The Brand New Heavies play at The Riverside in Newcastle tonight, Mick Burgess grabs a quick chat with bassist and founder member, Andrew Levy.

What do you enjoy most about coming up to Newcastle to play?

People are a lot warmer and they like to party a lot more than people down in London who don`t let their hair down as much as up there. There’s an incredible level of energy and that`s what we love about Newcastle is that people can just let themselves go and have fun.

You have 11 studio albums to choose from. Does that make it quite a challenge to draw up a setlist for a tour?

It isn`t really. We know what the situation is. There`s 8 or 9 songs that if we don`t play then we`re in trouble. Depending on which album is out, we`ll pick and choose from that album but I always have to remind the band that if I go and see a band who`s been around for over 30 years like us and I don`t hear those songs I want to hear, I`m not going to be happy. We make sure those songs are embedded in the set. We`re lucky that we`ve got the hits and also some songs that people feel good listening to.

Your latest album TBNH came out last month. Are you pleased with the reaction it received?

I think it`s the most successful album we`ve had out since Brother Sister in 1994 so the response has been unbelievable. Deep down I know why, it is because we spent a lot of time getting it right.

You have a dazzling array of singers on the album including Beverly Knight, Siedah Garret and Angie Stone. Did you draw up a hit list of people you wanted to work with?

We realised that we had a history of using different vocalists so we thought why not play to that rather than try to hide the fact that we are quite fluid with our singers. A lot of people were reaching out to work with us. There`s a couple of songs that we wrote with N`Dea Davenport, that didn`t make a previous album, that we reworked completely that sound fantastic.

N`Dea Davenport who sang on your first album and has collaborated with you again over the years since then also performs on the album. What do you feel she brings to the music of the Brand New Heavies?

As a melody maker, she`s unbelievable and she knows our music so well. She`s not copying other singers. I`ve noticed a lot of singers sound the same at the moment but N`Dea has such an individual voice that stands out.

You also got producer Mark Ronson to work on the song These Walls. As a producer yourself, how was it working with Mark and what did you learn from him?

I`d like to say we worked in the studio together but a lot of it was done remotely. That`s how things are these days but I did learn to keep things really simple from him. The less you add to a song, the more clear and concise the song is. I think maybe less is definitely more, which I think is Mark`s thing. So, simplicity and getting a great sound is something that we learned from him.

As a bassist, the rhythm section is such an important element in the music. What drew you towards the bass when you were younger?

I want to school with Jan, our ex-drummer and we had drum lessons together. It was the time when September by Earth Wind and Fire was coming out and Le Freak by Chic was really popular and I thought that we both couldn`t play drums. We just wanted to make music and Jan`s brother gave me one of his old basses and that`s how I started around the age of 15.

Looking forward, where will you be heading after your UK tour ends?

We have a New Year`s Eve party with Craig Charles in Sheffield and our first show next year is Sofia in Bulgaria at a music festival. We`ll tour Australia in the Spring and then the US so there`s quite a bit of international travel and we might even get a new record out too.

The Brand New Heavies play at The Riverside, Newcastle tonight.