Times Have Changed, Ronnie Baker Brooks’ first album in ten years, carries with it the weight of maturity and weighted experience and with it’s imminent release on the 20th January The Fountain interviewed the American singer and songwriter about what’s changed.
Brooks spoke to us about moving more towards a collaborative approach with writing, the perks of being Lonnie Brooks’ son and hope of a far-flung tour.
TF: So you have new album, Times Have Changed, out near the end of January – you must be ecstatic?
I’m very excited!
TF: It’s been ten years since the last one, why so long between albums? What have you been busying yourself with over the last decade?
I’ve been working on projects with other artist, like producing Eddy Clearwater’s West Side Strut and The Juke Joints’ Going To Chicago, recording with Big Head Todd and The Monster’s, Elvin Bishop, my dad Lonnie Brooks and several other artists, along with touring with my band and raising a 14 year old daughter. So, it was time to do something for myself.
TF: You have some fantastic names involved in this album – Angie Stone and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland to name a couple – how did you get this talent involved?
My producer Steve Jordan facilitated getting all the guest artist and musicians on this record. Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland had been my dad’s friend for nearly fifty years, so that helped a little too.
TF: And how loyal to your fans were you with this old album? Is it similar to your old material or do you feel you have moved vastly away from the sound of The Torch and Golddigger?
I think an artist should play songs that they can feel musically to stay loyal to the music and themselves first, then I believe the audience can feel the sincerity in the music.
My earlier recordings Golddigger, Take Me Witcha and The Torch have some similar elements as my new Times Have Changed record. Steve (Jordan) wanted to focus more on song selections, sounds, performances, and feel. He made sure that I didn’t feel like I had to carry the work load, as far as the songwriting and the arrangements of the songs. My previous records prepared me for this new record though, because I was comfortable with doing less when I used to think I needed to do more.
TF: And you also write your own music. Is that a collaborative process or how do you prefer to work this?
Lately, I’ve been in the collaborative mode with songwriting. For my new record, I co-wrote Doing Too Much with Big Head Todd Mohr and Wham Bam Thank You Sam with Keb’ Mo’ and Kevin So.
I do love writing songs a lot, collaborating or alone. I just love a creative atmosphere.
TF: Being from Chicago there is a great wealth of music that will have no doubt influenced your own art – where have you drawn your influences from?
There is and has been many great musicians and styles of music in Chicago, be it Blues, R&B, Soul, Rock, Gospel and even Hip Hop! As a child, my father would play all kinds of music around the house and that definitely had an influence on me. Hearing all these different styles growing up is valuable in keeping my songs authentic and current today.
TF: Do you have any dates planned for playing in the UK, in Scotland in particular?
My first time touring in Europe was in the UK and Scotland back in 1987. I’ve been back to the UK with my dad’s band since then but I’ve haven’t toured there with my own band, so I’m way over due to come back!
TF: What more can we expect from you after this album release?
Each record I do, I use it as a platform to grow to be a better songwriter, singer and musician, so I’m very excited for the future!
I’m hoping this album release will enable me to tour everywhere, especially in countries I’ve never been before and continue my Family’s legacy worldwide!
Ronnie Baker Brooks new album Times Have Changed will be released on Provogue/Mascot Label Group on 20 January 2017.
Photo by Paul Natkin