Interview by Hayley Clark with Photos by Bianca Barrett

In the backstage area of Oxford’s Common People Festival we had the delight to catch up with the legends that are Tony Mosley, Damon Dickson, Sonny Thompson of The New Power Generation and the newest member to join the ‘Celebrate Prince’ legacy shows Mackenzie Green making his debut in the UK this weekend.

Having being brought together for the Excel centre tribute in October 2016 by musical director and NPG keyboardist Morris Hayes the band formed the ‘Celebrate Prince’ reunion shows, bringing both former band members spanning the 23 years of the New Power Generation before 3rdeyegirl joined the icon on tour and members of the NPG alumni of artists and associates who inspire to carry on the legacy and keep the music alive for a new generation.

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So while Boney M performed, the Gig Junkies team managed a bit of a pow wow circle to have a quick chat with these delightful guys and their fantastic manager Jill.

HC. So guys, welcome to the UK, what’s it like being back here and are you enjoy yourselves?

Tony. We love it, we always love it here. I think it’s this younguns first time but we’ve been here plenty of times and it’s always enjoyable.

Tony acknowledged Mackenzie’s UK debut at the festival, having previously only performed in the States and Australia with the band as the guys smiled and Mackenzie nodded.

HC. Keeping the legacy alive is extremely important to you, how do you pick the new members of the generation to join you in creating the legacy onstage, how did you pick Mackenzie?

Tony. Very carefully actually, it’s all very funny as I think Jill was on YouTube and happened to see the footage of this young cat.

Jill. I went looking for him.

Tony. She sent a video to the band, and we were like okay, but you never know because it’s a different setting but the first time he came to rehearsal, I think he was probably 3 notes into a song and we look to each other…

Damon. And we knew.

Tony. It’s over! That boy’s got vocals but he’s him, he’s not trying to be Prince, he’s not being anything but himself and that was the most important thing to us. You get lots of bands out there that are forming and they’re trying to find imitators or people close as they can and that’s not what we are doing. You let the music speak for itself.

HC. And it makes it more genuine for the fans too?

Tony. Absolutely.

Damon. There is only one.

HC. So here at Gig Junkies it’s all about the gigs and live music, what do you guys class is your most memorable gig or moment that really stood out for you?

After laughter over the number of years the band have played live for, Tony was the first to get started, he works the interview like a chat show host you could listen to for hours.

Tony. For me, I’m probably gonna say The Rock in Rio probably for the sheer mass of the crowd. There was probably 100,000 people, when you come out from doing shows or intimate club shows and you come out to a sea of people like that, it’s a little overwhelming.

Damon quickly chips in. Especially at that particular time when we are young and in our early stages of our career.

Jill. It was 200,000.

Damon. I’m going to have to say our show at Rotterdam, when it rained. We thought first time out with it raining and the first night of the show, he’s going to cut it off, I’m not going to do it and he’s like yeah we’re on and we’re okay, be careful. because we’re doing split kicks coming off these ramps and the rain’s coming down… All I remember is sliding to the edge of the stage and catching him like this and then looking over at Tony and Tony’s like…

(laughing)

That would be one of the ones I would say. For a perfectionist he wouldn’t just stop a show regardless of what the weather was.

Jill. That was the opening night of the Nude Tour and the promotors called the show early that night because of the weather.

Tony. That’s right.

Sonny. I think Wembley, we did a gig at Wembley stadium one year and that one was crazy. Because once you stop playing you heard Dunn err Dunn errr.

Tony. The echo.

Sonny. With so many stages, so many people there as far as you can see. I was looking at him and he was looking at me, like ‘Okay Man’ that was crazy.

Mackenzie. I would have to say my first show. It was negative twenty, even though it was freezing cold I had a moment of looking around like woah I’m on stage with The New Power Generation and I saw these smiles when I looked back so yeah that was my favourite.

Sonny. Boy you killed that show.

Mackenzie. Thank you

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HC. Referencing the various studios in which the band rehearsed in, one of the band’s fans asked us to ask how the rehearsals compared to those at Paisley Park and now at other venues.

Tony. We currently have a new studio, Runway Studio, the old Flyte time, and we’re a close more controlled environment so we can get done what we need to do and focus.

HC. Do you spend as long there as you did at Paisley where rumours said you’d be there jamming all night, do you still do the same?

Tony. Not quite that but again it’s a chance for more creativity, more collaboration and as we finish up between here and when we come back for the O2 gigs we’ll be getting some recording in, so new stuff coming.

HC. Excitedly hearing new music was coming we couldn’t resist asking if their was anything out of the Infamous Paisley Park Vaults?

Tony. The Vaults? We can’t go there.

HC. Apart from this weekend’s gigs you’re also on at All Together Festival in Ireland. Is there any other plans fans should know about for surprise festival appearances?

Jill. We have O2 London on 2nd, nothing on the 3rd, 4th is Stimmen in Switzerland/Germany border, 5th is All Together, then Amsterdam Paradiso and Tilburg and then Belgium, and they are still filling in some others.

Tony. There’s shows in Milwaukee in the states too.

HC. Before we go, Is there any songs you really enjoy performing live?

Sonny. Deuce and a Quarter, Sexy MF, Daddy Pop, Diamonds and Pearls you name it I like all of them.

Tony. Deuce, Call The Law.

Jill. Mackenzie is performing The Cross tonight, it hasn’t been on the setlist before.

Tony. He does an incredible job.

Damon. I’m looking forward to that.

Tony. So which show did you come to, were you at Nells? I gotta give it too the crowd at Nells, that was brutal wasn’t it? It was the hottest show. It was like 100 degrees in there, Kirk had to stop almost three quarters of the show he just got up as he needed to feel some of the fans. That wasn’t part of the show, he was about to pass out back there that’s how hot it was!.

They came to party too and knew every word for word and were trying to get him (Mackenzie) ready as it’s a whole different deal here, they’re ready they understand and they know.

New Power Generation. Celebrate Prince comes back to the UK August 2nd at London’s O2 Indigo arena. If you haven’t got tickets then after two stunning shows this weekend both in Oxford and Southampton it’s not gonna be a summer without seeing them live. Tickets are available from the venue box office.

Read Hayley’s review of Day One of Common People Festival including NPG’s live performance.

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One Response to “Gig Junkies Chat with The New Power Generation at Common People Festival”

  1. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » The New Power Generation To Play Indigo at London’s O2 Arena Says:

    […] had the pleasure to speak to members of the band at Common People. Tony M revealed how after the first couple of chords in rehearsal they knew he was right for the […]

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