By Dylan Bryant (Music Editor)

Since its inception in the late 70s, Pizza Express have presented over 50,000 incredible live shows at the historic Pizza Express Jazz club in Soho, including performances from Amy Winehouse, Ed Sheeran, Van Morrison and many more.

Now, Pizza Express have launched their own record label in conjunction with their live music arm – PizzaExpress Live. PX Records will release albums from both new and established artists of the Jazz and soul scene, alongside a selection of music from their extensive archive of PizzaExpress Live recordings. 

The first release comes from globally acclaimed UK soul-pop outfit Mamas Gun.  The release marks their very first live album, a 13-track set recorded at PizzaExpress Live in Soho in 2022. 

Formed in 2009, Mamas Gun have grown an impressive reputation as an incredible live act, whose unique sound that blends funk, soul and blues with pop is loved by fans across the globe. The band’s first four albums have spawned top 10 hits on four continents, including a number 1 single in Japan and top 10 airplay positions in the UK and across Europe. 

I spoke to Mamas Gun lead singer Andy Platts about the release and more;

You’ve got a reputation for being a great live act, but this is your first ever live album! – How excited are you to be releasing the project? 

“It’s great to finally have a document of what we do on the live stage. An intimate jazz club might not necessarily be the kind of venue we would tend to play but on the night, we definitely embraced the intimacy of the setting and connected with the crowd. All of which you can hear on record as it happened!”

Why did now feel like the right time to release a live record? 

“To be honest we were contemplating doing a live record at some point, but probably across a number of shows on a whole tour as opposed to exclusively on one night but PX came along at the right time, and everything soon came together after that.”

The first single ‘You Make My Life A Better Place’ is one of my favourite tracks – it’s such a beautiful song and it’s so great hearing the live version. How do you feel live recordings add to the production of your tracks? 

“They give the listener another angle to the music, to the songwriting, the playing and the personality of the band – which helps to paint a more 3d picture of a group. If captured well, and if cylinders are firing right on the night, a live album can easily surpass much of an artists recorded studio output.”

Since its inception in the late 70’s, Pizza Express have presented over 50,000 shows including Amy Winehouse, Ed Sheeran, Van Morrison, Brian May etc – How does it feel to be amongst those names and to be one of the first releases under their new label? 

“It’s a fantastic association. Like any prestigious/heritage label there’s a rich history of world class acts coming through the PizzaExpress doors over the years so we’re incredibly flattered to have been considered in the same breath.”

What’s your favourite live record by another artist, and why? 

“Two of my favourite live records; Live & Direct by Aswad recorded in 1983 in London. The other is Aretha Franklin live at Fillmore West, captured in California in 1971. The vibe, the energy, the passion, and goosebumps are all in abundance. Across the band some more submissions: Bill Withers at Carnegie Hall, Frank Sinatra at The Sands.”

Your music has such a great sound that blends various genres with both classic and contemporary influences – Who are some of the artists that inspire you personally? 

“This question ha! The list is endless but Shuggie Otis, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Lennon/McCartney, Donald Fagen, Joni Mitchell, Scott Walker, Isley Brothers, Lewis Taylor, Prince.” 

How does the song writing process tend to happen – how do you collaborate with the other band members? 

“Currently the pure songwriting tends to come from me but after that the process of arrangement, creating parts, production etc is incredibly collaborative. We are all interested in an idea being its best possible version.”

Do you re-arrange any of the tracks for live shows, and can we expect to hear any new arrangements on the Album? 

“Yes, we do that quite a lot! Studio and live are completely different disciplines so there is always a lot of scope to bring songs to life in a more inclusive, communal way. We love to involve the crowd so arranging songs for live is a big part of what we do.”

Following the release of the album, you play your biggest UK headline show to date at Islington Assembly Hall on April 29th – How excited are you for this show and have you got anything special planned for it? 

“It’s very exciting indeed and there’s some sense of vindication that we’ve just kept to what we’ve wanted to do and not compromised on our music – and now it’s paying dividends. You always want to reach as many people as possible so this will be a fantastic celebration for us.” 

You’ve toured all over the world. What has been your favourite place to perform and why? 

“You can’t beat a home crowd in London singing at the top of their lungs but some of my favourite shows have been in near and far-flung places such as Paris, Los Angeles and Seoul – all because the spirit and joy of the people in attendance was almost tangible.”

As your live record is one of the first releases for the Pizza Express Record Label, PX Records, I have to ask – what is your favourite pizza topping? 

“Personally, I like a Diavolo for some spicy action!”

Mamas Gun at PizzaExpress Live in London released on PX Records, April 14th

Categories: Music

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