BILLY Rowan, a.k.a. The Undercover Hippy, is definitely not your average singer songwriter. His music brings together soulful vocals, infectious reggae rhythms, and the lyrical delivery of a skilled mc. After seven years spent DJ’ing and MC’ing on the Drum & Bass circuit, Billy swapped the decks for a guitar and started out as a solo act in 2007. He now plays with a full band, mixing guitars, keys, drums, bass, horns and backing vocals to create a high energy, interactive and highly entertaining live show.
Combining intelligent, amusing, and often politically charged lyrics with dangerously catchy hooks and a feel good groove, this is music for the thinking man to shake his arse to. Think Jason Mraz meets The Cat Empire… on a protest march… at the Edinburgh Fringe. Renowned for the electric atmosphere of their live shows, Billy and his band have performed at some of the UK’s best festivals, including Glastonbury, Boomtown Fair, Shambala, Green Man, The Secret Garden Party, Ireland’s Electric Picnic, and many more. As their last album Monkey Suit, released in late 2014, continued to clock up over a million streams and sales, the band have been touring relentlessly, with over 80 shows and festival appearances across the UK and Europe each year. Highlights have included headlining alongside The Cat Empire, Grandmaster Flash and The Skints at Eden Festival in Scotland, playing to 1000’s of festival goers at Buskers Bern in Austria, and making a much anticipated debut appearance to a 2000 strong crowd at Boomtown Fair near Winchester.
In November 2016, the band took a step back from touring to focus on recording the new album “Truth & Fiction”. Working with producer and engineer Dean Forrest (Backbeat Soundsystem, Easy Star Records) at Cube Studios in Cornwall, they laid down the groundwork for what looks to be their most accomplished piece of work to date. Since then, Billy has been locked away in his studio, writing and developing the recordings into finished songs, before finally working with grammy nominated mix engineer Dean Barratt (Natty, Shy FX, Anoushkar Shankar) to mix the tracks and really bring them to life. One of Billy’s biggest strengths is the way he manages to pack his songs full of political and social commentary, whilst at the same time remaining playful and uplifting, and in this respect the new album does not disappoint. Covering topics from fake news, internet privacy and the U.S. election, to nappy wearing barristers and best friends trying to snog your mum, this album once again takes you on a rollercoaster of storytelling and thought provoking protest pieces.
The Undercover Hippy play at Exeter Phoenix on Sunday, May 7th, 8pm. Tickets are £10/£8, available online at www.exeterphoenix.org.uk or by calling 01392 667080.