Dumpstaphunk: Stankier Than The Rest

Listen to Dumpstaphunk on MySpace..

By: Dennis Cook

Dumpstaphunk
Travel back with me to a Saturday at Bonnaroo in 2006. It's 3 a.m. and everyone is bleary and bruised, chemically shaken and stirred, as the late night sets begin to wrap up. But one stage is just getting cooking. An undulating soul python is winding its way through our legs, spitting venom into our veins, inspiring us to shout, "I'm funky like a UFO," at the top of our lungs. Dumpstaphunk erased all weariness, replacing it with hip grease and lacerating rock fury. Not since vintage recordings of Funkadelic had I heard anything quite like them, and in one fell swoop under the Tennessee stars they made a fan for life.

"We were trying to decide what to call this band and I'd recently written a song with my two younger brothers called 'Dumpstaphunk.' I was thinking of what's stinkier or nastier than a dumpster? Not much," offers keyboardist-singer-bandleader Ivan Neville.

While most contemporary funk is really clean, at its best funk should be dirty, even vaguely unwholesome. "Exactly! We've been very nasty since our first show at Jazz Fest," enthuses Ivan. "The chemistry of this combination is amazing. We all like to listen to one another. We're fans of each other, which makes it fun playing. I love playing on stage but I also love listening to these guys! I like to stop playing and just sit there on the stool and listen. These guys are bad!"

Formed in New Orleans in 2003, Dumpstaphunk oozes righteous anger but never forgets to get your backfield in motion. You might not even realize you're shouting protest anthems and freedom songs but your body feels it on a cellular level. It's a party that celebrates being alive even though the world is a mess.

Dumpstaphunk
"There's five songs on the Listen Hear EP [released on their own DP Records earlier this year], which is our first studio recording. There's been a lot of live stuff that'd surfaced but we laid down about 13 tracks before Jazz Fest last year," Ivan says. "I told them, 'I don't want to have anything rehearsed or mapped out. I just want to go in there and press record.' It's almost like when we start we've been playing for five minutes already! Bam! Probably my favorite [on the EP] is 'Meanwhile...' which I believe is the first take of that song. It was so nasty and it had a vibe about it that we said, 'That's it!' The idea is if we have the opportunity to say something then we should use it. So, we were a little angry about the Hurricane [Katrina] and the state of affairs in this country but MEANWHILE shake your booty! All this stuff's going on but in the meantime have a good time. There's a lot of serious issues but I've learned to not take myself so seriously. I insist on having a good time."

One is always on shaky ground when talking politics in music. There'll always be someone who disagrees with your viewpoint but you can usually get the majority of folks onto a dance floor. It takes a Sly intellect to do both things simultaneously but Dumpstaphunk is steadily growing into the natural successor to vintage Funkadelic. This is a group that truly understands George Clinton's pronouncement, "Soul is a ham hock in your corn flakes." Guitarist Ian Neville, son of Art Neville and Ivan's cousin, counters quoting, "Deeper than the notion that the world was flat when it was round."

"If you go to websites where you have to pick the genres of music you like funk isn't even on there! So, I guess we're playing for that," says Ian. "Funk is an open genre like rock & roll, if you know what to look for in those realms of music. One of my favorite guitar influences that I stumbled onto after I started playing was Freddie Stone [co-founder of Sly & The Family Stone], and that was a whole other leftfield take on playing funk. They were doing their own thing and that's what I like and appreciate about it. Sly and them had a dry edge."

Continue reading for more on Dumpstaphunk...

 
We were a little angry about the Hurricane [Katrina] and the state of affairs in this country but MEANWHILE shake your booty! All this stuff's going on but in the meantime have a good time. There's a lot of serious issues but I've learned to not take myself so seriously. I insist on having a good time.

-Ivan Neville

 

"We've known each other for a long time," says Ivan, discussing the group's origins. "I thought Tony Hall [bass/guitar] was George Porter Jr.'s little cousin. I'm not sure if it's true but it's what I thought. I saw him sub for George, Leo [Nocentelli] and even Zigaboo [Modeliste] with The Original Meters years ago when I was coming up. I think Tony was originally a drummer. And Nick Daniels [bass] I've known since I was a kid. We played together in a band called the Uptown All-Stars, and he eventually started playing with the Nevilles. Both of those guys have played bass with the Neville Brothers. Raymond Weber [drums] played with Tony in Harry Connick Jr.'s funk band. I knew him as a New Orleans drummer but until I played with him I never knew how good he was. Ian, I've watched him for the past 10 years sit in with the Funky Meters and whatnot, learning to play guitar, and eventually he joined the Neville Brothers and we became partners in crime."

