Ted Bowne of Passafire stopped by The Pier to tell us that he’s currently in production on a project with H.R. of Bad Brains.
As it turns out, H.R. moved to Maryland about 25 miles from Ted’s Passafarm studio. Looking to connect with local music makers, H.R. was invited over to Ted’s studio and upon ending the visit, H.R. decided he wanted to record an album there. Ted was introduced to H.R. through a mutual friend, James Lathos of Small Axe Films, who produced and directed a documentary about H.R. called, “Finding Joseph I” that you can find on Amazon Prime.
H.R., who’s real name is Paul D. Hudson, was the front-man for the trailblazing Bad Brains. The band formed in 1977 in D.C. and went on to originate a merging sound of hardcore punk and reggae, being cited as influential icons from the likes of Sublime, 311, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more.
When I asked Ted if he’ll be singing on the album or just producing it, he explains: “There are some tracks where I add some lead vocals and others where my contributions are more atmospheric and underneath H.R.’s. Basically, we go through a bunch of instrumentals I have and he chooses the ones he wants to work on and we go from there.”
The album is expected to be narrowed down to 10 total songs of reggae music. Ted tells The Pier: “H.R. is focused on making roots reggae music for the rest of his career. There won’t be any punk-rock or hard-core on this record. Strictly roots. The production style is a mixture of late 70’s, early 80’s Jamaican reggae with a modern hi-fi sound, synth tones and vocal effects.”
While we can expect all new music, Ted did mention that there are a couple of older H.R. songs being revisited & updated in a modern reggae style, but didn’t elaborate on which songs. The hope is for a summertime release, depending on label interest and support.
H.R. is only the latest to come through Passafarm which is described as a destination recording experience in the middle of the eastern shore countryside in MD. Located just hours from New York City, Philadelphia, DC, Richmond & VA Beach, Passafarm accommodates bands of all sizes, including solo artists with lodging and food available for out of town artists. Such bands as Eastern Electric, Snacks & Five, Neverending Fall, Bumpin Uglies, Ballyhoo, and Honey Shine have all come through to write and record new music.
Considering reggae’s collaborative nature & Passafarm’s hospital environment of hosting artists, Ted did confirm that there are guest vocalists being discussed for the record with H.R., but it’s too early to drop names. The pair have been meeting up every Friday for the last couple of months to hammer this record home.
I was thankfully introduced to Bad Brains from some of my favorite bands that I did grow up with and it all happened during the year of 1999 — First it was via Bargain Music on their album 77 003 when H.R. was featured on the song “Black Eye.” Then, I saw his name attached to the song “New Sun” on Long Beach Dub Allstars album, Right Back. If that wasn’t enough, that same year, 311 released their album Soundsystem and it featured a cover of a song H.R. wrote with Bad Brains called, “Leaving Babylon.”
H.R. has been an influential force in music since the late 70’s and it’s exciting to see how his style bodes with another generation of reggae rock, this time under the production of Passafire’s Ted Bowne.
Stay tuned for more details.
Watch: Ted Bowne (of Passafire) – “Roller Skates” Cover