Monday, October 24, 2016

Hip-Hop Producer Turned Drummer Jay "J-Zone" Mumford & Long-time Mastering Engineer-Guitarist Pablo Martin Ain't Funkin' Around On The Du-Rites LP (The Witzard Interview)

"Just some nasty instrumental Funk! It’s a niche market, but that’s always been where my heart is. I just never had the resources or the right mind and skill sets til now. When I first started playing drums, Pablo called me to sit in with his band, PABLO, because the drummer wasn’t showing up. They were patient with me as I learned my instrument and how to play with other musicians, instead of just jamming in my basement. I eventually became the drummer in that band, but for a moment, the rest of the band was busy with stuff and both Pablo and I had other side projects that were kind of dragging. The PABLO band is more like Rock, so Pablo and I decided to make a pure Funk project on our own. That became The Du-Rites and it’s ironic that it’s coming out before all the other projects and is actually getting really good feedback. It was initially inspired by restlessness and a desire to "Funk out,'" Jay "J-Zone" Mumford replied during our previous August 2016 interview, when asked how he came to form a band with his long-time mastering engineer, friend, and Tom Tom Club (Talking Heads off-shoot) guitarist, Pablo Martin.

Now, following two Funk-tastic singles, "Bug Juice" and "Hustle," and a slight mishap turned instant collector's item 7-inch vinyl pressing, J-Zone & Pablo Martin have unleashed their self-produced and conceived debut as The Du-Rites, The Du-Rites LP; "Can you dig it? If so, get a plate of neckbones, beans, and rice and put on your Old Spice. The Du-Rites are here to pour some fried fish grease on your kale salad. They’ll out-Funk you so bad, you’ll give up the Funk and start making ballads. Rollin' with Soul like a 1979 Cadillac when you step on the gas. Groovin’ so hard, they’ll knock the boogie man on his a**,” writes Neighborhood Wino & Music Connoisseur Pimpin' Polyester Pete on the LP's reverse sleeve. The Du-Rites LP is currently available digitally, with politically-charged bonus track "Moving to The Moon," on either J-Zone's personal or The Du-Rites Bandcamp profiles or on sunset orange wax from Old Maid Entertainment/Ilegalia Records in conjunction with Redefinition Records... "Ever order a kale salad and discover a neckbone in it? That's Funk! Ever write a love letter on a chicken grease-stained napkin? That's Funk!"


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Master Allah Truth Truth (M-A-T-T)

I. I know that Pablo’s mastered nearly every J-Zone record since A BOTTLE OF WHUP A** THE EP (2000), but how did you two initially come to form The Du-Rites?

Pablo: We’ve known each other for years. We got together a few years ago to jam and we would come up with ideas that I would later finish at home and send back to Jay. Last year, we decided that it would be a good idea to make an album; but it started very informally as two people jamming on holidays just to get by, while people were with their families (I had none here) or shopping. We would get together sporadically on dates like Passover, Christmas, or during bizarre weather events, like blizzards or heat waves.

II. How might you attempt to best describe The Du-Rites sound to fans new to your music or even Funk as a whole; in particular, your “ever written a love letter on a chicken grease-stained napkin” metaphor for the band’s sound?

J-Zone: Grease.

Pablo: Groove and dirt—in that order.

III. How did you happen upon the band name “The Du-Rites” and what exactly is it intended to convey or signify? What were some of the rejected band names?

J-Zone: It was the only name! No rejected names. I was thinking how in the 60's all those Soul bands had names like The [insert hyphenated name that really has no meaning]: The Bar-Kays, The Mar-Keys, The Shangri-Las, etc. It was a play on that. I figured we do Funk right, so... The Du-Rites. It literally just popped in my head with no effort. Like I said, that era of music and everything about it is ingrained in my daily life.

IV. Are the initial “EP’s-worth,” or eight minutes-worth, of music first recorded during The Du-Rites earliest conception included within this album? How many versions, tweaks, and re-edits have they gone through since then?

Pablo: Yes, the initial eight minutes are also the biggest ones in terms of orchestration. We re-did drums on “The Chief and I” and re-tracked both drums and bass on “Man with The Golden Tooth” because Jay wanted to re-track his part. But the original had the drums and bass on one single track, so I couldn’t edit around it. I guess the original version of this track would be the most interesting out-take of the album. Having said that, we have hours and hours of jamming that eventually we might want to revisit, but I truly believe that what we picked was the very best of all. Also, on the original eight minutes were “Hustle” and “Bookie.”

