Rich Atkinson & The New Billionaires are a Shaftesbury-based duo featuring Rich Atkinson on Vocals/Guitar along with his constant touring sidekick Richard Quintin on Tenor Sax. The band has recently been getting out and about with a string of great live performances across the region including a very memorable gig for “Live & Heard” at Lighthouse Poole. The band has just released their debut 5-track EP, which features a host of ‘session friends’ who joined the two Rich’s in the studio to help bring their creations to life. The EP contains 5 tracks recorded at two different sessions at Urchin Studios in Hackney & Hackney Wick. A former bandmate Matt Ingram oversaw the session, multi-tasking by running the desk and also playing drums on both sessions. The sessions also featured Andy East on piano, Paul Miche on piano and Georgie Rodriguez on bass/backing vocals.

Rich Atkinson & The New Billionaires

Rich takes us through some of the background of each track:

1 Love Is A Beautiful and Terrible Thing.
Is the story of a guy who has to return to his girlfriend’s porch to pick up a box of his belongings, the same porch where he and his girlfriend spent so much time falling in love.

2 A postcard From the Ocean.
Is about leaving small town. In 1989 I left Salisbury, moving to Hollywood, California, arriving in Hollywood as like “landing on Mars”. The song is about having the courage of leaving what you know and stepping out. The protagonist in this story sends a postcard home to the ‘naysayers’ to let them know he arrived ‘safe and sound’. Another element in this yarn is a story I heard from Africa about a bunch of school kids living far inland in South Africa who didn’t believe that the ocean was real. So their teacher got a minibus and drove them to the ocean to prove that it was real.

3 Is It Raining Where You are Too?
Is a ‘break-up song’ with the protagonist still hurting but wondering whether his girlfriend/wife is missing their relationship too?

4 Key to Life
This is my attempt at writing a Disney/Sherman Brothers classic tune along the lines of those brilliant Jungle Book tunes or Randy Newman’s Toy Story tunes.

5 Beauty in Ruins
Deals with the decay and dereliction of ‘The Rust Belt’ in the U.S.A and how once-thriving communities are now Ghost Towns, opulent theatres, and neighbourhoods that were once full of people are now decaying and empty. Street artists and Mother Nature are reclaiming the space.

The opening number “Love Is A Beautiful and Terrible Thing” showcases Rich’s unmistakable vocal, which is delivered with a style not unlike Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and in some places, it could be said it reminds me of some of The Pogues later material; particularly the “Peace & Love” era. This vocal is accompanied by a beautiful combination of piano, tenor sax, and understated guitars with gentle but effective rhythms. There is a real depth to the tune and it brings together a host of unique electric influences.

The next tune “A Postcard From The Ocean” is quite different from the first with it kicking off with a nautical Tenor Sax reminding me of “The Beautiful Briny”; the childhood classic “Bedknobs & Broomsticks”, another tune with an oceanic theme. Rich’s voice once again excels and drifts along telling the story with the dominating Sax, coupled with more light Jazz-infused infectious rhythms. “Is It Raining Where You Are Too?” Rich describes it as “it’s like a horse that suddenly joins a race after the race has already started and it suddenly goes on to win, this was such a song.” “The title came from a question that I often ask my daughter (who lives in London) when it’s raining in my hometown of Shaftesbury. It’s a sad tune about loss, with the music laying down the atmosphere with Rich Quintin’s atmospheric Tenor Sax and Rich A’s passionate vocal delivery.

“Key to Life” is up tempo uplifting tune, with a unique take of this beautifully brought together Disney-influenced creation. The light rhythms coupled with the piano and the ever-present sax, which the constant vein is running through all these tracks. The final track of this collection is a wonderfully descriptive attempt to describe decay and dereliction of many parts of the U.S.A. Rich A excels himself with some really majestic vocal that meanders over the light accompaniments to deliver something quite special.

As well as being a totally gifted artist and also an amazingly humble guy Rich Atkinson along with his collective of friends make some seriously distinctive music that deserves to be heard by much larger audiences. If you get the chance to see them perform in a proper music venue, where the audience respects the artist with the silence they deserve. You would be in for a real treat and you would get a performance you will never forget.


Article by David Chinery (Chinners)

Rich Atkinson & The New Billionaires