Interview: Cover Drive talk touring, new single, EP, Rihanna and more! [Part One]

As seen on Yahoo! omg UK. After a brief hiatus, platinum-selling band Cover Drive have made their return to UK shores with their first ever headline tour, hitting up the likes of everywhere from Glasgow to London.

Hailing from Barbados, the quartet have achieved three UK top ten singles, including the incredibly infectious “Twilight” and the summery “Sparks“, as well as scoring within the top 20 of the chart with their debut album ‘Bajan Style. Now working on their sophomore release, the group is steadily gearing up to release their EP ‘Liming in Limbo’ – in the coming weeks.

Amanda Reifer, Barry “Bar-Man” Hill, Jamar Harding and T-Ray Armstrong, sat down with me during their tour to discuss everything from music, performing, albums and Rihanna, to Netflix, Nando’s and… Elephants.

Here’s what they had to say:

First things first, how are you finding your first UK tour? How’s it been going?

Amanda: It’s been going great! It’s incredible, it’s fantastic! All those great words really, we’re so excited ’cause obviously we’ve done a lot support tours for lots of big acts, you know, Dappy, we did a show for Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, and to finally have our own show where all our fans are coming out, they’re singing every word to our songs, we’re having a great hang-out with them, it’s been amazing so far. They’ve been the best three shows of our life so far.

T-Ray: Like a giant party – It’s been a giant hour-long party.

What would you say has been your favourite show? Between Manchester, Birmingham and London?

T-Ray:
 They all were special in different ways.

Amanda: Each show is different because there are different people there at each show, and obviously we interact a lot with our fans, we make them a part of each show so depending on how the crowd is determines the show, but each show has been amazing. I think the most exciting show has to be the London show.

T-Ray: Because it was the first show.

Amanda: It’s interesting because people always say London’s such a tough crowd, it was incredible, everyone sang every word to every song.

T-Ray: It was awesome! There was a lot of firsts that night, first time having all your friends come out, first hour-long show.

Amanda: I think London was London, but then Manchester and Birmingham were awesome to, it’s hard to choose.

Obviously since your from Barbados, what would you say is your favourite thing about London?

Amanda: Aside from our UK fans? ‘Cause that’s our favourite thing about London for sure. I would say the shopping is incredible, because in Barbados we don’t have all the cool things that you guys have here, in particular the Doc Martens store, because I’m obsessed with that.

T-Ray: Or Nando’s [Laughs]

Amanda: I think we also just love the city life, in our apartment we can see the London Eye, the Shard – they’ve been doing fireworks a lot recently so you get to see it all.

Barry: I was gonna’ say actually, one of my favourite things about London is the skyline at night, I think it’s amazing, so beautiful.

You’ve had a lot of success here in the UK, with Twilight hitting #1 and Sparks hitting #4, but if you had to describe your music as one genre, what would you call it?

Amanda: We like to call our music ‘Carib-Pop” music, I think that’s the best description, it’s a mixture of Carribbean music and Pop music, that just sums it up, it’s feel good and fun.

Okay, so how did you guys all meet? How did it all start?

Amanda: I used to baby-sit T-Ray when we were kids, I was about 15, he was maybe 12 and 13 and he used to hide up in his bedroom, so that’s how we met. We just became friends, he’s a cool guy and we just have fun. Barry and I have known each other for ages because we have friends in common, so I’ve known Barry since I was about 12 years old because we had friends in common.

T-Ray: Jamar and I are in the same age group so that’s how we knew each other.

Jamar: I think the first time I actually met T-Ray was when I was at a party and he was jumping over a pool.

T-Ray: They used to call me “pool-jumper”, I did it for attention obviously.

Did you ever fall in the pool?

T-Ray: No actually, I could clear a pool pretty easy, not the long way but short way.

Jamar: I used to jump over stuff they used to call me kangaroo.

How did you guys come up with the name?

