Five Alarm Funk
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Five Alarm Funk

Band Jazz Funk

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Apr
19
Five Alarm Funk @ World Ski & Snowboard Festival

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Sep
12
Five Alarm Funk @ Richard's on Richard's

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sep
06
Five Alarm Funk @ Royal Theatre

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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Music

Press


Vancouver-based rhythm machine, Five Alarm Funk will celebrate the release of their second studio album 'Voodoo Hairdoo' with a CD release party on Friday, May 23 at The Waverley in Cumberland. 'Voodoo Hairdoo' captures the boundless energy of Five Alarm Funk's delirium-inducing live show. It is a journey from fast funk and dance-crazed Latin to epic reggae and thunderous Afro-beat. The band's horn and percussion-driven instrumental jams feature searing guitar leads and horn solos wailing and soaring above a four-man percussion maelstrom that is grounded by Neil Towers' juicy bass lines.

Five Alarm Funk has built an enthusiastic fan base large enough to twice fill the Commodore with over 900 fans in 2007. Every performance is an unstoppable dance party. The intense horn lines, percolating Afro-beat guitar and explosive percussion section are irresistible. The 11-piece phenomenon has performed over 120 shows throughout Western Canada, including sold out shows at The Waverley, The Cumberland Village Works Solstice Party last winter and a mind-blowing live set at The Big Time Out last summer. Interaction between the crowd and the band is a huge part of the show, and they try to make every show an event. The band's playful, high-energy live show is fueled by skin-tight arrangements and raw, sweat-drenched passion. From its founding as a six-piece in 2003, the young band (average age is 24) has grown into one of the most exciting and unique groups in Canada.

The group's first release, put out in March 2006, has sold over 2500 copies. Five Alarm Funk dedicates 'Voodoo Hairdoo' to its fans, who made it possible to record this album independently without label support or government grants. Get your tickets early! Advance Tickets $20 at Bop City, Orbitz and The Wave. Music starts at 10pm. For info vist www.cumberlandvillageworks.com www.waverleyhotel.ca or call vig 898-1056

- Comox Valley Echo


Eleven isn't big enough, and 13 is unlucky. According to the founding members of Five Alarm Funk, that's why they chose to make their instrumental groove machine a 12-man operation””and that's with emphasis on the man.

“We recognized early on that having women in the band led to relationships forming which undermined the band's cohesion,”? says timbales player Carl Julig, who, along with six of his bandmates, sat down with the Straight to talk about chicks, musical prodigies, and the mean streets of Dunbar. “We were no longer hanging out as a group; we were hanging out as a bunch of couples, and the single guys were talking shit about the couples. It sucked. But we solved that problem.”?

There are still challenges when it comes to keeping a 12-piece afloat, of course. For instance, financing a tour beyond B.C. and Alberta is just a pipe dream at this point, and that has guitarist Oliver Gibson a little concerned.

“You can only play Vancouver so many times before you play out all of your fans,”? Gibson says. “We would love to play Toronto and we would love to play Montreal, but the cost to get us out there would just be ridiculous. So we're hoping that someone, who maybe has some money, will hear us one day and just throw some plane tickets our way so we can go down there and play some shows.”?

The other hurdle to clear is dealing with a dozen personalities in one small jam space. That is, when they all get together at the same: with so many schedules to juggle, that's no easy feat. “We were thinking of maybe implementing a fine system, like five dollars if you're late and 10 dollars if you miss a rehearsal,”? Julig says. “But that would suck up all of Eli's allowance.”?

Eli is 17-year-old sax wonder Eli Bennett, who recently performed at this year's Grammy Awards and was in Colorado playing with Herbie Hancock at the Telluride Jazz fest at the time of this interview. Since he is the youngest member of the group, with the highest profile, his bandmates have taken it upon themselves to ensure that he doesn't get a big head.

“We keep his ego in check big time,”? bassist Neil Towers says. “It's a subtle balance of appreciating him and just ragging on him.”?

It also helps that when they play venues where no minors are permitted, Eli has to make himself scarce till showtime.

“He just sort of whimpers in the corner or goes to his hotel room and noodles on his sax,”? Julig says.

