If I want to make something myself, I want to listen to something absolutely brilliant so I’m inspired, intrigued and fascinated by all processes. Something/Anything is an amazing album. Todd Rundgren did the whole thing – he wrote all the songs, produced them and arranged them… I’ve studied the album more than I listened to it; I didn’t try anything else for nine months, I was that blown away.
‘It Takes Two to Tango’ on the first side is a brilliant song, specially with him being only 17-18 years old at that time, and I love ‘I Went to the Mirror’, on the second side. It’s a dark song that goes into a mad shuffle rhythm in the end with an amazing slide guitar. Also, the guitar in ‘Sweeter Memories’ is sublime, just beautiful. I think it’s a complete work of genius – I don’t understand why they all weren’t hits, personally.
The album is just one of those things you can play all the way through. It’s his attention to detail, all of those little elements that are going to make a great song; something that is so catchy, you are going to sing it time after time. Todd is the master of that. He is absolutely not afraid, and that’s the best thing about it.
I remember I was driving through the garden of my home in Jamaica, Todd’s CD was on in my car, and along comes this song called ‘Black and White’. I said to the guys “check this out, wait ’til the chorus comes in… it’s really fantastic”. Then, the chorus comes in, and we looked to each other and went “Oh my God”. The chorus in my song ‘Like a Samurai’ and in Rundgren’s ‘Black and White’ are exactly the same…but I didn’t steal it! It shows that when you emerge yourself in something, which is what I did with this album, the beats should come up at some point. Todd made me realise how important backing vocals are to the songs. He produced big bands like Grand Funk Railroad and The Psychedelic Furs.
He was at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1998 when we played for the first time. I remember groaning when I was looking at the itinerary thinking ‘he is playing on Saturday and we are playing on Friday’. But he was in the audience when we played, and he said “you guys tore it up, it was brilliant”.
He’s been my hero from 16 years old and I’m 48 now. He got in touch with the Faithless team to say he wanted to produce us, and they basically said no. But I didn’t find out about that until probably two years later… Then I met him at the Jazz Café in London; I heard he was playing there and I got a backstage pass. And when he was done, he simply said to me: “So, are you that guy from Faithless?”.
Maxi Jazz & The E-Type Boys launch ‘Mass Destruction’, from the current album ‘Simple..Not Easy’, on December 9 2016. They play Ronnie Scott’s, London 29 November – 1 December 2016