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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week - Swamphouse
Monday, August 10, 2009

I am a firm believer that everybody needs a little funk in their lives. This is why when I first heard Swamphouse’s The Fade EP it brought both a smile to my face and movement to my feet. The eight man group from Los Angeles knows how to crank out the funk and they do it with aplomb. The Swamphouse team consists of (back row L to R) rapper Pause, piano player TunaButter, who likes to say he’s “funky like tuna, smooth like butter,” bassist Mike aka DJ Navi, trumpet player Forrest aka Forrest Trump, (front row L to R) singer Devin, trombone player Nick T, guitarist Jmfs and drummer Blewfoot. This week I caught up with the majority of the group to find out more about their music, what makes funk so special, and how a Polish beer company inadvertently helped set the stage for one of the most interesting nights of their lives.

Adam Bernard: Start everyone off by talking a bit about the music of Swamphouse. For someone who’s never heard a Swamphouse record, describe the sound they’ll hear and the vibe they’ll get when they put one on.
Pause: Swamphouse is the secret love child between the son of Tupac and Tower of Power and the daughter of Jamiroquai and George Clinton.

Adam Bernard: What aspects of Swamphouse do you feel people will connect with most?
DJ Navi: I think when people hear Swamphouse it’s easy to connect with the feel good vibe. We make upbeat, funky, Hip-Hop, soul pop jams that I honestly can't help but bob my head to. It's hard not to like music that reverberates in your soul.
Pause: There really are so many aspects that appeal to so many different people. There have been multiple times that we have been playing at a festival and after we’re done, as I'm meandering around in the crowd, a younger kid will spot me and walk up with his mother, or even grandma, and I end up jabbering on with his grandma about old school tunes. A lot of times I end up getting the feeling that the grandma dug the show even more than the grandson. I always joke that I'm gonna make t-shirts that read "Swamphouse - your grandma loves us."

Adam Bernard: Make it happen! Speaking of making things happen, you’re in a position to help funk make a comeback. Do you feel you have any peers in your own generation, or do you mostly see yourself as an extension of the George Clintons of the world?
Nick T: A little of both, really. We all have our roots in various kinds of music like jazz, soul, gospel, R&B, Hip-Hop, etc., so to say that we're not an extension of our mentors and the people that we grew up listening to would be a lie. But, on the other hand, we're taking our eight different styles and creating something that is new and unique. We're combining new technology and ideas with some of the old classic styles to create something that I feel most of the world can really dig.
TunaButter: We occasionally drew comparisons when this lineup was starting out (Swamphouse is on their second lineup) to live Hip-Hop acts such as The Roots or Gym Class Heroes, as far as contemporary acts go. However, I haven't caught on to anything yet that compares to the current sound that we've developed. We are a fusion of each individual’s influences and playing style and considering that there are eight of us, that's a lot of elements that we've managed to effectively mix into a tangible presentation. In that sense, as that’s what George Clinton did with his various projects, I would say that we are in that spirit of what George has done and hopefully one day those founders of funk will be happy to claim us as part of that community, as well.

Adam Bernard: What does funk music provide that no other genre can?
Pause: Interesting question. I would say an atmosphere that actually welcomes the mix of beer and acid.
Blewfoot: Funk music is a way of life. Funk is space and you create funk out of space and that gives you time to relax, listen, and just have a good time.
TunaButter: For me funk is as ubiquitous and hard to define as soul. It gives you the rawness of rock, but also the hard hitting or slinky grooves that soul and gospel give you. At the end of the day, what matters most is the groove. I came from a Gospel church background where music has a transcendent effect on your body and mind. In the secular sense, Funk gives you that if it’s done correctly. The groove hits the gut when you hear the bass and percussive elements lock in, then you can do nothin' but shake yo stank ass.

Adam Bernard: I’m guessing your live shows are pretty crazy. Do you have any stories you can legally share about an especially wild moment or happening from a Swamphouse show?
Nick T: I'll never forget the time that we did an X Games/dirt bike style show. The stage was in-between two ramps with three dirt bike riders doing back flips and crazy tricks over us. Then there was the time we first went to Chicago to play for a Polish festival called Taste of Polonia. We got sponsored by a Polish beer company called Okocim. Awesome, right? Well, they kept wheeling in cases of this free beer. One was a pale ale and one was dark and not only were they all in tall cans, but the dark was like eight or nine percent (alcohol). So after our first show we were all just kicking it in the tent and drinking our free beer until we had to go back on stage for our second show. I don't think any of us realized the damage that had been done until we hit that stage. After the first song we all just kind of looked at each other and knew that it was going to be a rough one. Later, all sorts of crazy mishaps happened. We found an awesome bar and grill, talked shit to people, Forrest threw up in Dan's parents' car… what a great weekend and what a great beer! Go Okocim!

Adam Bernard: Sounds like a lot of potential YouTube moments. Now, before I let ya go, take 30 seconds to convince all the readers out there to pick up The Fade EP.
Nick T: If you like any kind of music from the last 40 years, even if you get down to the likes of T-Pain and Kanye West, you are going to dig this album! We've got the funky grooves, the polished sound, and the music and lyrics to back up all of the talk.
TunaButter: Our music is all about having fun and it comes across the speakers as efficiently as it does live. Holla at thine Tuna!
Blewfoot: Even the cover alone will get you {laughs}. I had my man Double K from People Under The Stairs over the other day and he looked at it and was like “yeah, that says you right there.”
Pause: And remember, your grandma will love it, too!

Related Links

Website: theswamphouse.com
MySpace: myspace.com/swamphousemusic


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:37 AM  
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