When Boy Azooga mastermind Davey Newington talks about the music and artists that he loves, he’s filled to the brim with enthusiasm. Yet it wasn’t inspirations like the Beach Boys, Caribou, OutKast or Ty Segall who initially spurred him on to chase his musical dreams. It was Jack Black. “It sounds really daft,” he says, “but I saw ‘School of Rock’ when I was 12 or 13 and that was a bit of an epiphany moment when I was like ‘right, this is what I have to do’.”
Jack Black’s oeuvre is hardly where Davey’s musical story begins though. His parents met playing in the BBC Orchestra of Wales, he’d started learning to play drums as a child and participated in numerous orchestras and bands in his youth (“I just always really like staying on after school and doing all of that kind of stuff”). He admits though that, despite being surrounded by all kinds of sounds, his musical palette as a teenager was a little more limited. “I only really listened to Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Run DMC and Queen and that was about it,” Davey explains. It was an inspirational teacher that helped him expand his horizons, suggesting he seek out the krautrock rhythms of Can. “It did totally blow my mind,” he says. “It sounded like aliens were making the music. Then I just discovered a load of bands around that period.”
His now expansive list of influences are evident on Boy Azooga’s debut single, ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette.’ Psychedelic and dynamic, it’s built on propulsive percussive elements inspired by Nigerian funklord William Onyeabor, showing off his affinity for the drums. “I kind of think in drums. I think drums are really vital to a song having a groove,” he says.
The drum beats that once floated around in his head have also become an upcoming debut album. He’s played every instrument on the record (with the exception of the strings, for which he enlisted his dad), heading to the living room of producer Eddie El Shakarchie to lay down the tracks. “I really like the thing of being able to sit on your friend’s couch,” he explains, “I think it really informs how you record and how you play when you know that you’re not bound down time-wise.”
“I’d love to be in the position where we were just constantly creating stuff.”
Harnessing the full breadth of his influences, it’s also set to be jam-packed with variety. “One of the songs has a really loud guitar bit at the end but then other songs are really quite melancholy. I just wanted to have a huge range of stuff,” Davey says. He’s created a treasure trove, one that will ensure listeners keep coming back to discover all of its secrets: “I really like albums that I feel like a lot of thought’s gone into it and where all the detail in them keep them interesting after a few listens.”
But while Davey has recorded a first album (almost) entirely alone, it would have been a tall order to replicate that textured, diverse sound live. So for the live band he’s recruited friends Daf Davies, Dylan Morgan and Sam Barnes to help him on stage. Looking ahead though, he wants to get them more involved with future endeavours. “Now if I’ve got something I can go to the practice room the other boys will be there and we can just jam stuff out,” he says. “The newer stuff we’re doing is a little more band-oriented.”
The full Boy Azooga outfit are gearing up to the hit the road – including a tour with Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever in May – but Davey’s always looking forward to sharing his ideas with the world: “I’d love to be in the position where we were just constantly creating stuff.” He’s also still constantly striving to add other strings to his bow. “I’d love to get into recording more. I’ve got some knowledge, I know my way around a bit but I’ve got a low understanding of recording so I’m lucky to have Ed. But I’d love to produce bands in the future and have a studio and have a studio dog, that’d be great!” Armed with an already impressive arsenal of skills though, Boy Azooga are set to envelop you in their fascinating sonic world.
Boy Azooga’s debut album ‘1 2, Kung Fu!’ is out 8th June via Heavenly.
Taken from the March 2018 issue of DIY. Read online or subscribe below.