Toronto based collective After Funk will be kicking off their spring and summer tour Saturday, April 18 at APK Live in London, Ontario. The power-funk quartet has a definitive sound with enormous texture. They’re a tight-grooving rhythm section that has an even mix syncopated instrumentals and soulful lyrical tracks.
Since their inception in 2011, After Funk has exploded into the music industry which has earned them opening spots for some heavy-hitters in the festival scene including; Lettuce, Snarky Puppy, Dumpstaphunk, Kung Fu and The Nth Power. After Funk was selected as Electric Forest’s Instrumental Forester for 2014 where they were featured alongside groups like The String Cheese Incident, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Zeds Dead, Flying Lotus Stephen Marley and more.
Drummer Jaime Rosenberg felt “After Funk’s origins can be traced back to 2009 when bassist Justin Bontje and I were paired up as roommates at the University of Western Ontario.” Shortly thereafter, the jamming duo hooked up with keyboard and vocalist Yanick Allwood, signed up for two local battle of the bands, “and after only two weeks of playing together we won them both,” stated Rosenberg.
“After a few months, we released a demo entitled “Soul’d” and began playing regional shows…then we added a horn section, percussion and a second guitarist (Phil Tessis). Currently, the band consists of Allwood, Rosenberg, Bontje and Tessis and are frequently joined by a horn section.
With a definitive sound, the post-funk-fusion group released their self titled debut EP in January 2014, mixed and mastered by Alan Evans of Soulive. The seven-track release, including a laidback intro with a jam-band feel, is energetic and filled with percussive textures from congas to up-tempo cowbell syncopation. The second track (after the into) “The Fugitive” is explosive and soulful. In contrast, the coming tracks, such as “Busted” and “Tequlis” are centered around a recurring riff and tight rhythm. Reminiscent of the Head Hunters, “Busted” is infectious with screaming keyboard-lines and a crisp snare drum supporting ‘2 and 4’. Hear it for yourself and download it for free on After Funk’s website!
Wait, Free? “Yes, Free,” said Rosenberg. “It’s similar to what Pretty Lights talks about – You don’t make money off of albums anymore.” In the mold of a digital age we are faced the the harsh reality of ‘if you don’t give it away, your fans will get it somewhere else.’ Rosenberg feels it is worth the risk because “if you can get people out to your shows it goes a lot further than the money you would make off of the album. We have an option for people to donate when downloading our album, and, in some cases, people have given upwards of 25 dollars for that one record,” said Rosenberg.
When it comes to being a successful post-fusion band, “First and foremost, music is the key ingredient and in the music we play, funk is the common denominator. We work really hard, but you also need to be persistent,” said Rosenberg.
Christopher Tory of Live Nation said about the band, “I first booked After Funk after they came highly recommended via the agent of a renowned internationally touring funk act. They blew me away live. Their thundering, original style features distinct, contemporary flavours mixed with all the necessary tried-and-true elements of classic funk, for an overall sound that grooves hard and moves audiences. These young virtuosos have a deep pocket and tremendous chops typically only exuded by bands twice their age. They are a kind, sensible and professional group of individuals to work with. A wonderful band in all respects.”
Overall, After Funk is excited to be back on the road and be exposed to new music in The States. Tessis felt “the US in general has a much stronger funk/jam scene, so coming to The States is always great. We do well in Canada and have amazing fans who are very supportive but it’s a lot different. The crowd reaction is usually the same in both countries, but what differs is the overall amount people who support live music. Toronto is coming around though.”
Ironically, the band’s biggest obstacle is getting over the border, in a van filled with gear and supplies for the road ahead. Touring internationally for After Funk is a true test to their love of music and fans. There is a great deal of planning that goes into each tour and when traveling out of Canada each band-member is required to apply for a working visa, according to Rosenberg.
Tour dates include:
April 18th – APK Live – London, ON
April 23rd – The Rivoli – Toronto, ON
April 24th – The Brig – Port Dover, ON
April 25th – The Casbah – Hamilton, ON
April 30th – Rock n Roll Resort – Kerhonkson, NY
May 2nd – The Toucan – Kingston, ON
May 6th – Nectars – Burlington, VT
May 7th – TBA – Hartford, CT
May 8th – Wonderbar – Boston, MA
May 9th – The Spot – Providence, RI
May 13 – Scarlet and Grey – Columbus, OH
May 14th – The Thunderbird Café – Pittsburgh, PA * w/ Turbo Suit
May 15th – ColorDance Music Festival – Stewart, OH
May 16th – Paddy Flaherty’s – Sarnia, ON
May 17th – Come Together Festival – Durham, ON
May 21st – Iron Works – Buffalo, NY w/ Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band
May 22nd – The Cage – Toronto, ON
May 23rd – The Corktown Pub – Hamilton, ON
May 27th – The Knitting Factory – Brooklyn, NY w/ Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band
May 28th – Funk ‘n Waffles – Syracuse, NY
May 29th – The Kings Rook – Erie, PA
June 19th – Harry’s Hoe-Down – Starks, ME
June 20th – Buffalove Music Festival – Silver Creek, NY
July 3rd – Willy Fest Music & Arts Gathering – College Corner, OH
July 4th – Farm on Fire Music & Arts Festival – Kirkersvile ,OH
July 30th – OpenMind Festival – Grenville, QC
July 31st – OpenMind Festival – Grenville, QC
More with guitarist Phil Tessis:
L4LM: What is it like establishing yourself as a Canadian Funk Band?
PT: I feel like it might have been easier for us as Canadians to break into the scene in the US. This doesn’t so much have to do with where we’re from but more so that we waited to tour the states until a few years into the bands career. We had our incubation period playing mostly in Southern Ontario, so we really tightened up as a band before we started playing shows and festivals in the states. Breaking into the scene was definitely easier because audiences skipped the bands infancy and are seeing us already developed.
L4LM: You have opened for groups like Lettuce, Snarky Puppy and Dumpstaphunk – What is it like to play with these bands? Are there any memorable experiences while playing with these groups?
PT: There are too many memorable experiences. I’ve been listening to a few of these bands for years now. I’ve been going to see Snarky Puppy in Toronto since they first started coming here and playing at a jazz club called the Rex, so getting to open for those guys was great. Aside from the music the most memorable experiences were getting to hang with some of my musical inspirations. I’ve been listening and learning from Eric Krasno’s playing since I discovered Soulive when I was 15. So getting to shoot the shit with him and pick his brains after listening to this guy play for 10 years was a huge inspiration.
L4LM: What are five ‘must haves’ while on the road?
PT: Water bottles, tent/sleeping bag/pillow, iPod, sunscreen and toll money.