“And we're fine with that,”? Gibson adds. “That way we don't have to listen to him warm up his saxophone for 20 minutes.”?

It may seem like the rest of the band is really hard on wee Bennett, but Towers says their relentless teasing is a sign of great affection.

“I remember when our conga player thought we hated him””like, hated his guts,”? recalls Towers, referring to his brother Tom. “We just ragged on him from time to time, but it was all out of love. Once he got that through his head, he joined in.”?

And what about the music? Dunbar, which several members of the group call home, isn't exactly a hub of funk.

“Location has nothing to do with it,”? drummer Tayo Branston insists. “I mean, people in the band come from all over. Some come from Surrey, Richmond, and even Coquitlam. It's just an awesome type of music and we happen to have the instrumentation to pull it off.”?

He's right. At times their self- titled debut album is so on the money, it could almost pass for a Blaxploitation soundtrack. For instance, the Afro-beat delirium of “Hot Funk Sunday”? instantaneously conjures up images of Melvin Van Peebles's Sweetback fucking his way through L.A. Other tracks, however, are a little more sweaty Vancouver hippies dancing barefoot–esque. And by those standards, the members of Five Alarm Funk are indeed pretty funky for white guys.

Further proof of their popularity is the numbers they draw. Last March, this three-year-old, word-of-mouth phenomenon sold out Richard's on Richards. Up next, the group headlines the burgeoning out-of-town jam fest known as Bonfire. According to Towers, Five Alarm Funk's rise to local fame comes as no surprise. “I think we always knew that we had something really hot, something really special. I mean, when this many people can come together and make it work, it's magic.”?


Five Alarm Funk plays the Joe King Clubhouse on Hornby Island next Friday (August 18) and the Bonfire Fest at Ruby Lake on the Sunshine Coast next Saturday (August 19).
- Georgia Straight


Discography

2006 - Five Alarm Funk
2008 - Voodoo Hairdoo

Photos

Bio

Five Alarm Funk is Vancouver’s own 11-piece Afrobeat-Funk-Jazz Orchestra. Since 2003, the band has brought their relentless grooves to clubs and many major festivals across Western Canada and are always asked to keep coming back. Intense horn lines and percolating Afro-Beat guitar combined with the interplay of four percussionists creates an impression undescribable.

The band’s wicked cross-rhythms and frenetic, costumed stage show appeals to Jazz/Blues fans and clubs kids alike. Five Alarm Funk has carved out a word of mouth fan base from a series of crowd-pleasing performances at clubs, concert halls, and festivals throughout B.C. They have been in the top rated bands played on many University radio stations across BC and Alberta.

Five Alarm Funk has built an enthusiastic fan base large enough to twice sell out the legendary world-class venue, The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC both in 2007 & 2008. In 2003, the 11-piece phenomenon has performed over 120 shows throughout Western Canada, sharing stages with such artists as Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Herbaliser, Sly & Robbie, Fishbone, Xavier Rudd, Hey Ocean, Albino! and many others.

Every performance is an unstoppable dance party. The band’s playful, high-energy live show is fueled by skin-tight arrangements and raw, sweat-drenched passion. From its founding as a six-piece in 2003, the young band has grown into one of the most exciting and unique groups in Canada today.

On May 1st, 2008 the band released 'Voodoo Hairdoo', their second studio album. Five Alarm Funk is now touring through summer/fall 2008 to promote their new CD. The album captures the boundless energy of their live show. It is a journey from fast funk and dance-crazed Latin to epic Reggae and thunderous Afro-Beat. The albums’ first single “Keep Me Up All Night” is a slap-bass driven, heavy funk workout reminisent of Earth Wind & Fire. The song features guest apperences by soul-singing powerhouses Tim Fuller and Dawn Pemberton, adding a new element to the band’s trademark instrumental grooves.

Five Alarm Funk’s wacky costumes and stage antics guarantee a frenzied dance party, but the boys in the band can really play too. Five Alarm Funk can easily pack a dance floor, but they’ve got tons of jazz chops too. They’ve got all elements. They are the real deal!