burned, a collaboration with Tim Rogers, the ringleader of iconic rock group You Am I.

"I'd been aware of Tim (Rogers) for a long time," frontman Lance Ferguson says from Melbourne, "but it wasn't until a couple of years ago - at a Big Day Out tour - that I was finally able to meet him in person.

"We really hit it off and this was perfect timing because it was during the writing process for our newest album, Medicine Man. I had all of the songs pretty much ready but I felt there was a song that was missing something. I wanted something swampy and bluesy and so I contacted him about collaborating and that's how the single I Got Burned came together.

"When I asked him about it, he said the lyrics were 'right on the money'. They seemed to resonate strongly with him and for me it was a big honour because I highly regard him as a songwriter. He came down to the studio and bashed it out in a couple of takes. While he's not known for the falsetto range he gives on I Got Burned, it has ended up being a mix of Curtis Mayfield and the quintessential Tim Rogers."

Ferguson has kept in touch with Rogers since recording the hit, which they performed together on ABC TV's Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight last year. They will reunite for a national tour, billed as the Rock n' Soul Medicine Show, which hits town as part of the Perth Festival. "When it came time to make plans for an upcoming tour, it was an easy decision to play together," he says.

And record together. Last week, Rogers and Ferguson said they have been in the studio writing new songs, which are their first collaborations since I Got Burned and should be aired on the tour.

"Expect a lot of the Bamboos' tracks, with our lead singer Kylie Auldist doing her thing," Ferguson says. "But what we also plan to do is play I Got Burned alongside some of Tim's stuff and You Am I's material arranged in the Bamboos' fashion. Tim is actually going to sing a couple of our songs, just to give the crowd a male voice."

Other guests on Medicine Man - the Bamboos' fifth long-player - include British diva Alice Russell, American soul talent Aloe Blacc and Australian Idol alumnus Bobby Flynn.

The album and the impending live performances are the band's most diverse undertaking thus far.

"We've already picked out some covers that we want to do as well," he continues. "The Meters are certainly on the list but there is so much good music out there that we are going to have a hard time containing ourselves within the time constraint we'll have.

"Tim is an unpredictable character and things can kind of go everywhere. It'll be like when we supported New Orleans' Eddie Bo, where you are on what I would call a rollercoaster ride."