Graham Reid | | 3 min read
Of their unusual name, lead singer Wade Schuman says “HAZMAT is an American English word for Hazardous Materials, AKA dangerous materials, you see it on the sides of trucks or special trashcans.
"MODINE is the brand name for an industrial forced air heater unit, the kind that hangs down in garages and artists’ lofts … the company is in Muncie Indiana … they are both American words, but the sound of them together is rather exotic.
"People often think HAZMAT is Turkish. I thought Modine sounded a bit like a 1950s rock n roll band.”
He also says this is an appropriate name for the band since they "blow a lot of hot air," including harmonicas, tubas and saxophones.
Hazmat Modine is a maverick blues/folk/world fusion/jazz band from New York, founded in the late 1990s.
Drawing from the rich soil of American music of the Twenties to the Sixties and blending elements of early blues, hokum jugband, swing, Klezmer, New Orleans R&B and Jamaican rocksteady, the band is fronted by two harmonicas which use call and response, harmony, melody and syncopated interweaving rhythms.
The band includes tuba, guitar and percussion, claviola and Hawaiian steel guitar.
Hazmat Modine’s sounds reflects musical influences ranging from avant-garde jazz to rockabilly and Western swing, to Middle Eastern, African and Hawaiian musical styles.
So right at home at this year's Taranaki Womad (see dates below).
Timely then for singer and multi-instrumentalist Wade Schuman to answer our Famous Elsewhere World Music Questionnaire . . .
The first musician whose music really affected you was . . .
My Brother… He was seven years older and he played Fiddle, Banjo, Guitar, Accordion and Piano.
Your first appearance on stage before an audience was . . . (And you were how old?)
As an actor in fourth grade in the play ”The Monster Museum of Midville” I was Count Dracula.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
I do have two other careers as well, as a painter and as a teacher…if I had other choices I would also like to be a zoologist and an art historian.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are so emotionally moving are . . .
Long, Long, Long, by the Beatles
James Alley Blues by Richard “Rabbit” Brown
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Anything by Abdel Gardir Salim
The most unusual place you have performed would be . . .?
Not sure, Siberia? Borneo? On an island in a lake in a garden in a thunderstorm storm in Italy? So many choices…
The most important book you have read is . . .? And why?
Oh that is hard… perhaps Man & Beast, a Visual History by Jacques Boudet
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
Do they have to be alive? If not, then Ali Farka Toure
If they have to be alive it would be Abdel Abdir Salim. I would play harmonica of course to anything they wanted!
The three films you'd like anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Time of the Gypsies by Emir Kusturica
Andrei Rublev by Andrei Tarkovsky
Duck Soup by the Marx Brothers
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The last CD, vinyl album or download you bought was . . .
The Bright Mississippi by Allen Toussaint
When you travel, what is it you most miss about your home country?
American diners and the islands in Maine…
The artist you most admire would be . . .
That is impossible to say - there are so many living and dead! Visual and Musical!
Your favourite meal to share with friends would be . . .? (Care to share a simple recipe?)
Breakfast at a good American diner… or Burmese Khao Swe that that I make, it is a family recipe that my grandmother brought back from Burma in the Thirties. I’s a special coconut Curry Noodle soup that has been passed down and transmogrified by my family
Do you practice every day, and if so for how long?
No, I wish I could!
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” If that were true, you would spend them where, doing . . .?
I would be in Maine on a small island, or in Indonesia in the jungle. living, painting and playing music.
And finally, do you have any unrealised goals in music?
Many! I want to write so very many more songs, get better at the instruments I do play and to learn to play some more, I want to keep collaborating with musicians from around the world, I want to go back and play again in Borneo and other places in Asia and in Siberia and Russia…
I want to record more CDs, and I want to finish the collaboration we started with Gangbe Brass band and record the album in Benin. And I want to record something with bassoon. There are so many things to do!