Greg Price is a man on a mission. Also known as Layabout, the vocalist and bass guitarist from South London is making music for a new generation. With co songwriter Pharaoh Black and vocalist Robyn a new genre is being created in a place steeped in the history of some of the most famous Pirates. Punk Reggae is a genre that takes the legacy of Jamaica’s rich history of trade and anarchy and unleashes it in musical form. Not trying to be anything old but with respect of the past, not trying to be something other than a new music for an ever changing world but forged in the culture of Jamaica but with a hint of South London swagger. I was lucky enough to chat to bassist and co creator of Layabout Black about this new adventure and found him to be knowledgeable, hopeful and creative. A polite savage making music to transport you to a different place. Enjoy.
EP: So Greg, if someone had never listened to Layabout how would you describe the music?
GP: Avant-garde, passionate, contrasting music featuring transitions from rough and direct to haunting and poignant.
EP: So “to be a better man, I’m gonna cut my hair and change my name” from ‘stuck in a rusty cage’. Is that autobiographical? How did a guy from South London end up in Port Royal, Jamaica?
GP: ‘Rusty Cage’ is about both selfishness and improving yourself for selfless reasons. Despite not actually getting a haircut that morning for the video, those chorus lines are about me.
I was born in Jamaica, of dual nationality. I was a national footballer for Jamaica u-17 and later an academy player for Sutton United before becoming a Red Stripe Premier League goalkeeper at a club near to Port Royal.
EP: Your singles to date have really been very different. Is that a conscious effort to not put yourself in any particular genre?
GP: Yes, and also for experimentation, which then lead to a collaboration with Black Pharaoh, whom I met whilst training at a modelling agency. Together, along with drumming/engineering alchemist Jeremy Ashbourne and a recording studio appearance from the ‘man of no rank’ and lead guitarist Omar Francis, we crafted Punk-Reggae music, our new and original genre.
EP: How has the pandemic affected life in Jamaica and music plans for last year?
GP: Jamaica has withstood the virus thus far, possibly due to the ongoing nightly curfews which have left live music at a standstill. It prohibited Layabout gigs, but on a positive note allowed me time to think, record songs with music videos and gather additional members for the band.
EP: Do you have plans to tour your music or are you waiting to see when normal life returns to the work of music?
GP: The internet is our international tour for the time being. A social media executive predicted that video will soon be the core of the internet and we have recorded music videos for each song to entertain, relate stories and stay ahead of the game.
EP: There is a very cool hip flask in your video for ‘Punk Reggae’. Is there a story behind the hip flask or is it simply cool merchandise? After all it’s always spiced rum in my hip flask haha!
GP: Chopping open coconuts by the seaside, requires rum, and the flask fits into my denim jacket’s inner pocket nicely. It was a gift from my mother, with Layabout written in bold, and lower down Gregor Price aka Polite Savage, a name given to me by friends in Sint Maarten which I may use as a stage name from here on.
EP: What would you say are your musical influences?
GP: This might be wordy but, atmospheric, passionate music, such as the mellotron and drums defining ‘In the Wake of Poseidon’ by King Crimson or the looped bassline and haunting keyboard in Pink Floyd’s ‘Careful with that Axe Eugene’. These are mournful and penetrating sounds which are simple but effective in nature and influence my rhythmic and melodic angles.
Pete Sinfield, the King Crimson lyricist, inspires song writing about worlds in other dimensions somehow bearing uncanny resemblances to our own. Looking at life from the other side of the spectrum in our 3D reality, Martin Gore’s lyrics for Depeche Mode hit much closer to home as a human being who has desires and urges in life and strives to get them, even if they may be deemed socially unacceptable to some, where as punk groups like the Pistols and Siouxsie never took themselves too seriously. This is my latest realization and is my reasoning for a shift in musical style.
Toni Iommi’s lead guitar work, Cliff Burton’s denim jacket, stage presence and lead guitar-esque bass style as well as Simon Gallup’s punchy and minimalistic bass guitar. Sade Adu’s class and sophistication makes her beautiful in layers. Peter Gabriel era Genesis in the song ‘Get em out by Friday’ contrasts upbeat and fast art rock with contrasting poignant transitions.
Lastly, Linkin Park proved that genres don’t need to be separate and all music can and perhaps now, should be infused if you enjoy them, just like Punk-Reggae.
EP: If our readers want to interact with your music, what’s the best way to get involved?
GP: On our official What’s App +1 (876) 540-8312 or at Layaboutblack.com our website which includes free streaming of music videos and their audio versions on the homepage, updates, the timeline of the band being written in the present and more.
EP: How have you managed to stay in touch with fans, family etc during the various travel lockdowns?
GP: I’m currently stuck in UK lockdown with family and have stayed in touch with supporters over social media. Outdoors in England is a no go, but when the border reopens and I return to Jamaica, living a near normal life is still possible.
EP: What does the future hold for Layabout?
GP: In the future we plan a collaborative name change to Layabout Black, live Punk-Reggae music featuring Robyn and Black Pharaoh on vocals, Polite Savage on bass and a lead guitarist/keyboardist. A new single, ‘Oona’, is currently being mixed and mastered by Jeremy Ashbourne. It’s style will be similar to ‘Stuck in a Rusty Cage’, but featuring my guitar variations. We are experimenting and expect to have a great time along the way.