Three years ago, Extra Golden's debut Ok Oyot System seemed like a stroke of luck. A hasty recording session in a tin-roofed shack between two Americans and two Kenyans yielded a great electric guitar communion between Africa and America. Surprisingly, Extra Golden is still going two albums later, even though its members still live thousands of miles apart.
"I am hoping that our Kenyan members can spend more time in the U.S.," guitarist Ian Eagelson says. "We always work under tight time constraints and I think the band could develop in new directions if we had a more normal existence. In order to play we have overcome many hurdles that bands living in the same place do not, such as immigration and travel expenses."
Their latest album Thank You Very Quickly benefits from having been recorded at the end of a three-month tour. Kenyan benga is still a big part of the band's guitar boogie, but side trips into swamp rock and Ethiopian grooves suit the band well. Most of all, the recording benefits from the mutual exchange of ideas made possible by touring.
"Performing with other bands has exposed [Kenyan members] to different ways of playing," says Eagleson. "In Kenya drummers are not lauded so much, so [drummer Onyango Wuod Omari] has seen that in a rock context he can stretch out more than providing a constant dance beat." Eagleson and Minoff in turn have learned a great deal of stagecraft from playing shows with African legends such as Baaba Maal. "One of the nice things about this band is that we can tour on traditional rock circuits but also do something like the African Soul Rebels tour. As music fans' taste and trends change all the time maybe it can help to be an anomaly and be flexible in terms of how people perceive your identity."