Ian Neville & Trey Anastasio
"I had the opportunity to play Jazz Fest in 2003, where I'd played on my own in the past including supporting my If My Ancestors Could See Me Now record in the late '80s. I wanted to do something different, and starting in 2001-2002 I had been playing with a lot of bands like Galactic, which were showing up at Jazz Fest," continues Ivan. "I got this idea to put together a band with my little cousin Ian on guitar, and on bass either Tony Hall or Nick Daniels. Then I thought, 'Why not call both of them?' They both play, they both sing and Tony plays guitar as well. And I called Raymond for drums and that was the nucleus of the band. I think we had the Dirty Dozen play horns with us. It took on a life of its own and we did occasional shows as it took on a life of its own. We all had other bread-and-butter gigs - I was subbing for Art Neville in the Neville Brothers after he hurt his back, and Tony was working with Dave Matthews' solo project, Tony and Ray were playing with Trey Anastasio, and Ian and Nick were also with the Neville Brothers - but they encouraged me to go deeper into Dumpstaphunk, which was originally supposed to be a side project. But when the Hurricane happened it changed a lot of things for everybody."

Despite funk's intrinsically simple core, there can be terrific complexity and variation in the hands of really skilled musicians. Dumpstaphunk has the stupid high-level skills one associates with Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson's Midnight Band or Herbie Mann's unreal assemblage on 1971's Push Push, as well as the aforementioned Family Stone and Funkadelic.

"Just by us playing it, dudes are going to play their mind," observes Ian. "Tony and Raymond, just by doing what they do, are gonna up things a little bit, give it a shot in the arm. Anytime I'm just listening on stage it's because somebody just did some crazy shit that branches out into something else. Most of the tracks on the EP were born out of soundchecks, somebody starting jams and everybody falling in. It's great that everybody in this band will grab on a lick or whatever and give it a nudge."

Ivan Neville - Dumpstaphunk by T. Voggesser
Their jams can get seriously weird, something most orthodox funk units fear or simply can't grasp. Dumpstaphunk boldly French kisses strangeness.

"If I'm soloing Raymond feeds off what I'm doing, then I'm listening to him and that dictates where I'm gonna go," says Ivan. "On any given night we can stretch in many different directions. It's what we like about the brand of funk we play: it's not contained funk, it's not metronome funk. It's funk that can go haywire sometimes."

This springboards into our mutual appreciation for mad hatter keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell, who writes elegant constructed lines but when a wild hair gets him can take off to parts unknown. "He goes in so many directions that you wonder, 'How the hell did you get away with that? I don't think that's musically correct but it sounds good.' He did some amazing stuff," waxes Ivan.

When they have both bassists going at once it's like a rough version of the two bass configurations on Andrew Hill's '60s Blue Note albums – an ocean of low-end wow that's neither cluttered or fussy.

Continue reading for more on Dumpstaphunk...

 
The way it works is Nick and Tony play different. They're both very funky, obviously, but a lot of times when Tony is playing the bottom end of the funk, Nick is doing some weird guitar-ass basslines. It creates this woof thing when it works... the combination with the two bassists can get really sick.

-Ivan Neville

 

"The way it works is Nick and Tony play different. They're both very funky, obviously, but a lot of times when Tony is playing the bottom end of the funk, Nick is doing some weird guitar-ass basslines," remarks Ivan. "It creates this woof thing when it works. And with Ian being such a great rhythm guitar player – though lately he's been stretching out on his leads, going further and further out – who comes from the school of old, old Meters guitar funk like the way Leo Nocentelli did. That's what Ian's got going, and the combination with the two bassists can get really sick."

Dumpstaphunk by Dino Perrucci
Ivan Neville is a man who knows great rhythm guitar playing after his stint with Keith Richards' all-too short-lived X-Pensive Winos band, who some of us far preferred to any of the innumerable Stones reunions since.

"Keith is absolutely the best rock & roll rhythm guitarist," says Ivan. "He can incorporate little licks into a rhythm that're amazing. He always pushes the envelope. He can play a note that you think is a wrong note and it's the equivalent of a great solo by another guitar player. He finds those small things and sticks with them. As a song goes along he just keeps finding little variations."

Any chance of a Winos reunion?

