Interview with Sean Flowerdew

Redstar73 Blog: Lets start with Pama International. Is there a chance of a few reunion shows? Any unreleased recordings?
Sean: There won’t be any reunion shows as such, but Pama Intl was always a collective vibe you know. I pulled in different players when needed. By the end of Pama Intl I just wasn’t happy working in that enviroment anymore so had to remove myself. I will definitely do Pama Intl again one day, but it will be totally different to anything I’ve done before with it. I’ve got lots of other music adventures I want to have before then.

As for unreleased material… Wrongtom has been working on a complete dub reworking of the Pama Intl-Love Filled Dub Band album on and off for sometime. I’m very happy to say it’s almost finished… it’s going to be called Pama Intl Meets Wrongtom “The Seventh Dub” … should be out digitally and ltd.heavyweight vinyl/cd in Sept/Oct on my new Phoenix City label.

Redstar73 Blog: Rockers Revolt Records is over. Why did you decide to stop the record label? Which releases were the best sellers?

Sean: I’m stopping Rockers Revolt to start a new label… Phoenix City Record Co…. the opportunity came up to start a new label as a subsidiary at Cherry Red Records. They are real music lovers there… and the longest surviving truly independent record label in the UK. They formed back in 1978 and have released some fantastic music over the years. As I’m sure you know it’s getting harder and harder to sell new music, and I was finding it hard to justify the time and money to promote and sell new bands all by myself at Rockers Revolt. I’d been thinking about stopping RR for awhile, but don’t think I ever would of. It’s what I do. I always need a label. Thankfully this great opportunity came up, which has given me some wonderful opportunities to step things up a level. It’s important to keep things moving forward and reassess all the time. Phoenix City will take all the best bits from what I learnt at Rockers Revolt… and further them. The new label launches 1st August with some digital albums, but we’ll be doing CD and a collectors series of vinyl very soon. Some great names are getting involved with the label. Very excited about it.

The best sellers on RR hands down were Pama Intl… Outernational, followed by Love Filled Dub Band. I’m proud to say every new Pama Intl album we did outsold the last, got more airplay and better reviews… so we were always moving in the right direction. Unfortunately most of the other titles on the label didn’t sell nearly as well.

Redstar73 Blog: How was the International Ska Festival 2011 in London? Any good stories to tell?
Sean: It was truly incredible and surpassed everything I hoped it would be. There were many very special moments that filled the theatre with so much emotion. Rico guesting with The Trojans and finishing with him singing ‘What A Wonderful World’, Ken Boothe and Marcia Griffiths were incredible… the best I’ve ever seen them… truly world class legends. The Caroloregians own set and backing the Dave & Ansel Collins very special reformation was brilliant. Teaming Lee Thompson’s Ska Orchestra with Owen Grey was also wonderful. The original line up of the Hotknives blew everyone away. All in all it was an unforgettable 4 days. I knew it would be a lot of work but organising 38 acts from 11 countries was hard going… not sure how I got through the 4 days but I did and I’m very proud of it. Something about the festival that I never expected that made it so special for me was how far people travelled for it. I met people in the crowd from Venezuela, Russia, USA, all over Europe & UK, Argentina, Japan and probably the furtherest travelled people from Brisbane, Australia! It was truly an international affair.

It was also good to see so many 2 Tone faces there. When I did the first London Intl Ska Festival back in 1988 the 2 Tone musicians were pretty much ignoring ska… but at 2011 we had Lynval, Rico, Rhoda, Lee & Bedders from Madness. Jerry Dammers came along and bought some Caroloregians CDs.

Redstar73 Blog: And what are your plans for next year?
Sean: I’m starting to programme it now… so far we’ve got Neol Davies (The Selecter), the original Hotknives (back by popular demand) and Los Granadians. Early stages. We’re going to have 40 acts from something like 13 countries. Lots of exclusives, Jamaican legends, an incredible 2 Tone Revue (totally unique to our fest)… and bands flying in from all over the world just for the fest. The aim is to make it an annual event where people can come and see so many great artists that they’d never get the chance to see all in one room. A truly one-off bespoke celebration of all things Ska.

Redstar73 Blog: Can you tell us more about your new band project?
Sean: It’s more of a soul/rhythm & blues affair… raw and rawkus…. though I’m struggling to find the time I need to dedicate to it. I kind of got tired of being in a good band… making good records… I want to be in a great band that makes all time classic albums. Got to reach high right? I’m looking for the right singer still. I found a phenomenal female singer in California, but obviously there’s logistical difficulties with that. I’m looking for the right players as well. Taking my time to do it properly.

Redstar73 Blog: Last words?!
Sean: I hope to see you at the London Intl Ska Festival 2012. If you get the chance check out the new label www.facebook.com/phoenixcityrecco

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