Central Funktion
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Central Funktion

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Few bands sound as if they are having as much fun as Central Funktion. But this Kingston, Tenn., quintet have a lot more than just enthusiasm going for them. On the group's sophomore release, "Teenage Geezer (an EP)," these guys churn out hook-laden rootsy rock that's hard to resist.

Central Funktion has obviously absorbed the best moments from the "Nuggets" albums, maybe some Flamin' Groovies, and wallowed in the greats of 1970s rock and come out smelling like beer-soaked roses. Yet, while the group may at first sound like a good-time party band, the Central Funktion is loaded with curve balls. "Moving Out West (Leaving the Nest)" includes some snarky organ-work that nearly nicks the opening to "California Girls" then goes into a bit of dialogue and layered harmonies. Heck, it's a mini-opera.

Horn player Mark Ellis helps give songs a distinctive boost, and lead singer Corey Finnell has just enough growl with his croon to make it all sound a little dirty.

Turn it up loud. - Knoxville News-Sentinel (9/28/08)


Incorporating brass into a rock band is often a plucky move, but not many realize just how dicey such implementation can be. Few bands are able to do it successfully without crossing into ska, but those who can pull it off are easily able to break through the clutter of those who can't.
On a national level, Beulah probably holds the title for most-successful incorporation of perpetual brass into music that undeniably maintains its indie-rock status. It seems the trick is simply to not get carried away: An overly flamboyant brass section leaves conventional instruments with little room to explore. This is a concept that local act Central Funktion seems to grasp in its horn-laden melodies. A rare find, Central Funktion seems to be one of those few bands that can use horns alongside their other essential elements.
Central Funktion has a knack for combining equal parts of its well-rounded components of Southern rock guitar riffs and solos, backing brass and distinctly charming vocals. Careful not to overuse or neglect any weapon in its arsenal, the band manages to glide well above the clouds of pretentiousness that often plague bands attempting similar feats.
"We agreed that for this band to work, everyone would have to put his influences on the table," says vocalist/guitarist and founding member Corey Finnell, "and we would somehow manage to meld these together."
"We are willing to listen to each other, be one ingredient in a stew, and share community influences and self-motivation to reach satisfaction," adds drummer Andrew Nance.
As a band on East Tennessee's exclusive list of legitimately original sounds, Central Funktion is often oversimplified in third-party descriptions, drawing comparisons to many groups it hardly resembles.
"I've heard our sound described as somewhere between Sublime and The Beatles," says guitarist Jimmie Whittenbarger. "As far as that goes, I would love to be mentioned as something even remotely close to either."
Bassist Jackson Deal adds, "My brother said it was The Beatles crossed with The Strokes, but I don't think the overall experience can be expressed by that. The 'funk' in Funktion does not denote a musical genre. The funk represents more of a blend of styles and influences that, when mixed together, makes goulash, or funk. This funk is what makes up our center of being, or central funktion."
Since February the group has been a recurring part of Preservation Pub's Singer/Songwriter Night. The band, based in Kingston, hopes this exposure will initiate Knoxville's infamous word-of-mouth hysteria for upcoming shows. Central Funktion has recently upped its show frequency, playing a diversity of venues in order to introduce itself to more show-goeers and to raise funds for its next album.
"Currently we are playing as many gigs as possible to raise money to get back into the studio," says trumpeter/percussionist Mark Ellis. "I would like to play more cities, get out, take an RV trip or something."
"We're working on a new album, entitled 'Nightlife of the Gods,' which we hope to work on during the late summer/early fall, and maybe have out by Christmas," adds Finnell. "We're writing and rewriting songs, so that we bring out the best of ourselves on this record. We want it to be something our peers in Knoxville can appreciate and our fans will love."
The obstacle of exposure is one Central Funktion will easily overcome if it continues its relentless pace. This week's show schedule will give the rockers a definite boost. tonight, Central Funktion will play a free show at O'Charley's on The Strip from 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. Thursday, the group treats Knoxville to another free show following Sundown in the City at The Downtown Grill and Brewery, with Cornbread Blues. - Jer Cole, Knoxville News-Sentinel