"I hope so. Other than Dumpstaphunk that's the favorite band I've ever played with," Ivan says. "We'd get to switch up all the time. I got to play bass and even guitar. You can absolutely cut it up as a musician with them. One of the highlights of my musical life was being onstage playing guitar with Keith and Waddy [Wachtel]. I was like, 'Damn, I'm a bad motherfucker. I'm playing guitar with Keith and Waddy. Damn!' You can find stuff on YouTube of me playing guitar with them. There's a version of the Winos playing 'Happy' [see it here] where I'm only playing like two chords but it's fun."

Ian's guitar playing is one of the primary attractions in Dumpstaphunk. In a nutshell, he lives and breathes the sentiment's of the Funkadelic classic "Who Says a Funk Band Can't Play Rock?!" from 1978's monster One Nation Under A Groove, which coincidentally is where Dumpstaphunk wants to place listeners.

Ivan Neville
"I was just listening to that one the other day [laughs]. I want us to jam out on that one. We would kill that shit! Hopefully people will recognize that rock can be funky," offers Ian. "We play whatever kind of music we're leaning towards with our funk edge to it. We all listen to everything across the board. And whatever we're listening will influence the funk. I don't gravitate towards any one section when I walk into what's left of record stores. Whenever I go into Amoeba I have to go in with a list or I'll freak myself out and have to leave."

"I didn't really appreciate Leo until after I learned to play guitar. 'Cissy Strut' is not a workout to play but it's so tasteful. Every note is what goes in that song. And everything else on that record [The Meters' 1969 self-titled debut] is completely insane. Nobody could ever come up with that stuff again for this kind of music," says Ian.

Part of Dumpsta's extended family is saxophonic maniac Skerik, who's plays live with them and appears on Listen Hear. When he sits in, Skerik reveals his inner honker, a '40s Midwest territory big bander blowing the soul out of his horn. "He loves playing that Fred Wesley/Maceo [Parker] shit in addition to his 'out there' stuff. People expect that weirdness from him," says Ian. "Skerik blows all day long. When he came on the road with us he was always, 'I'll be in the room playing.'"

Every member of Dumpstaphunk comes from New Orleans but they don't carry much of the signature funk sound of that city.

"We grew up listening to most of the stuff most New Orleans musicians are bred on – The Meters, Professor Longhair – but the most New Orleans you hear in this band is the percussive factor in the grooves. That part of the funk is very New Orleans," Ivan comments. "A lot of the stuff that Raymond plays is his own but he also borrows a lot of stuff from great New Orleans drummers, particularly Zigaboo. You know, fills that don't really sound like fills. The average drummer not from New Orleans can play that stuff a little bit but they don't really eat and sleep it. It's just the beat in our blood."

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Comments

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Thu 12/20/2007 09:42PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Chaloupka

Dumpstaphunk might be the coolest fvckin band I know of! Their shows are just so bad-ass!

johnnygoff starstarstarstar Thu 12/20/2007 10:01PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

johnnygoff

thanx for the writeup on the, as you say, stankiest of all funk.

good read dennis.

how extensive was X-Pensive Winos' duration/touring?

BTL starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/21/2007 05:59AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

BTL

I had the pleasure in seeing Dumpstaphunk at a local bar in the pittsburgh area...WOW I can easily say they are the funkiest cats iv'e seen live in a long time...As well after the show was over I had the chance to speak with all the guys as they they sold merch. they are very down to earth and appreciate their fans....Also I couldn't take their cd out of my ride for about 3 weeks even though there are 5 tracks its something I could listen to all day everyday....Keep it funky!!!

Zapzapa starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/21/2007 06:34AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Zapzapa

tRUE pROS GOTTA LOVE EM

yemmw Fri 12/21/2007 09:09AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

yemmw

I was blown away when I saw Tony playing bass for Trey when I saw him last. He and Sipe were laying it down so hard!! So I clearly must check this out.

delete_me165 starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/21/2007 09:24AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

They are one of the funkiest bands on the planet right now but boys...get a full time horn player! It'll take you even higher

The Grand Wazoo Fri 12/21/2007 10:39AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The Grand Wazoo

I've seen these guys a couple times now and they always bring the dirty funk for sure.

Jidi starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/21/2007 10:39AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jidi

NOLA = that fiya

UNrelated: yall at jambase need to write up that show at dba last night - garage a benevento (stanton moore, skerik, dillion, and marco). it was as good as it gets

paulthewolf starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/21/2007 12:57PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Dumpsta is leading the charge for the new wave of New Orleans funk. They have all mastered the roots of New Orleans funk and now they are taking the music to a new higher level. No band on the planet is laying it down greasier than these guys. We should all be very excited that such amazing music is again springing up from the musical Mecca.

theguykeator star Fri 12/21/2007 01:07PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

theguykeator

10klf, barn stage, late, REAL HAPPY FUN TIME(GOT SUPERFUNKED)!!!

