About Ten Millennia
There must be something in the water in Yorkshire to make God’s own country such a hotbed of good-time music. From blue-eyed soul man Robert Palmer to pop-funk pioneers ABC and most of Sade’s jazzy backing band, the White Rose county has produced more than its fair share of acts in love with a great groove. Now a new name – Ten Millennia – can be added to the list.
All six band members either live or work in the county, and the group’s name refers to the fact that some of Yorkshire’s most ancient settlements have been in existence since 8000 BC – ten millennia ago. The band’s penchant for buoyant, carefree rhythms is well established, too. Their self-titled 2017 debut album evoked the moods of the late Seventies and early Eighties, from Stevie Wonder to Shalamar, and 2018’s follow-up, Love Won’t Wait, broadens the palate by embracing Motown and blues while tipping its hat to the disco stylings of Chic and Kool & The Gang. With all of their material self-penned by keyboardist Wayne Pollock, assisted by singer Rosie, they are a welcome throwback to an era when music was perhaps less po-faced than it is now – a time when it was all about dancing to sun-kissed tunes and having a good time.
Beneath the breezy exterior, however, the sextet are serious about their music. They made their live debut eight years ago, and underwent a number of name changes before settling on Ten Millennia in 2016. They started out by playing local pubs, but have since also landed prestigious support slots with established stars. They have supported The Corrs at Kew The Music in London’s Kew Gardens and Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra in Edinburgh, Carlisle, Canterbury, Harrogate, Scarborough, York, Bridlington, Middlesborough and Brussels. For some shows, they also add a horn section and backing singers to the line-up. Things follow a similarly ambitious pattern on record, with both of their albums produced by double Grammy winner Andy Wright, whose stellar CV includes credits for Simply Red, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, Jeff Beck and Imelda May.
Drummer Julian Richer, who doubles up as the band’s manager, embodies Ten Millennia’s focus and determination. He transports and sets up his own equipment at every gig, and predicts that the band will have played a career total of 500 gigs by the end of 2018.
‘This group is a real labour of love,’ he says. ‘None of us are doing this for money or fame. We started out in Yorkshire pubs, and we know the odds are stacked against us. But, after we released our first album, we ended up being playlisted on Radio 2 – quite an achievement for an unknown act. We don’t have to play so many gigs, but we do it because we love it.’
Richer took up drumming while at school, but his passion for music lay dormant for decades until he spotted a postcard asking for ‘ageing rock and rollers’ in a shop window in Pocklington, North Yorkshire, in 2005. The ad had been placed there by a local musician called Derek, and the band that resulted from it went from playing charity gigs to more professional engagements before ill-health forced Derek to retire. By that point, though, Julian’s musical flame had been rekindled and, after he played briefly with a jazz trio, the current Ten Millennia line-up began to take shape, with Derek’s musical spirit an ongoing inspiration.
Yorkshire-raised Rosie, a former middle distance athletics champion who worked as a fashion model in London before launching her music career, came in as singer, her creamy voice and sunny disposition helping her to overcome an initial reluctance to take centre stage. Keyboardist Wayne, a classically trained musician who has played with Take That, Martha Reeves and Corinne Bailey Rae, arrived as musical director, with versatile blues, funk and rock guitarist Richard Jevons, bassist Colin Sutton and saxophonist Russell Henderson completing the line-up alongside Julian, whose drumming technique was honed by sessions with acclaimed German rock, jazz and funk player Benny Greb.
Ten Millennia’s first single, Turn Me On, arrived alongside their self-titled debut album in July 2017. Recorded in Melrose Yard Studios, York, and finessed by Andy Wright in London, the album blended feel-good love songs with droll Yorkshire humour. Released on their own RP&M label, it reached number 12 in the Official Independent Albums Chart, rubbing shoulders with releases by Adele and Radiohead. In Andy Wright, too, the band found their perfect foil. Having emerged alongside Alan Moulder, Flood and Mark ‘Spike’ Stent as part of a wave of world-class UK record producers in the Eighties, the producer and programmer is an eclectic all-rounder. In addition to contributing to Massive Attack’s Protection, working on every Simply Red and Mick Hucknall release from 1995’s Life onwards and producing two Grammy-winning albums for Jeff Beck, he has an impressive track record of collaborating with pop acts, such as S Club 7 and Atomic Kitten, and female vocalists, making him ideal for Ten Millennia. When the band began their second album in 2018, he was involved from the start.
That album, Love Won’t Wait, was released on August 17th, 2018 and marks a significant leap forward, its ten new songs whittled down from a longer list to ensure quality control. Made once again in Yorkshire, it is stronger, more tightly crafted and harder to pigeonhole than its promising predecessor, with the writing team of Wayne and Rosie now more assured in their creative partnership. The basics put in place in 2017 all remain, however, with the title track driven by funky grooves that echo Kool & The Gang and the live-for-the-moment anthem Enjoy The Good Times underpinned by strings and guitarist Richard’s wah-wah effects. Elsewhere, there are hints of Chic on Look Around, nods to Motown on the yearning lead single, Twenty Minutes and a British spin on vintage American disco on the keyboard-dominated Heart Beat. The band have also experimented with arrangements this time: Hideaway is a brassy pop number that wastes little time, just 30 seconds, before hitting an indelible chorus; Invisible is a heartfelt piano ballad that offers an intriguing contrast to the blithe-spirited, up-tempo material that otherwise dominates.