Funks G
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Ottumwa Scene Album Spotlight:
the Phoenix 2008
Funks G
by Andy "Danger" Ruble

In a local musical landscape where bands break up, splinter off, and form faster than a music lover can keep track-Funks G, a punk rock trio from Des Moines, have been performing together for almost 10 years and have over 100 live shows under their belts along with five EP's and a national tour scheduled for the Fall.

In the groups first full-length album "The Phoenix", released January 1st of 2008, all the years have paid off in a smart, fast paced, and overall uplifting album experience. Funks G's sound can best be described as early Offspring meets current Rise Against with some of Social Distortions introspection and almost covert spirituality sprinkled within. Funks G is Will Schmitt on lead vocals and guitar, Zach Allison on vocals and bass, and Trent Briney on drums and backing vocals. The album features 12 songs recorded at Dubtown Records. Technically I couldn't find any flaws with the albums production. It is studio-grade material. Two songs on the album are written and sung by Trent Briney and while it is somewhat obvious, it isn't overly distracting.

My main complaint with punk records is that usually three or four tracks in it all sounds the same. This isn't the case with "the Phoenix" at all. The songs are lined up in such a way that nothing seems like it's being overdone or reworked. Some of the main themes covered in the album are social and personal awareness and the often-complicated bonds between people. Probably the most single-worthy track on the album is "Only You", which can best be described as a heartfelt thank you note to someone who's helped you through a rough time. The song is very catchy and the opening drums and guitar is as good of a hook as I've ever heard. I would say that "Only You" would be your best bet if you were to listen to just one song by the band to get a feel for them in my opinion. the song "Weakling", track five on the album, grabs your attention from its opening almost-rockabilly sound and the first lyrics belted out by Will Schmitt "Yeehaw!". One main characteristic in the album is Schmitt's voice. It stands alone in as much as you can't place it in a certain "sounds like so-and-so category". His voice is best described as mostly higher pitched, but his range is wide because he reaches a low growl in the song "Start right now". While his voice does seem to be almost strained in a few instances, it doesn't take away from the music and becomes less noticeable the more you listen. Trent Briney delivers his lyrics in "Shoulder to Shoulder" in a stream of consciousness manor that's hard not to enjoy. In the albums opening track "Afterfall" a good sense of the bands tempo is established. "Afterfall" features an interlude that proves that you aren't dealing with any musical slouches with a guitar solo featuring a lick sounding similar to Berlins "Metro", a really neat sounding kill switch trick, and some crisp bass work. The lyrical content of the song is almost a prelude to the previously mentioned "Start Right Now" which is an anthemic call to action. My personal favorite track on the album is "Forbidden Fruit", track eleven, which is slower paced than many of the other songs but its lyrics are so personal and powerful that even though it's just another oft-clichéd song about two people in love, it is a true testament to Funks G's outing on "the Phoenix" because it stands out as something written and performed by a band with real feeling, devotion, and heart.

While the albums music is best described as punk rock, and some of the content is socially themed, it isn't too coated with the typical scathing indictments of all things wrong with the world. Instead, the album speaks to the better nature of the listener. A good example of this is the song "Walk with Love", track two, which is optimistic to say the least. With many of the songs on "the Phoenix", just the opening chords will cue you to start humming or singing along after a listen or two. If you don't know all the words, they are placed conveniently in the albums liner notes. The album is a great get-up-and-go rock and roll record that I've almost worn out after only five months. Lyrically many of the things said in "the Phoenix" aren't necessarily the coolest things for a "punk band", in it's original meaning, to be saying, but Funks G aren't in the least bit afraid to be saying them, and how punk rock is that?

For more info on Funks G or to order their new album, go to:
http://www.FunksG.com
- Ottumwa Scene Online


August 28th will bring 'heartland punks' Funks G' to New Jersey's capital city for a stop on their first national tour. Formed in the Fall of 1999 Funks G have played over 125 shows across the Midwest. The band has received airplay on 4 central Iowa radio stations, and has been included on several compilation albums. They have also released 5 EP's and one full length CD on their own label, Dubtown records. see: http://www.myspace.com/dubtownrecords

Now, most bands get pot luck for local supporting acts when they are traveling across country, but in the case of 'Funks G', that just may translate into a 'pot of gold' when they perform at Championships Bar & Grill in Trenton, New Jersey. The band will be supported by some heavy hitting classic rockers in the persons of 'Stewkey' , lead singer of the legendary psych-pop band NAZZ. and 'spacerocker' Mike Burro.

For the uninformed, NAZZ was formed by Stewkey & Todd Rundgren in the summer of '67', and went on to cut 3 records for Screen Gems, Columbia. The band charted with the original version of 'Hello it's Me', and the psychedelic nugget 'Open my Eyes'. Although the personnel in Nazz has changed, Stewkey still remains at the helm, and his voice sounds as clear and strong as ever.

Mike Burro has been leading his UK R&B outfit 'The One Eyed Bishops' since 2002, but was already known within the 'spacerock' circuit for his work with the English band Hawkwind and it's may related projects. The 'OEBs' have toured The UK and the northeast U.S. and have been credited with reviving the genre of music known as 'skiffle', a British pre-rock and roll phenomena. Burro & Stewkey have been performing shows together since February 2004, when they organized and performed at The Greg Ridley Memorial Concert, in New York City, in honor of the fallen bass player from 'Humble Pie'.

