It’s back to grass Roots

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Kiwi stars Cornerstone Roots are going right back to basics on their latest tour.

The reggae-roots favourites have chopped their lineup from a seven- to a four-piece for a string of nationwide winter gigs, including a date at Queenstown’s Revolver on Saturday.

Gone are the powerhouse horns, backing singers and keyboards that featured in their rousing live shows in recent years.

Instead, founding members – frontman Brian Ruawai and bassist Naomi Tuao – will road test a new guitarist and drummer.

But the sound that’s so far earned Cornerstone Roots two top-selling albums is still “massive”, Ruawai insists.

“All the musicians, singers and lights had been a big part of our show for quite a long time,” he says. “But if anything, it was all becoming a bit of a distraction.

“We’ve now stripped things down to the bone but it’s still a pretty heavy-duty noise we put out so there are no worries there.”

The Raglan-based outfit has even lost long-term percussionist Aaron Bush – who recently upped and left for India.

“After a gig about three months ago, out of the blue he told me he was off and he’d just played his last show with us,” singer/guitarist Ruawai explains. “He’d always wanted to travel India and so he just kind of disappeared and
did it.”

For the past six months the band has been hard at work in Ruawai’s home studio recording a follow-up to their albums Soul Revolution and Free Yourself.

“This time around we’ve been trying to knock out a few more tunes that could be singles,” Ruawai says. “The idea is to get some of the songs down from six or seven minutes to around the four-minute mark.

“It means trimming down some of the trademark long intros and stuff but we’re trying to keep things pretty tight.
“We’ve laid down quite a few tracks already but we really need to get our skates on and get it finished.

“People at the Queenstown gig will be able to hear some of the new stuff as we plan to give some of it a bit of an airing.”

Ruawai reckons fans will be able to get a hold of the new album at the end of October.

And he jokes: “We’re aiming to get it out there well before Christmas because around then all anyone buys is those Abba compilations.”

Catch Cornerstone Roots and support band Taos at Revolver on Saturday from 9pm