J-Zone: I started composing songs on my own later into the making-of the album. “Bug Juice,” “Ghetto Ferris Wheel,” “Play The Right Hand,” “Neckbones,” “Moving to The Moon,” and “Git’n Off” were songs I composed after that initial run of songs Pablo wrote. “Git’n Off” was actually the first song I ever wrote without using a sample as the main piece. I’m not much of a keyboard player, but I composed my songs around organ riffs, and then, had Pablo add the fly stuff on guitar.

V. How would you describe the typical recording process behind The Du-Rites LP; let’s just say, for example: “Bug Juice?”

Pablo: “Bug Juice” is Jay’s masterpiece on this album; “Hustle” is mine. This combination defines very well who does what in The Du-Rites. For “Bug Juice,” Jay sent me the track with the drums, organ, and bass for me to add the guitar. I took a Psychedelic approach, so they are hypnotic, but not the main thing. The drums are everything on that song. I ended playing bass because my bassline kicks a** and made us sound strong.

J-Zone: I played bass on a lot of songs, but Pablo ended up replacing most of them. I played bass as a kid and can throw down some lines, but he’s got a better ear for which basslines work. He also has that Fender Telecaster bass that just sounds amazing. The only cuts that survived with me on bass are “Neckbones,” “Moving to The Moon,” and “Ghetto Ferris Wheel."

VI. What might you likely deem as some of your greatest sources of influence and inspiration during the creation of The Du-Rites LP?

Pablo: I use all the influences I have at once and try to not think of any particular sound when I’m writing because you end up writing too close. I used everything I know from Funk to Stax [Records] to Tom Tom Club and everything in-between. I used Dub and Disco techniques, but without thinking about any specific ones.

J-Zone: I’m a big late 60's-early 70's Funk fan. All those obscure bands that put out 45's back then and disappeared—that was what inspired me most. I have a monthly DJ gig playing that stuff, so it’s ingrained in whatever I do. That stuff was a bit raggedy sonically, vocally, and even from a writing standpoint, but the musicianship was so good and the grooves were so strong. A lot of early Funk bands were actually Jazz cats doing R&B stuff because it paid more. So, there’s a Jazz influence, as well. Pablo mentioned Stax and of course, there’s Motown, Kool & The Gang, and The Meters, but I was also really inspired by lesser-known bands like Dynamic Corvettes, Ray & His Court, Warm Excursion, Willie & The Mighty Magnificents, and The Counts.

VII. How do your “extracurricular” bands you play in together (PABLO & Lulu Lewis), and even separately, ultimately play into The Du-Rites’ sound or are they solely separately functioning entities unto themselves?

J-Zone: The Du-Rites is a different type of groove than PABLO or Lulu Lewis. PABLO may dip into Funk territory when we jam out, but the songs are more Punk Rock and LuLu is Punk Rock and Blues. It’s soulful and groovy, but not as syncopated as The Du-Rites stuff, as far as drumming goes. It’s a whole other bag, but I still sound like myself regardless of what I’m playing. I just had to get used to the pulse of the Rock stuff because it’s different, more straight ahead. Playing with those bands made me a better musician because the other cats (Walter Baker & Bill Harvey) are veteran players and really [talented]. Being the least experienced musician in those bands, I had no choice but to keep it together. It got me out of my basement and out on stage, playing with good musicians. That’s what it’s about!

Pablo: The Du-Rites is its own thing, separate from any other of my other projects. It’s Funk by the book; pure, so no other direct influence besides having no fear of being raw and dirty, which is what I do with my other bands. However, the experience of Lulu Lewis & PABLO are highly affected by The Du-Rites with the concept of groove first. I’m lucky that Jay is kind enough to drum with me on that stuff because it takes it to another level, but also I think it was great for Jay to come out of his comfort zone and dip into Rock "N" Roll a bit and learn from it. Plus, I hooked him with Walter & Bill (and later, with Dylan Hundley for Lulu), who are not only some the best in NYC, but some of the nicest I know.

VIII. How did each other’s past works including, but not limited to Tom Tom Club, Danger Mouse, Lulu Lewis, Broken Bells, and J-Zone’s Hip-Hop albums ultimately end up affecting The Du-Rites' new-found Funk-tastic sound?

Pablo: I used everything I know, including Lulu and [Tom Tom Club]. There is always a lot to use from your own experience. That’s key and more valid than using other pointers or influences that are not exactly your own.

J-Zone: I think my background in Hip-Hop gave me a feel for what gets heads nodding. As a sampling producer and DJ, I also have a sense for what’s funky and how drums should sound in a mix. I think my ear is the most important thing I got from Hip-Hop that I use outside of it. The melodic stuff Pablo brings is what makes The Du-Rites appeal to a wider audience and makes it more than just breakbeat sh*t.

