Basement Chemistry
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Basement Chemistry

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"Public Display of Funk coming to RIBCO"

By Mark McLaughlin, Correspondent

Many high-school musicians dream of creating a band and making it big. Some do start up groups, but sadly, many of those break up after graduation. Public Display of Funk started out as a high-school band, continued past graduation, and are now working toward their ultimate goal: "To travel around the country spreading our funky goodness!" said guitarist John Cardoni.

Public Display of Funk will be performing at 10 tonight at RIBCO, 1815 2nd Ave., Rock Island. The members of this 10-piece funk ensemble are John Cardoni, Cory Starr, Mike Anderson, Travis Thacker, Eric Bellas, DJ Brainstorm, Darin Holthaus, Ian Wick, NAM and John Clark.

The group has shared stages with such bands as Full Size Jimmy, Drums and Tuba, Mr. Blotto, Down the Line, L.I.P.S., Townhall and The Willies. They have played in a variety of clubs in central Illinois, including Crazy Planet Kitchen in Bloomington and Par-a-dice Hotel in Peoria.

"We're real excited about heading up north to Rock Island," John said, "as it will be our first gig out of the central Illinois area."

Public Display of Funk was formed in 2000. "The majority of us went to Normal West High School in Normal, Ill.," John said. "So most of us had already played together in school ensembles. Four of us were in a band called Blue Tone Groove, which was more of a straight-ahead jazz group. After high school, Public Display of Funk became the group and we added additional members along the road. DJ Brainstorm arrived a year later. In summer of 2003, John Clark came in on trumpet to replace the original player, NAM became our emcee, and Ian Wick gave us a lead vocalist.

"Our music represents funk-hip-hop-rock-jazz-Latin," John said, "but I guess we could just be called a groove band with an awesome horn section -- the 4XL horn section!"

John mentioned that their musical influences include "Phish, Dave Mathews Band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Beck, Beatles of course, MMW, Mile Davis, John Scofield...the list could go on." Some band members have started listening to more hip-hop, including Roots, Jurassic 5 and Outkast.

"Playing music in front of people can be the ultimate high," John said. "There are those times when everything just clicks -- which ideally is every time. When that happens, everything in the world seems right for that moment and it gives you that extra energy to go out and play another show even better."

Public Display of Funk has two CDs available. "Our debut album was `In a Box By Itself.' It was put out in 2001," John said. "That was all instrumental, and a little experimental in the compositions. Our second one, `Audiological,' was just put out the end of 2003. It represents a more matured band that has a better grasp on what kind of a sound we wish to capture."

What are the group's future plans? "By the end of this Spring, most of us will be done with college," John said. "So we're already working on branching out of central Illinois. More of us will be able to devote more time to the band, so we'll be able to gig much more often."

To find out more about the group, visit their Web site at

- Moline Dispatch Publishing Co., Copyright 2001

"They Sang The Top 10 Albums of 2003"

By Kevin Borgia

#7. Public Display of Funk , "Audiological"

The only album from a local band on this chart, "Audiological" was not just a great album from this area, but one of the most startling fusion records of the year.

With the combination of flawless jazz-funk musicianship, pounding beats, soulful vocals and intriguing flows, PDF produced something truly great this year, and although theirs is a path artists like Liquid Soul and Greyboy Allstars have gone down before, this album shows that PDF can hold their own amongst those pioneers.

Although few are even aware of this band at all, their latest album showed they are is poised to blow up on the below-radar play lists of true music lovers.
- e-zone Thursday, January 15, 2004

"Omni Sonic, Public Funkenness"

By Kevin Borgia

Central Illinois is one of the last places one would expect to produce a legitimate funk, hip-hop outfit. But miracles do happen, and this one is called Public Display of Funk. Although the name might be a bit silly, this band is on fire. With their second full-length album, "Audiological," Public Display of Funk not only proves they have something special, but that innovative hip-hop fusion can come from this part of the country.

Similar to bands like Liquid Soul or Dirty Dozen Brass Band, PDF consists of ten members - including a four-piece horn section, drums, bass, guitar, a DJ, a vocalist and a rapper. A keyboardist also appears on the album, though he is not a regular member of the band. With this virtual army of musicians, the band lays it down with strong hooks and fully developed melodies, enhanced by the cutting turntable work of DJ Brainstorm and rapper NAM's tight, reflective flows. It is as if they took their favorite aspects of the Meters, the Beastie Boys and NAS and fused it all together.

