Nothing fazes the Riotous Brothers, who are currently touring their new album, The Tree. Not even hecklers can ruin the party, as Mash Sonnet (guitars and vocals) and Paul Long (keyboards and vocals) explain.
What makes a good gig for you?
**MS: **Sometimes you can have a brilliant gig and not do your best playing. It’s just the vibe. A good gig is when the whole room is alive.
**PL: **We try and get people involved. We are not playing at people. You’re always trying to get that connection with the audience, which can make it a special gig.
How do festivals compare to regular headline shows?
**PL: **I like festivals, because they’re all mud and bullets. You have 15 minutes to throw your gear on stage and just play. When we’ve had a nice long soundcheck it can spoil things. It can take the edge off.
What’s the best heckle you’ve ever had during a gig?
**MS: **We had a professional tambourine player at one gig who came up and played tambourine in my ear for five songs. At the Swanage Blues Festival, we had a heckler who we got up on stage and we asked her to clap and sing…
**PL: **She had shouted, “This isn’t the blues!” The whole audience went “Boo!” so Mash said, “Come up here and tell everybody.” Of course, she was too scared to carry on heckling then.
Is there one blues song you’d happily never play again?
**PL: **I don’t mind if I never hear anyone play Hoochie Coochie Man ever again – magical record that it is. We play a lot of original music, which sometimes make it more difficult, because it’s harder to get gigs. But when you have an audience who are into it, it’s better than playing other people’s material.
Paul, how does being a recording engineer and a producer impact you as a performer?
**PL: **When we do the basic tracks on the album, I’m not allowed to interfere with the engineering, because my head’s in too many places. We all play live and I leave it to the engineer. I’ll pick it up afterwards and take it on from there.
What advice would you give other bands?
**PL: **When I’m watching young bands, you have to remind them that they’re supposed to be entertaining people. Often they just look towards the back or gaze at their feet. They need to embrace the occasion and believe in themselves.