Rudimental Interview: On Their New Album, Getting Pranked By Ed Sheeran And Becoming The UK’s Biggest Party Band

Thanks to their joyous live shows, east London boys Rudimental have become the UK’s biggest party band. With second album ‘We The Generation’ poised to explode on October 2, they explain their “positivity, love and being free” mantra to Chris Cottingham

Turns out Ed Sheeran has a cruel sense of humour. When Rudimental were on tour with him last year, the group’s Piers Agget was drunk before going onstage, so Sheeran told him his cat had died to shock him sober. “Not funny,”
says Piers. “Worked though.”

A new version of Sheeran’s 2014 track ‘Bloodstream’ appears on Rudimental’s second album ‘We The Generation’, cementing an alliance that began with the latter remixing the former when both careers were in their infancy. “Ed is from a different world and it’s a bit of a weird combination, for us and him, but it works well,” says Amir Izadkhah, aka producer Amir Amor. Another key collaborator on the four-piece’s new album is late soul singer Bobby Womack, who appears on ‘New Day’. “Bobby’s wife told us that, before he died, he’d asked for us to finish it,” says Amir. “It’s quite a responsibility. You don’t want to f*** something like that up.”

Where Rudimental’s 2013 debut ‘Home’ took rave culture – drum’n’bass, house, dubstep – and welded it to pop and soul, ‘We The Generation’ ups the soul/dance ratio and pushes both into interesting new places as a result. If the album’s title sounds like a statement, it is – but a bit of a woolly one. “There’s a new generation of music that we’ve been at the forefront of,” says Amir. “‘We The Generation’, for me, is about positivity, love and a big family coming together.” Piers picks up the thread: “It’s also about life in general. People put restrictions on you. Like, you can’t do that. We’re gonna do it and see what happens. We’re about being free.”

Amir and Piers are in the east London studio they share with bandmates Leon ‘DJ Locksmith’ Rolle and Kesi Dryden, perched around a coffee table strewn with ash, bits of rolling tobacco and a Scrabble set. They’re both super friendly, grinning through luxuriant beards. Piers, Leon and Kesi are childhood friends, and Piers’ house in Hackney was a kind of unofficial youth centre. “I had decks and a mixer, and a lot of the east London grime lot used to hang out there,” he says. Amir, meanwhile, was born in Iran, where his older brother was in one of the country’s first punk bands, O-Hum. “You can get in a lot of trouble for playing Western music [in Iran],” he says. “Whipped, put in jail. Going on tour for him was like being a fugitive on the run.”

That sense of the importance of live music has fed into Rudimental’s own joyous live shows. They’re now one of music’s biggest festival draws, with 10 people onstage creating a carnival atmosphere. Whether they’re playing a rock festival or an EDM bro-down, the band are confident of winning over doubters wherever they go – and with dates coming up in the US and Australia alongside their biggest ever UK shows, they’ll soon be putting that to the test.

“If we had an amazing crowd for every single show, we wouldn’t have anything to work for,” says Piers. “Our stubbornness about sticking to what we want to play means eventually people have to start paying attention – whether they want to or not.”