Volume 91, Issue 61

Friday, January 16, 1998

Mr. Rogers


INDIE SPOTLIGHT: Music that's stranger than funk-tion

©Matt Wilson
I CAN HAVE MY CAKE AND PLAY IT TOO. Bassist Benny Wilson of London's Strange Bargain skips his dinner and goes straight for the funky dessert.

By Rod Refcio

Gazette Staff

Among the many musical genres available, none can be more diverse in interpretation than funk. Strange Bargain is the latest band to emerge that strives to put its own distinctive twist on the funk groove.

"I don't like to cap a style – it's just my own personal brand of funk," says Strange Bargain lead guitarist and singer Matt Wilson. "However, I will admit that I've been influenced by everything from The Beatles to George Clinton."

The London-based trio consists of Matt, his brother Ben on bass and drummer John Selbie, who all contribute to developing the band's unique sound. Although the group has only held its present line-up since April of 1997, each band member boasts an extensive musical background. Matt, who holds an honours degree in music from Western, serves as the principle songwriter, but credits his brother and Selbie with adding the abstract ideas that make up the band's core pop-funk groove. Although the resulting sound remains distinct, it can best be described as a combination of Ben Fold's Five and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Despite these funk roots, the band enjoys pushing the musical envelope and never shies away from trying new rhythms. "I'll beat on my brother's head to get a sound if I think it'll fit," comments Matt – only half-jokingly.

As with many young and up-and-coming acts, Strange Bargain's experimental nature carries over to its live performances which are often described as high-energy free-for-alls. "I've often been told I look like I'm on speed when I get up on stage," affirms Matt. All of the band members are veteran live performers and feel most comfortable when they have a chance to observe the audience's reactions to their wild, eclectic stylings.

Although the group prefers to remain fresh and funky while performing live, they have recently put together a compilation album, tentatively entitled You Should See My Bottom, which is set for release in February. With this album, the boys hope to further expand on their local following which boasts over 75 faithfuls who subscribe to their monthly newsletter.

As Matt states, "Right now, we just enjoy playing and we'll see where we go from there." You can catch this new high-flying funk band tonight at The Embassy, as they headline a funk-filled line-up.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998