Championships' Sports bar in Trenton's Chambersburg section has succeeded in fusing the old and the new, and offering up cutting edge rock-n-roll in the state's capital city.
For further information on this show or the current schedule at Championship's call (609) 396-5457 or visit their website at: http://www.championshipbar.com
931 Chambers Street, Trenton, New Jersey , 08611

for further information about 'Funks G', 'Stewkey' and The One Eyed Bishops, visit theres websites: http://www.myspace.com/dubtownrecords http://www.nazzfeaturingstewkey and
http://www.myspace.com/sloterdijk1 ( for The One Eyed Bishops ).
- The Night-Owl Music - Columbus, NJ


The Veishea Battle of the Bands began Tuesday night at the Maintenance Shop. Three groups played sets to start the competition.

Assault Company, a headbanger rock trio with programmed drums, had the crowd thrashing to start off. They made facetious comments between the sets about their missing piece, showing that they didn't take themselves too seriously.

Next came Funks G, a rock trio with a lot of energy and charisma. Their infectious beats had many feet tapping and bodies swaying, as the lead singer, Will Schmitt, sang the melodies with a lot of enthusiasm.

The Lone Strangers finished the night with a nostalgic set of atmospheric originals and a '60s cover of Tommy and the Shondell's "I Think We're Alone Now."

Ten bands will be competing throughout the week at the M-Shop for a chance to play on the main stages Friday night before Eve 6. Schedules of performances are posted at the Veishea Web site.

Assault Company are: Kasey Pfab on guitar, Mark Weland on guitar and Chris Thode on bass.

Funks G are: Trent Briney on bass, Zach Allison on drums and Will Schmitt on lead vocals and guitar.

The Lone Strangers are: Scott Chidester on drums, Matt Herema on lead vocals and guitar, Pat Blair on lead guitar and vocals and Dan Shea on bass. - Iowa State Daily.com


The first of three wildcard rounds of Veishea's Battle of the Bands got off to a slow start at the Maintenance Shop Tuesday evening with low student attendance and two no-shows. It left three bands to gather the pieces and put on a night of enjoyable music.

The three days of wildcard rounds consist of 15 bands playing 30-minute sets for shots at the five wildcard spots in Friday's final round. Ten preselected bands will also compete Friday for bragging rights to the people's choice and top-three awards.

Assault Company

Cascade native band Assault Company, a three-man group consisting of Kasey Pfab and Mark Weiland on guitar and Chris Thode on bass, kicked off the night shredding through mostly instrumental thrash tunes.

Although the band is drummerless, it made great use of a Boss drum machine that, surprisingly, created a solid and elaborate backbeat for the group.

Characterized by Weiland and Pfab's use of duel drop-tuned guitars, Assault Company definitely delivers the bash-your-head-against-the-wall sound that metalheads love, but ended up sounding bare because of the overall lack of accompanying vocals and lead guitar parts to complement the heavy riffs.

Assault Company did show off a lot of talent, but some instrumentals dragged on and turned into Pfab playing the intro riff to Slayer's "Raining Blood" over Weiland and Thode's feedback.

Assault Company put on a show, but suffered without a distinct vocalist and live drummer.

Funks G

Des Moines punk trio Funks G showcased several original songs off its recently released album "The Phoenix" for the small crowd, chugging through Green Day-style power-chord punk rock. The band, which has toured extensively through the Midwest - and will soon launch its first national tour - showed great energy throughout its set featuring complex drumming often not found in typical three-chord punk.

Funks G, although solid, came off as very stereotypical pop-punk of the post-Blink 182 generation, singing all the songs that perfectly describe your broken heart after a middle school breakup.

Lead vocalist Will Schmitt, bassist Trent Briney and drummer Zach Allison definitely have a bright future in the music biz, but might not be able to break past the younger audience.

The Lone Strangers

After a long intermission caused by two no-show bands, Ames band The Lone Strangers ended the night in three-part harmony, performing with the most energy.

The Lone Strangers, considered Battle of the Bands veterans, finished in third place last year and are hoping for better in their fourth appearance.

Lead guitarist Pat Blair's use of drowning reverb over vocalist and guitarist Matt Heerema's rhythm playing mixed cleanly with Scott Chidester's drumming and Dan Shea's bass to create a mellow alternative rock sound.

Although The Lone Strangers have potential, the band's playing seems to be more of a hobby than a career, which might restrict the band to the Ames area.

In the end, the band produces a great sound and is definitely a must-listen for fans of anything from U2 to indie rock.

And hats off to Shea as the night's only bass player to not use a pick and to Blair for ripping the first real solo of the night. - Iowa State Daily


Discography

Good vs. Evil EP (2000)
The Funks G Experience EP (2002)
Flawed by Design EP (2006)
Live at Vaudeville Mews EP (2007)
The Skulls EP (2007)
The Phoenix LP (2008)

Photos

Bio

Born in the Fall of 1999 in small town Iowa, Funks G has inspired thousands of music fans by: playing over 160 shows across the US, receiving airplay on 4 central Iowa radio stations, being included on several compilation albums and releasing 5 EP's and one Full Length on their own label, DubTown Records.

"The band, which has toured extensively through the Midwest - and will soon launch its first national tour - showed great energy throughout its set featuring complex drumming often not found in typical three-chord punk." -- Iowa State Daily - April 9, 2008

"In the groups first full-length album "The Phoenix", released January 1st of 2008, all the years have paid off in a smart, fast paced, and overall uplifting album experience. Funks G's sound can best be described as early Offspring meets current Rise Against with some of Social Distortions introspection and almost covert spirituality sprinkled within." -- Ottumwa Scene Online - Issue 2

Funks G recently returned from a successful six week summer tour where they introduced their music to enthusiastic audiences in 24 cities in the Midwest and North East.

They are currently booking their next tour which will begin in January and take them to the South, Southwest, and Northwest.