Questlove Reminisces on His Favorite Festival Moments
On Oct. 24, Lipton Tea hosted its first Be More Tea Festival in North Charleston, South Carolina’s Riverfront Park. Inspired by Lipton’s 125th anniversary celebration, the festival counted with the presence of several notable acts. Among those, American hip hop/neo soul band The Roots. In addition to live music, festival attendees enjoyed unique, Lipton tea-infused food and drinks, and play a number of Lipton-inspired games.
With the festival receiving lots of praise from the community of North Charleston, XXL chopped it up with The Roots' drummer and joint frontman, Questlove to find out how the band ended up on the first annual Be More Tea Festival, the difference between performing in front of festival crowd and intimate crowd, favorite festival moments and the upcoming projects in the works for The Roots.
How did you end up being a part of the first Be More Tea Festival?
They're celebrating their 125th anniversary and pretty much we've been doing and concentrating on festivals like the last 5-6 years of our careers due to the nature of our availability. You know festivals have always been up our alley for the last 20+ years. A lot of the acts on the show are some of my favorites like Passion Pit, St. Lucia, I really like Walk The Moon, so it was a no brainer for us to be a part of this festival.
How different is it for you guys to play in front of a festival crowd than an intimate concert?
When The Roots really first started we weren't really to aware of the idea of festivals. We started out as street buskers. We went from street busking to doing little small shows like poetry slams and things like that but it wasn't until we got our contract in '93, our agent told us like you guys should really go to Europe and stay in Europe and do every festival. We had no idea what festivals were. The Roots had moved to Europe and stayed there from like '93 to '96 and we pretty much did our living off festivals and that's how we built our fan base, so it's different that being in an intimate atmosphere because you have to project more depending on the size of the audience. You know typical festivals are somewhere between 10,000 all the way to 50,000 depending on the magnitude, so I'd say that the first few years of being The Roots was just trying to find our way to our audience. That was very important to our live development. Almost to the point now that when we are put into an intimate situation it throws us off a little bit. [Laughs]. You know festivals have always been our bread and butter and now that we aren't necessarily the touring unit that we once were you know, before the Tonight Show we were typically on the road like 250+ nights off the year, but even now with the Tonight Show festivals are all that we're pretty much able to do on weekends and on hiatus periods. That's why the timing was perfect for us to do the Lipton Tea festival and we're honored to be a part of it.
What's one of your favorite festival moments?
They're so many! Probably one of the best moment at a festival that I've ever had was in Ireland. You know, we really became good friends with Bruce Springsteen he took a liking to us sand we've played with him often so Bruce Springsteen called us on stage and we're backstage watching him and he's like "Hey Roots, come over here!" and next thing you know we're doing the E Street Shuffle with Bruce Springsteen. You know, that was pretty cool to watch. The time we were touring with Outkast, every time they did "B.O.B." it was like the recreation of New Year's Eve with all this confetti and all these gallons and stuff, so us having ballon fights on stage during that period was a fun memory, but there's been so many festival memories that I have.
Musically, what should fans expect from The Roots?
We're heavily involved in the Hamilton Broadway project, which is really, really taking a life of its own. We executive produced the cast album and there a few more albums and projects associated with Hamilton that are coming out. We're about to work on the Hamilton mixtape which we're gathering a whole bunch of MC's that follow Hamilton play and they are all getting involved in the record. Not to mention we're going to we'll be working on our 17th album as well.