"Audiological" starts with "Street Legal," a prime exhibition of the band's sound. Beginning with a funky hook from the brass section, NAM comes in shortly thereafter and dives into a flow that brilliantly trumps up their sound. Moments later, DJ Brainstorm takes his opening shots on the album, scratching with a vengeance and intermixing vocal samples. Then, bassist Eric Bellas thumps into the mix with deep cuts, trading riffs with the turntables before the song dissolves into a guitar solo.

The second track, "Dyrt Stile," begins with a lashing showcase of Brainstorm's ability to simply lay down solid beats. As the band lays into the groove, the combination of beats and horn work proves to be one of their greatest strengths. As the drums take over the rhythm duties, the full band chimes in with perfect melodies that electrify the ears and a pounding bass line that forces heads to bob. Halfway through the song, trombonist Mike Anderson launches into an unparalleled wah-wah solo on an instrument called a Mellobone, followed by an equally amazing E.W.I. solo by Saxophonist Travis Thacker. Thacker explained the E.W.I., or electronic wind instrument, is basically a digital saxophone, while a Mellobone is a one-of a-kind combination of a mellophone and a trombone. The use of such instruments truly shows the band's knack for innovation.

Later, on in "Swamp Music," the band opens with a mournful and sloping rhythm and bass groove, shortly supplemented by simple textures from Brainstorm and guitarist John Cardoni. After a tension-building verse backed by light horns, the band launches into a chorus reminiscent of Jay-Z's work with the Roots, where NAM offers his philosophical insights. ("This music shows us that there is hope yet - for release, may I have my release?") The release is in the form of a Latin jazz groove that meanders through the back streets and alleys of a syncopated city before finding resolution in the arms of DJ Brainstorm. The second verse and chorus are lyrically superior to the first, and as the stunning horn cuts of the chorus return, NAM offers more philosophical thought. ("We must show love, opposing hatred, no need to be faking...The display is made public of the funk, NAM speak it. Even if I only touch you one by one, it has to be done, it has to be done.") The band then takes the spotlight again with the Latin groove, and flawlessly takes the song home.

There are also nine other tracks on the album, and each proves that this is one band that stands out above all others in Central Illinois. In terms of style, the group is viciously inventive and their capacity for merging genres carves them their own niche. But it is their astonishing musical proficiency that truly carries the band. With a lineup including four music majors at various Central Illinois universities, PDF proves they aren't just an amalgamated collection of college kids or simply some jamband. Rather, they are classically-trained jazz musicians skilled in innovative composition and improvisation, and they use that training to deliver outstanding grooves. Considering their strong background, the group's live experience is powerful. Improvised jams overlaid with freestyle verses makes for music that exists totally in the moment. The band will take Bloomington for a ride when they perform at Illinois Brewing Company on Saturday. - The Daily Vidette, Published: Thursday, October 30, 2003

"Canopy Club Reference"

To whom it may concern,
I am writing in regards to the group Public Display Of Funk. This group of hard working musicians has been a pleasure to work with over the last year and a half. They are a dedicated band that has done a great job of cultivating a strong local and now regional following. As a promoter I have always found Public Display Of Funk great to work with, and always willing to help out when needed. As a fan of live music I can say that I have always enjoyed their performances as the band is packed with solid players. I will definately be calling on Public Display Of Funk both for supporting national shows as well as headlining shows at The Canopy Club.

Jeff Markland
- Jeff Markland


5 days after uploading PDF's original tune "On the Recline" to their website, they were granted "TRACK OF THE DAY" honors in the FUNK section (which consists of over 1300 other bands). The staff stated that PDF is receiving an overwhelming amount of positive reviews/individual awards from reviewers.

Only a few weeks later PDF was awarded "TRACK OF THE WEEK" honors, and "On the Recline" was posted on the homepage for a week!

Basement Chemistry (formerly PDF) was awarded Rock "TRACK OF THE WEEK" honors, and "Thermal Breakdown" was posted on the homepage for a week!

Here's a list of awards PDF received from reviewers:

