I’ve only seen The Hot Jazz Biscuits once and that was enough to have them firmly fixed in my head as one of the best bands I’ve seen at a wedding.
- Is it going to be a good day?
- Are there going to be many guests there?
- Will they let their hair down on a Monday evening and enjoy themselves?
Well gladly, the answer to all three questions was a resounding YES!
The Hot Jazz Biscuits just topped off a brilliant day overall and contributed to a wonderful evening!
Read more about what makes these particular biscuits so tasty below… ;-)
Can you tell us a little about your history?
“We met whilst studying music at University in Manchester back in 2003.
Starting a function band seemed one of the ‘obvious’ post-uni routes to riches.
Turns out that’s not the case, but it’s really good fun!”
Who are your musical influences and how would you describe your style?
“A mixed bag really. We’re a functioning band, and as such, need as varied a repertoire as possible.
We usually take a vaguely chronological approach to wedding setlists. Kicking off with a portion of toe-tapping jazz and swing, moving on to a solid dose of classic soul and Motown.
Then start the second set in the same vein, slightly more funk/soul, a sprinkle of disco and pop, finishing with some current chart hits. Something for everyone.
Though for the record – absolutely no Beiber.”
If you’re asked for a song that isn’t in your style would you work up an alternative version or just mirror the original as closely as possible?
“There are quite often instrumental restraints that would dictate our approach. Due to budget restraints, we no longer travel with our string orchestra, for example ;-)
With the popularity of ‘the cover version’, and projects like Radio One’s ‘Live Lounge’, a stripped back cover usually does the trick.”
How do you get a shy crowd dancing?
“It’s not often we struggle tbh, though it does happen.
We find that in these instances, there are usually other contributing factors. Playing too soon after the wedding breakfast for example, or during a buffet… the food always wins that one!
We’d simply cut the current set short, and add extra time to the later set.”
What kind of backup plan do you have for any kit malfunction?
“We once came back from a half-time buffet trip to a flaming mixing desk! (not even joking, thick black smoke… scary!).
Luckily on that occasion, our guitarist, Dave, had a spare in his van. And from that day on, we’ve always got backup options with us.”
What’s your policy in case of illness of one or more of the band members?
“We’ll never cancel a booking, and have plenty of musicians rehearsed and ready to go.”
Can prospective clients get to see you live before their wedding?
“Almost all of our bookings are private weddings, so unfortunately not as often as we’d hope.
We do play public showcase gigs on occasion, usually to our ‘home crowd’ in Shrewsbury. We always post public event information on our Facebook page.”
What are your favourite wedding venues in terms of layout and acoustics?
“Three main criteria (in no particular order)
- Ease of load in
- Sound limiter
- Performance space
We have a lot of heavy gear, and we’re not getting any younger. Nobody likes carrying 50kg subs up staircases! Parking near to the performance area is also a bonus.
Sound limiters are usually totally fine. Though on occasion, they can totally ruin our (and the crowds) night. Modern limiters will cut power to the stage if we’re too loud for too long. The collective fear of that ten-second silence in pitch black mid first dance sets the band on edge. We’ll play the whole night staring at the monitor, trying not to get too excited. Boo.
As we’re usually the last to arrive to set up, we’re often dropped into a space war!
We hear things like ‘you’ll easily get in there’, ‘can’t you just squeeze in?’ – erm No!
In a word, the closer we are together on stage, the harder the sound re-enforcement becomes (drums leaking onto the vocal mic, for example). It’s often the reason why pub bands sound so messy.
Secondly, if we’re not dancing, why should we expect a crowd to?”
Here are some of our favourites;
Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share?
“To share? No no no… OK, one.
Working with our mates every weekend is great fun, and here’s the first that comes to mind.
We spent a few months debating the best image for us on gigs – what we should wear etc.
Finally, we made a decision. Suits – but no black/white. Greys, blues, browns etc were fine.
Anyway, Pete was last to sort his Biscuit outfit. He was travelling to China toward the end of summer and his bragging reached monumental heights “I’ll get four suits for the same price you will etc.”
Anyway, we’re all at a wedding in Shropshire in late Summer 2015. Pete’s proudly sporting his freshly fitted silky silver suit – the swagger edges on sickening. It’s a beautifully warm summers evening, so we leave jackets on the back of chairs, and pop outside for the half-time oranges.
Through the window, we see a member of staff placing tea lights around the venue. Very nice, but as if we need more heat in there!
Suddenly panic… utter panic, never seen him move so fast, Pete’s off! He’s ditched his beige buffet delights, dives through the crowd, and tackles the smoking mess that, as you’ve likely guessed, is his not-so-shiny flaming silk suit.
Flames doused, buffet retrieved, all is well. He stubbornly wore it for the rest of the wedding, with a six-inch diameter hole in his back.
As supportive friends, we, of course, stayed calm and didn’t laugh one bit… not one bit – honestly!”
Any tips for couples looking for a band for their wedding?
- Book early! The best musicians are in the most demand.
- Avoid bands who use backing tracks – Keep music live, eh.
- The bigger the band, the more impact they’ll have – A bigger band playing two sets, would be more effective than a smaller band playing three, for example.
- Don’t let your mates do it… No, your cousin Dave can’t DJ, especially not after an entire day’s drinking.
- If you have a band, you won’t need a DJ. Simply make your own playlists, and play them through the band’s PA in the gaps. Don’t let Dave do it, though.
Hot Jazz Biscuits Website: http://www.thehotjazzbiscuits.com/