When Bourdain visits Lagos he scores a sit-down with local record collector and music label owner Temitope Kogbe, who introduces him to the world of Nigerian psych rock. Bourdain clearly falls for the genre on-screen, shaking his head and saying, “This is freaky.” Kogbe takes Bourdain through some of the key aspects of psych rock in Nigeria but, as he says on the show, it all really started with Blo—a group that was comprised of guitarist Berkely “Ike” Jones, bassist Mike Odomusu, and drummer Laolu Akintobi. The haunting, rhythmic song “Chant to Mother Earth” from the band’s 1973 album “Blo: Chapter One,” plays on the episode. Explore Parts Unknown’s Kaylee Hammonds was lucky enough to chat with guitarist Jones about the song from his home in Nigeria.
Kaylee Hammonds: Can you tell me about what inspired you to write this song?
Jones: (laughs) Inspiration for the song. Well, you must remember that we wrote this song years ago. It was inspired by the times that you do a chant to mother earth, which is Africa, which is our homeland. You invoke the spirit of the gods of the land and ask them to open up a way for to…excel if you like. It was the bassist [Odomusu] who wrote the song.
Hammonds: So you had a starting point—how did the song come together once everyone in the band was involved?
Jones: Everybody had an influence yes, everybody will put one or two things into it. It was a three man band, and for us it was more or less a divine inspiration, the things that we did at that time—it was just coming, it just came, and then we put out the song. In the studio we were pouring our hearts out, that is to say, putting everything that we had in it, to make sure that it all gelled together. In the end I think it came out very well.
Hammonds: What groups were you all were inspired by at the time?
Jones: Osibisa, at the time, the band was very big; they were making waves everywhere. For me, I loved Led Zeppelin—I was more of a rock guitar player—and a number of the English rock groups of course.
Hammonds: Are there any other influences that you can cite that went into the production of “Chant to Mother Earth”?
Jones: No, no—nothing. Listen, when you want to do anything and you put your mind to it you get some kind of divine inspiration. Something does come to you, sometimes you sleep, and then you wake up and it’s all about music and you wake up and you put it down, it just comes, you know, that’s the way it happened. One doesn’t just say, “oh, I’m gonna write a song like this.” It doesn’t happen that way, it’s inspirational, it’s divine, it’s a gift.
Hammonds: So these days, are you guys still in contact? Do you hang out?
Jones: (laughs) We are too old to hang out. No, we are still friends, by the way, even though our children are all grown now. We are like brothers in a way, one soul in three bodies. We banded together because we were young and we knew what we wanted to do and it was fun for us.