After releasing its debut album "Nightlife of the Gods," local act Central Funktion performed sporadically before taking a hiatus that will soon reach its end.
Having lost two key members, the band was forced to reformulate its approach and train a new guitarist. During the break, however, the group did not discontinue its songwriting and spent last fall in Nashville recording tracks for its upcoming release "Teenage Geezer."
Prior to the most recent loss of a brass player and guitarist, Central Funktion was noted for its heavy implementation of its stout horn section. Far from a mere ska band, the group's use of brass was subtle while paying homage to the big band era in a modern context. The group has since replaced its missing guitarist, but has gone forward with only a minimized brass section.
"There aren't a lot of other bands out there that use brass," remaining horn and percussion player Mark Ellis says of the group's distinctive characteristics. "We used to have a big band sound. Over half of us were classically trained. We started out with three trumpets, a sax and two trombone players. Back in those days we sounded more melodic and layered as a big band. As time passed, the section became smaller, eventually down to one. In turn, the music had to morph. The change directly affected the brass feel, but in a good way. Less has become more. The dynamics survived all of the change. Other than the horns, it's the music itself - it sits apart from mainstream stuff. It takes you back. We also use a lot of live percussion, which is always fun for the audience."
"It's hard to say if I've actually changed anything really," says lead guitarist and new addition to the act Joey Murray. "I mean, sure we can have more intense guitar parts that might tend to grab a few more heavy or old school listeners. I know I'm not alone here, but I like the idea of bringing back the type of guitar players that were around in the '20s and '30s. These guys would play and would sometimes preach during church Sunday morning and then go play bars and whorehouses that same night. Not saying I'm a preacher or anything, but the notion of that kind of 'double life' has always intrigued me."
Central Funktion further transcends time through the frequent incorporation of doo-wop, a cappella and occasional synthesizers, all of which make an appearance on the forthcoming "Teenage Geezer." The recordings are due for release in April and are intended as a sampling of the band's many compositions created during the past year. Central Funktion hopes to use the EP as a means to produce a full-length album containing the rest of the band's timely tracks. The catch is that the band is releasing this EP expressly via the Internet.
"We're shopping around our EP in hopes to secure a way to both finish the album and tour nationally to spread our music around the country," says vocalist Corey Finnell. "Specifically, for me, the closing of Disc Exchange West really drove home the point that the compact disc is such an out-of-date medium.<0x00A0> Digital is the only way to go these days.<0x00A0> And that's coming from someone who likes vinyl."
April 25 will mark the band's return to performing and the online release of "Teenage Geezer." The band guarantees a night of surprises, but don't be surprised if the live set overpowers its recorded material.
"In my opinion, we offer something for everyone," says bassist Jackson Deal. "If you like to sit back and enjoy the music and watch a show, we have that covered. If you want to hear something unique to Knoxville, you can't really say you've tried till you've checked out the Funktion. If you wanna dance or stomp your feet or all of these, we're right there with you. Also, I am predicting that the EP release party will be the best show the Funktion has ever done."
"No matter what your opinion is of our recorded music, the live show's completely different," adds Finnell.<0x00A0>"It's therapy for us, so one can expect energy, intensity and well-arranged tightly-performed music."
The CD release celebration will take place at Patrick Sullivan's on April 25. The show is slated for 9 p.m. and will cost $5.
"You could think of it like we've been waiting in line to pee for a long time," Murray says "and what I'm looking forward to is that relaxing feeling that comes afterwards." - Jer Cole, Knoxville News-Sentinel


Discography

"NIGHTLIFE OF THE GODS" - September 2006
"teenage geezer EP" - April 2008

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Bio

Finding inspiration from rock pioneers like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, as well as the energy and ‘new old school’ riffs from The Strokes and fellow Tennesseans, Kings of Leon, Central Funktion is a time-transcending band with a sound both new and familiar.

Finnell (chief songwriter and arranger) and Nance (who pounded paint cans at age five) started playing together while they attended Roane County High School. After circulating a demo tape, the two stumbled upon Deal (whose entire family is comprised of gifted musicians), and the three-piece began collaborating on original music. Soon thereafter they met Ellis, who was RCHS band captain, and added him to their ranks, expanding their trio to as many as nine members, incorporating brass and keyboards. Deal christened the ensemble “Central Funktion” in 2002, and the group spent most of that year writing and rehearsing material in Deal’s basement.

In September 2006, after four long years of hard work and savings, the band released its debut album, ‘NIGHTLIFE OF THE GODS,’ which they recorded at Chicken Hill Studios, located just outside of Nashville, in six days of studio time. The Funktion executed songs like ‘The Woo Song’ and ‘Sand Dog Nostalgia’ effortlessly during live shows in and around Knoxville, where they discovered a young and talented guitarist named Joey Murray.

The four invited Murray to join Central Funktion in 2007, during the band’s creative boiling point. Over the next few months, Murray’s style melded its way into the ferocious fever of musical moods that was becoming an hour-long opus Finnell dubbed ‘teenage geezer.’ After laboriously home-recording the 25 “sections” in drummer Nance’s basement, the band returned to Chicken Hill in August ’07 to make their dream a reality.

Instead, time and money shortages became their reality. Not giving up, the quintet agreed to release six tracks as an EP, in hopes to boost income to complete their vision. Featuring a beautiful cover by artist Ben Moist, the ‘teenage geezer’ EP gives listeners a glimpse of Central Funktion at its best: “Girls (Are Taking Over the World)” and “Moving Out West (Leaving the Nest)” are two examples of completely different, well-executed songs by a group that has finally come into its own.

The title track is a very personal gift from Finnell, who insists the song’s lyrics are “bluntly honest and brutally true.” “No names were changed to protect the innocent,” he explains. Indeed, while searching for an audience, fame, and notoriety, Central Funktion has learned that honesty is the best key to success, and the band’s strongest weapon. In fact, the very theme of ‘teenage geezer’ describes how dreams, plans, and empathy are only relative to each individual’s experiences in life: how staying true to one’s self is the true nature of success.