Track of the Day on 27Nov2004 in Funk
Track Of The Week on 10Jan2005 in Funk
#7 Best Male Vocals in Funk, all-time
#17 Best Drums overall, all-time
#2 Best Drums in Funk, all-time
#5 Best Production in Funk, all-time
#12 Best Lyrics in Funk, all-time
#1 Best Melody in Funk, all-time
#6 Best Beat in Funk, all-time
#5 Best Mood in Funk, all-time
#15 Most Original in Funk, all-time
#7 Feel Good Track in Funk, all-time
Best Male Vocals in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Guitars in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Guitars in Funk, week of 10Jan2005
Best Drums overall, week of 22Nov2004
Best Drums in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Drums in Funk, week of 3Jan2005
Best Drums in Funk, week of 10Jan2005
Best Bass in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Production in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Production in Funk, week of 3Jan2005
Best Production in Funk, week of 10Jan2005
Best Lyrics in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Lyrics in Funk, week of 29Nov2004
Best Lyrics in Funk, week of 3Jan2005
Best Melody in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Melody in Funk, week of 3Jan2005
Best Beat overall, week of 22Nov2004
Best Beat in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Beat in Funk, week of 10Jan2005
Best Mood overall, week of 22Nov2004
Best Mood in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Mood in Funk, week of 3Jan2005
Most Original in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Most Original in Funk, week of 3Jan2005
Most Original in Funk, week of 10Jan2005
Feel Good Track in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Feel Good Track in Funk, week of 10Jan2005
Grooviest Rhythm overall, week of 22Nov2004
Grooviest Rhythm in Funk, week of 22Nov2004
Best Dance Track in Funk, week of 29Nov2004
Potential Soundtrack in Funk, week of 13Dec2004 - PDF

"An exclamation of funktification"

by Tom Irwin

Take nine guys, mix in a strong desire to play funk and fusion music, and you’ve got a Public Display of Funk. The Bloomington-based group has been together for five years with only a few personnel changes.

Drummer Darin Holthaus credits the strong bonds among the group’s members for PDF’s longevity. “About half the band has been friends since high school; the rest met in college. We just clicked,” he says. Of course, that wasn’t so very long ago. “We’re all over 21 now,” he says. (At this point during our phone interview, Holthaus calls out: “Hey, Eric, how old are you?” “Twenty-four” somebody shouts. “Yeah, he’s the oldest guy in the band,” Holthaus says.)

The PDF players may be young, but they’ve managed to perform all over the Midwest and spent this past weekend doing a quick tour of St. Louis and Kansas City. They just finished their third CD and plan to release it to the public on Friday, May 6, at the New Lafayette Club in Bloomington. PDF’s recorded catalog is available on Internet music-sale Web sites such as CD Baby, but the group has had no big bites from record labels or distribution deals as yet.

“We heard a rumor that Alicia Keys’ producer was interested in us,” Holthaus says, “but you hear all kinds of things.”

The group’s latest CD was recorded at Eclipse Studios in Normal by Erik Nelson and produced by the band. It features the pristine vocals of Ian Wick, holder of a high, clear, melodic voice. The 4XL horn section is a treat to hear, its intricate lines framing the in-the-pocket rhythms of the electric basic band, and the turntable work adds a modern touch of hip-hop to the classic setup of horns, guitars, and drums.

PDF music is dance-beat stuff, as all good funk is, but the incredible musicianship and undeniable dedication of the college-trained players raises the level to much more than that of the average bar band. What with the hard work the guys are putting into the project, this funk just might get displayed a great deal in public.

Public Display of Funk performs from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at Marly’s Pub, 9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza; 217-522-2280.
- Illinois Times - May 5, 2005


"In a Box by Itself" (2001)
"Audiological" (2003)
"Basement Chemistry" (2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Funk, Rock, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Progressive, Latin, Fusion...whatever you want to call it, Basement Chemistry supplies it. Known as Public Display of Funk since 2000, this eight-member group out of the Midwest projects an exceptionally unique sound that is impossible to imitate. Whether it's hard-hitting funk, laid-back grooves, intense improvisational jams, or intricate compositions, they provide a sound that catches the ear of any music-lover.

Having shared the stage with such national acts as the legendary Little Richard, Drums & Tuba, Down the Line, 56 Hope Rd, and Treologic has allowed Basement Chemistry to prove their abilities at putting on great shows. 2005 has been the best, and busiest, year yet with a new full-length album, over a half dozen outdoor festivals, increased online interest, and not to mention a name change! Whether on the road or in the studio, their talent and originality is clear. The crowd will dance all night long to their amazingly tight horn section, grooving rhythm section, tasteful turntablist, and dead-on vocalist. With three albums under their belt, nationwide airplay, over half a decade of gigging together, and fans near & far, Basement Chemistry is on a mission to spread their sound worldwide.


If you haven’t done so already, click & listen to their songs on the AUDIO page of this EPK.

"Thermal Breakdown" is a track from Basement Chemistry's latest album. It clearly displays their ability to write complex tunes that keep the listener grooving.

"Asking for It" provides the listener a glimpse into another side of the band. Also found on the new album, this mellow, laid-back tune features catchy vocals and a drum-beat intro by the...turntablist?!?!

"Roscoe" is the first track off of the new album. The vocal and horn parts are ever-changing over a James Brown-style of groove.

Call or email us today to book a show at your venue!