Good vibe times with The Roots
Roots founder Tariq Trotter promises great shows, even if the band fails to get along, writes Mikey Cahill
LADIES and gentlemen, please make him feel welcome, it’s the Dalai Lama of the Microphone, the MC with positive vibes even though his name is Black Thought, The Roots co-founder with Questlove: Tariq Trotter! Um. Hello. Tariq?
‘‘It’s actually past my bedtime right now,’’ Trotter croaks. He’s not being rude, he just sounds a little like burnt toast. Like the world has overcooked him and instead of talking about an Australian tour he’d rather be catching some Zs.
It’s so far into Trotter’s day that he’s speaking at a pace that suggests he’s from the American Deep South, not Philadelphia. Isn’t he used to (drum roll) late nights (boom, tish)? ‘‘We taped Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from five to seven tonight, then I went shopping with my wife, and now I’m home and I should get to bed,’’ he says.
We might as well cut him some slack, The Roots are 13 albums into their career and they’ve never, repeat, never made a bad record. Last month they knocked it outta the park with a fully fledged Elvis Costello collaboration, Wise Up Ghost.
Trotter and drummer and Twitter overlord Questlove formed The Roots in 1987 after jamming at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts.
Sidewalks led to coffee shops led to stadiums as they assembled a posse of musicians and characters that had enough creative tension to bear fruit.
Their biggest hit has been The Seed Version 2.0, featuring Cody Chesnutt. Just like Chesnutt, The Roots have long rejected rap’s booty clips and vertebrae-testing bling. Black Thought rapped: ‘‘Who can stop the music running through these veins? Infinitely go against the grain,’’ on What They Do way back in the day and even threw down a Super Mario Brothers Rap in June during Video Game Week on Fallon.
Back to their live show, because with The Roots that’s the end game. ‘‘It has to be in the absence of all ego,’’ he offers. ‘‘If everything is good for us, between the members of the band before the curtain opens up, then the crowd will get a good show. Even if everything isn’t good we’re still gonna be professional and give it all. For the audience, it’s win-win.’’ Recent inclusions in their sets have included Sweet
Child o’ Mine and Whole Lotta Love – any chance they’ll cover some Australian music?
‘‘It’s a possibility we’ll do something that Australians will instantly identify with,’’ he says. Any AC/DC up your 16 sleeves? ‘‘Not yet, but it’s doable.’’
The Roots, Violent Femmes, Neil Finn, The Cat Empire and more play the sold-out Falls Music & Arts Festival, at North Byron Parklands, Yelgun, from December 31 to January 3.