T-Ray: That’s my dad actually, because we wanted a name that tied in with the Caribbean and also sounded cool, and cricket’s our natural sport in Barbados and my dad loves cricket, so we were trying to think of a name that was good and cricket related, and my dad said Cover Drive is an excellent, very class shot and we strive for excellence – you know, ‘Dad talk’. So you don’t wanna’ argue with my dad because he’s big and buff, so yeah (laughs)

Amanda: But we liked it though, we definitely loved the name, It was definitely the best option.

T-Ray: And our names that we came up with were very bad, we had Drive 35…

Amanda: We had The Wickets at some point.

T-Ray: We had Atlantic Transaction, we had All Black because we’re all black! But it wasn’t very classy.

Amanda: Cover Drive was the best name, we liked how it sounded.

So is that why your fans are called CD Fielders?

Jamar: Yeah! See, you got it!

So your latest single is called ‘Lovesick Riddim’ right?

Amanda: Yeah! Well ‘Lovesick Riddim‘ is the last song that we released for our fans, we’re still writing our second album and our fans have been begging us for new music for the last year and a half, and before when we were writing ‘Bajan Style’ we took as long as we had to take with that album, because obviously, no one knew who we were, so we didn’t have this pressure to release this album as we did. But since we’re in the process of writing our second album which is taking just as long as the first, our fans our really eager to get music, so we’ve decided that we’re just going to put out some songs on the journey, so they can feel like their part of that.

T-Ray: It’s like a gift.

It’s off the EP ‘Liming in Limbo’ right? What can we expect from that?

Amanda: Well ‘Liming In Limbo’ is a compilation of some songs that we’ve written whilst readying the second album, songs that aren’t necessarily on the album, but they’re songs that are part of our journey and we want our fans to be a part of that – so we’re sharing it with them.

What would be your Top 3 collaborations?

Amanda: Hands down, No Doubt, we’re obsessed with them; in particular I’m obsessed with Gwen Stefani. We love their music, ‘Tragic Kingdom’ and ‘Rock Steady’ are still my favourite albums, and ‘Sunday Morning‘ is still my favourite song, like we are obsessed with them, so we’d love to collaborate with them. Bruno Mars is incredible, In the UK, Ed Sheeran, we call him the ginger king, he’s so incredible and we love his music! We’ve met him a few times and he’s always been very sweet and down to earth, we think that his vibe is very cool because he does this thing sometime that is kind of like a Caribbean chanting, which we think would be kind of cool, I think with Cover Drive.

What about in terms of UK artists?

T-Ray: James Arthur, Mr Blue Eyes man, he’s a boss.

Amanda: We don’t really watch X Factor, but the truth is we came here and we saw the song on the TV and we were like “Who’s this kid?” and we looked him up and it was just incredible music! We really like his vibe. Also, Jessie J, she’s cool.

Jamar: We heard about him in Barbados too, because he covered one of our artists, Shontelle.

What was it like opening up for Rihanna?

T-Ray: Terrifying, absolutely terrifying, that was our first ever gig! We were actually in the promotional stage for ‘Lick Ya Down’, and we were driving to Scotland and our manager got an email from Rihanna’s people, saying that “Rihanna has selected Cover Drive to open for her Barbados segment of her Loud Tour.” First of all, we don’t even have any other emails, I don’t know how they got my mum’s email (who’s our manager,) so we’re like, well we can’t say no to Rihanna, so we flew back to Barbados and rehearsed for two days and went onstage. There were 25,000 Barbadians which is a very hard crowd, but that was our first gig.

Amanda: So as you can imagine backstage, we were literally shaking; no one would speak for fear of what might actually come out, it might not be words, but something else.

T-Ray: And we know Bajans are a very tough crowd, we know London’s a tough crowd but Bajans are ever harder.

Barry: They were like impress me, what can you do for me?

Amanda: After the show, just to put the cherry on top we met Rihanna, she had been watching us from the stand and said that we made her really proud, and that she really enjoyed the show and to just keep doing what we do, so that was really special for us.

Did she give you any advice at all?

Amanda: Yeah she said to just enjoy it as well, she just said to have fun, I think that’s her life rule anyway.

Take a listen to full interview below… 

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