IX. Do you fellas have any immediate plans to concoct any sort of Du-Rites remix of vocal album with emcees, producers, vocalists, etc?

Pablo: Yes, but right now we’re just anxious to put the record out and see what comes out from it. I’d like to think we’re a rhythm section like the old days, like The MG’s, The Funk Brothers, or Sly & Robbie, to name a few. We can work with anybody at any time in any style.

J-Zone: What Pablo said. I also think “Du-N-It” would sound great with Steve Arrington on it! I like instrumental music better than vocal stuff, personally, but the reactions I’ve gotten from people all say they’d love to hear how a Charles Bradley or someone of that ilk would sound over the stuff. I’m open for whatever.

X. What do you have planned next, following The Du-Rites LP’s 10/21-11/18 release on Redefinition Records... any current plans for a tour, music videos, more 7-inch singles, etc?

J-Zone: To tour we’d need to hire other musicians to play bass, percussion and keys. We can both play multiple instruments, but we overdubbed our asses off—there’s only two of us!

Pablo: We have a video documentary being released with the album and I would like to do another video in the way I did with Lulu [Lewis]. We’re anxious to see the record come out because we had a few stressful points with the manufacturing of the 7-inch. So, we want to put the LP out to wash that out and then keep moving forward.

XI. I know it’s a bit of a “sore subject,” but would you care to briefly speak on The Du-Rites’ recent “Bug Juice” b/w “Hustle” 7-inch pressing error? How many 45’s were ultimately salvaged and do you have any current plans to re-press and properly release it?

Pablo: Basically, we were played by an a**hole at the pressing plant, who’d promised us fast turn-around at a regular price, but lied and failed us at every stage of the process. He tried a lot of tricks with us; from refusing to refund our money to crazy stuff like Blocking us from social media and spying on our pages to see if we were trashing him. The most potentially damaging thing he did was [lecture] us about the way we do our releases because that type of talking can ruin good relationships. So, once we got 100 (barely) out of the 300 we initially ordered, we moved out, in bad terms; we lost money on sales and we risked credibility, but instead of getting us down, we came out of this with an authentic rarity in our hands: a collectible!

J-Zone: Yeah, that was a nuisance. Every plant is backed up; vinyl is unpredictable and I totally understand that, but this situation wasn’t necessarily about turn-around times. The plant just didn’t communicate with us. The 7-inch machine was broken, at one point and we didn’t know til weeks later. 66 of those 100 records had visual defects, so I had to email my customers after the records were sold on Bandcamp and let them know about that and offer refunds. And only having 100 units, the wholesale price shot up to $7.00 for records with defects. It wasn’t a good look. Luckily, the customers didn’t really trip about it. At this point, we’re exhausted from the whole situation and want to move forward on a positive note. If you’ve got one of those 7-inches, you have a collector’s item!

XII. You’ve previously stated that “The Du-Rites’ music is already being featured in a major film in 2017 and if you need a theme song for your fried chicken joint, [we’ll] get it done;” are you able to divulge which “major film” you’ll be appearing within and have you heard anything from any fried chicken joints yet?

Pablo: I’m not sure if can divulge the name... but yes, it is true, we’re the opening song on a major film in 2017. It’s actually a vocal track; we did the music. We were the writers and rhythm section backing the singer/rapper.

XIII. Would you care to briefly speak on The Du-Rites LP's lone (digital-only) vocal track, "Moving to The Moon" and it's correlation to our nation's current political situation?

J-Zone: "Moving to The Moon" was an idea I had after the album was already submitted for vinyl and tape manufacturing. I wasn't sure we'd be getting our 7-inch single in time (or at all), so I figured we could do some bonus material for the digital version—plus, we had time to do it. Besides the intro to "Neckbones" and the banter at the end of "Du-N-It," there was no vocal presence on the album. I want this album to be seen as totally separate from what I did as an emcee and be taken seriously for the musicianship, but on the same token, it wouldn't really be a J-Zone-related record without some type of commentary. So, I just went to Facebook and wrote down the statuses and news stories that annoyed me the most and made a poem. The bit about Washington Square Park was an observation from when we shot the album cover and press photos there. Musically, I did the drums, bass, and keys on that one, then sent it to Pablo and told him to shred at the end.

Pablo: No, if there is something where the corporate structured government succeeded was being able to make any kind of protest manifestation, a song in this case, by not giving a sh*t, [I] didn't want to be part of that. Basically, Jay wrote the song [and] I shred the guitar out of 7-inch issues anger.

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