By: Casey Shafer
As I arrived at an intimate Oakland venue to interview Ian and Ivan Neville of the progressive funk outfit, Dumpstaphunk, I can't help but overhear a situation I am all too familiar. Their tour manager was on the phone, discussing some confusion regarding the hospitality provided to the band. Amidst the chaos, the Neville cousins were gracious enough offer a few minutes of their time to discuss the new album, Dirty Word, and life on the road.
|Dumpstaphunk by Michael Weintrob|
JamBase: You guys just got back from Japan after doing the Fuji Rock Festival. I have heard that the fans are a lot more reserved. How would you say the reaction [from fans] differs from over here?
Ivan: Oh, it was amazing. They knew some words, some songs. It was similar to any other festival. They were enthusiastic.
Ian: They go hard over there. The first time I went over there it was pouring down rain and they were just chilling. Umbrellas, rain boots on; it didn’t matter. They were down for the long haul.
Ivan: They are quiet though at times. After the applause and response to a song, they would quiet down. It was almost nerve racking how attentive and quiet they were.
Was that your first time in Japan?
Ivan: First time as a band, yes. We have all been over there with different groups but that was the first time with Dumpstaphunk.
I noticed that you have quite a bit of tour dates in the upcoming future, pretty much all the way up through November.
Ivan: You know how summers are; you can stay out for long periods of time and do a lot of festivals or you can do long weekends; stay four or five days out and then go home. Instead of staying out for a month, we do that over the summer.
Which do you prefer - playing these festivals, or playing in small venues like tonight?
|Dumpstaphunk @ Wanee Festival 2012|
by Jeffrey Dupuis
Ivan: It’s a trade off, man. We love playing festivals and they normally run pretty smooth. Sometimes, it’s the travel [that is difficult] with festivals, though. There are times when you have to fly in to some remote location...
Ian: Sometimes they pick you up in a tree trimming truck and drive you across the border...(laughs)
Ivan: That was a one time thing, in Canada (pause). Let’s not even go there...
No, no, no...I want to hear this story!!
Ivan: (sighs) We were playing this festival in Canada. Let me add that is was a very cool festival, but there were a lot of volunteers that worked for the event...
Ian: ...They picked us up in Spokane and...
Ivan: ...They picked us up in a tree trimming truck. It was literally a truck with a big back on it.
Ian: Yeah, a four door truck with a tall cab where they would put plants.
Are you serious?
Ivan: We put our luggage and gear in the back and then there were two seats and a little Toyota car. How many of us were there? (laughs and looks at Ian)
Ivan: There were seven of us! That’s not counting the 3 other people that we didn’t know. We had no idea who they were. There were 7 seats for 8 people.
Ian: I asked the girl [picking us up] where everyone was going to sit (laughs). But once we got there, it was a good time.
Ivan: Yeah, it was a great show. We flew into Spokane and had to drive 4 hours to get there. And then if you have an early flight you have to get up at three in the morning to get back to the airport. But those are the types of things...You know, I wouldn’t do anything else. It was a fun time. We got to play music for a couple of hours. You have to be grateful that you get to do that. The clubs in the summer can be a little difficult at times...
Ian: ...because everyone is at a festival!
You guys have been at it and around for pretty much your whole life. Was there ever a time when you considered doing something else?
|Ivan Neville @ Bonnaroo 2012|
by Joe Russo
Ivan: When I was younger, I would have loved to play sports, but I never developed into this big muscular cat (laughs)
Yeah, me neither. We were robbed!
Ivan: I mean, when I was younger, around seven or eight, if I was asked, I would have said that I wanted to be a football player.
Ian: I was going to be in the NBA.
Ivan: But you know...I started playing music as a teenager and then I said, “okay, this is what I want to do”.
Ian: I don’t remember really deciding I was going to play music.
Ivan: You just ended up with a gig and started playing (laughs). His thing was a little different...there wasn’t really a decision to be made.
Ian: I started playing with Funky Meters, sitting in with them. I quit school and it was all over from there.
I noticed that you guys were involved with the HeadCount Participation Tour. This is something that encourages people to vote. How politically motivated is your music?
|HeadCount Participation Tour|
Ivan: Sometimes we say some things [in our songs]…
Ian: …I mean, we aren’t trying to start a revolution…
Ivan: Yeah, we have some social commentary in some of our songs. Just for the sake of, if you are going to say something, why not say something that has meaning? Headcount encourages people to vote. It isn’t for any one party. It’s to try and get people to vote. It’s your right and people should take advantage of it.
Well I hate to put you on the spot
Ivan and Ian: (Laughs)
...But this is an election year. It’s a very divisive time right now and things could change drastically one way or another. Is there one particular issue that made you want to get involved with things like Headcount?
Ian: Hopefully we can get enough of the people that have been trampled and walked on to get there voice heard. Hopefully we can get them to save themselves before the rich eat them.
So were you guys supporters of the Occupy movement?
Ian: I think the idea behind that was way better than the execution of it. It was unorganized and lacked focus. But the idea of what they were talking about? Yes.
Ivan: I’m with Ian. If you can, get people to be involved in their own lives. We live in a country where we have the right to vote.
Ian: ...and we will never really know if that matters until we can get everyone to do it.
Ivan: If we can get everyone to participate, then who knows. We are in a shit-load of trouble as a country.
Ian: There isn’t one individual candidate that will be the solution. I think it’s everyone. Everyone needs to express their opinion.
It seems a lot of people vote against their own self interest.
Ivan: We seem so divided about stuff. In a weird way, it’s just as bad as it was during the civil rights movement; when there was discrimination and segregation. It really blows my mind. Anything we can do to excite people and get them involved and make decisions for themselves seems like a good idea.
I think we have the lowest voter turn out per capita in any free-world country
Ivan: ...and that's mind blowing!
I didn’t mean to get off on a political rant, but I was interested to hear your opinion. Can you talk about your new album, Dirty Word?
|Ian Neville @ The Peach Music Festival|
by Jennifer Starr
Ivan: Dirty Word was kind of piecemealed. We had been working on the record for awhile. A few days here a few days there, whenever we had time off. We probably worked on it for a total of about 3 weeks over the last seven months. We recorded various songs from each member. Everyone in the band contributed. It’s going to show all the different influences of the band members. It’s not just a funk record. We have some stuff that’s funk, some New Orleans and 2nd line kind of stuff, we have stuff that is geared towards rock and roll, some hip-hop influence in there. That’s what the whole idea of what Dirty Word was about. The name of our band is Dumpstaphunk. That can be a great thing or that can be something that is limiting. If our bands name is “phunk,” then [people think] oh we are just a funk band. When you go to register a song [with BMI], there is no genre that registers funk.
Ian: When we are in an elevator and someone asks, “are you guys in a band? What’s the name?” Oh, “Dumpstaphunk,” they ask, “What kind of music do you play?” If it was “Dumpstarock,” they wouldn’t ask that.
Are you guys planning to release this yourselves?
Ivan: We are actually talking with an indie label right now. Our management has a distribution deal with a major label so that is an option, but the last resort is to put it out ourselves.
Are you seeing more and more artists doing that?
Ivan: Well yeah, the industry has completely changed. It isn’t what it used to be. There used to be a lot of outlets and places to bring your music to. Places to market it and do all the things that record labels used to do. Now there aren’t as many options but we do have some interest and we do have some possibilities. It’s looking very good on that front.
(Just as Ivan finishes this sentence, the long awaited food arrives and I understand that it is best to leave a hungry band to their utensils.) I really appreciate your time guys; I will leave you to your dinner.
Dumpstaphunk Tour Dates
JamBase | Dirty Word
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