Benjamin Human Fri 12/21/2007 04:54PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Benjamin Human

Dumpstaphunk: as featured in The Onion's Worst Named Bands 2007

Grape Drank starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/21/2007 10:13PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Grape Drank

Dumpstaphunk is the shazbat shiznit of progressive FONK - don't miss them if they come to your town. I'll be hittin' up the 12/30 Tips show, yeah you rite! Then their NYE show at Howlin' Wolf is a double-bill with Porter-Batiste-Stoltz -- talk about funkifying your life.....just imagine George, Nick and Tony doing a triple bass jam!

JIDI- Agreed, that Garage a Trois* show at d.b.a. last night was off the freakin' hook - they had been rehearsing for a few days as they are going into the studio Fri & Sat, and it was a TIGHT TIGHT show. They played lots of new stuff in the first set which was outstanding...and then the second set lasted TWO HOURS and was just SMOKIN'!!

* From what I heard last night, Marco is pretty much now in the band for good, so no they longer need the alternative moniker!

tipiboy starstarstarstarstar Sat 12/22/2007 10:40AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

tipiboy

To quote Papa Mali "All them Nevilles are bad ... But I think Ivan's the Baddest Neville!" See Them every chance you get!

jimmystewart420 starstarstarstarstar Sat 12/22/2007 12:17PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I was there late night bonnaroo 06 and Dumpstaphunk laid down that str8 funk, they cancelled a show in my town last year but still waiting for another chance to see em

crowesfan2 Sat 12/22/2007 12:46PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

crowesfan2

I have seen them 4 times, and I will see them again and again and again.

manlejo starstarstarstarstar Sat 12/22/2007 07:03PM
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Yeah, I'll throw my hat into the ring. Saw 'em this summer at Fete de Marquette in Madison, free show, one of the highlights of the concert season for me. Blew my mind, the way they kept two bass players clean and engaged the audience so thoroughly for the entire show! Due to the nature of the event, it was almost completely middle-aged midwest folks, but booties were shaking, and the band declared that Wisco dances a hell of a lot more than Chicago. Take that Chi-town!

gmoo Mon 12/24/2007 02:30PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

gmoo

Probably because they were playing before NMAS and Umph in Chicago. Dumpstaphunk is where its at.

ghilliesblunt starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/24/2007 04:51PM
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ghilliesblunt

thanks jambase for showing the dumpsta some love! i also happened to catch them at 10KLF and it was one of the better shows ive ever been at, everyone was boogie'n and they actually got alotta sexy well endowed ladies on stage at the end, cant go wrong with a band with 2 bass players! like keller says: "focus on the bass!"

gmoo: youre right, dumpstaphunk got shafted cause half the festival hadnt even arrived during the start of their set, not to mention people were skeptical of dancing in the woodstock99-esque mudtraps while the 90degree+ midday sun was bearing down, not myself of course

Sueshi starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/24/2007 06:07PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Sueshi

Dumpstaphunk late night was the highlight of High Sierra 2007!

Jules starstarstarstarstar Thu 12/27/2007 10:56AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jules

They are currently my fave band to see live! Best show ever was on Jam Cruise last year in the lounge with Karl Denson, Skerik & George Porter, Jr. jammin' with them!!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/28/2007 04:17AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

the only group I have ever seen with TWO basses!!!!!!!

Astronaut Jones starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/2/2008 05:39AM
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Astronaut Jones

excellent call miles! it's no small feat to play cognisant music with two basses on the same stage. my hat's off to the Dumpsta

headySetList Thu 1/3/2008 08:06AM
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headySetList

these guys are awesome, and getting plenty of good press,

i bet they will be at roo this year

bigandtall Mon 1/14/2008 09:52AM
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Nice work here. I never really cared for the name "dumpstaphunk" thinking that it was just trying to hard. But I can see why he named the band that and I never really thought about it but they really do have a very dirty brand of funk. Nothing like the clean and driving funk of a band like Galactic. Not better or worse and obviously from the same universe but very different. I think that the two bass players totally makes this. I never understood the need for both bass players either, but this story sheds some light on that for me. The sound is dirty and the double bass really dirties things up. Nice work all around.