Volume 93, Issue 92
Thursday, March 23, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Dalai Lamas bring peace of P-funk
©Gazette file photo
By Adam Bailey
Hailing from the intergalactic funk portal known as Saskatoon, the Dalai Lamas are among the hippest and freshest acts to come out of Canada in a long time.
After several changes to the band's roster and a poorly received album in '97, the band has been going strong in its current configuration since 1998.
Refusing to buy into the progressive-alternative scene, the Dalai Lamas create a masterful blend of hip-hop, psychedelia, jazz and heavy old-school funk. It's groovy enough to get even the most stagnant Nirvana fan sliding their body to the breakbeat.
Heavily influenced by the P-Funk movement, the Dalai Lamas are bringing back the big bass guitar days of yore with tracks like "Black Belt," "Lift It Up" and their first single, "Precious." Tracks from their latest, independently produced album, 1999's Return to Funk-Fu Alley, are featured a great deal in their live shows. "We play a lot of covers to relax the crowd. Stuff that they recognize like James Brown and Hot Chocolate," explains band member Vincent Spilchuk.
After playing festivals in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Lamas have gathered quite a loyal following. This ample fan base has allowed them to make an album that is 100 per cent Lama produced they are not yet supported by a major record label, which gives them complete creative licence. "We've never had any help from anybody before, why should we need it now?" Spilchuk asks.
The Lamas are currently touring Canada with hopes of building an even larger following. All six members play a litany of instruments which, in addition to the traditional fare, include horns, digeridoos, organs and synthesizers. The band also have a set list of over 20 original songs. "There aren't that many bands like us," Spilchuk boasts. "It's cool."
Although Spilchuk feels more at home in the studio than the stage, he admits the live show is an integral part of any band. "The stage is where you learn what the crowd wants. So [it's] really important to us as well," he says. Although modest about the quality of their onstage performance, the Dalai Lamas can turn a small club into a tangled, bouncing orgy of funk and sweat. Their onstage presence is awe-inspiring.
After playing a show with the Touchtone Gurus in London tonight, the Lamas will be wrapping up their tour in Winnipeg next month where they will move back into the studio to cut some tracks for the next album.
When questioned about their peculiar name, Spilchuk laughs. "It's totally incidental. We think it's cute and funny, sort of like calling ourselves 'The Popes.'"
If the Pope had as much flava' as these guys, he wouldn't just be cute and funny, he'd be God.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000