Volume 94, Issue 37
Friday, November 3, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
London's crazy funk lords
Gazette File Photo
WHO WANTS TO GET FUNKED UP? Local funk heroes rip it up on stage. Check them out tonighyt at Call The Office.
By Aaron St. John
"Chicken soup for the booty."
This is how Warren Tilston, member of the heavy metal/funk/rap extravaganza that is the London-based collective, Zuul's Evil Disco, describes his band's sound.
"It's an eight piece, so there's a lot going on the arrangements get pretty wacked out sometimes. James is a monster on the bass, Ajay's a wah maniac. The music shakes your ass and gets everyone boogy-ing."
He continues enthusiastically, "The show is a visual assualt. Even if you're not totally into the bass humping your face, you're going to have a good time."
Formed more than four years ago, Zuul's Evil Disco has managed to attain great success, while at the same time surviving line-up shuffles. When asked what brought about the departure of the former members of the group, Tilston is cagey.
"I still don't fully understand it. There were personality conflicts. The truth is no family is 100 per cent happy," he says. "We were just eight musicians trying to get through this thing called rock 'n roll. It just got to the point where the band was ready to go hardcore and people had to make the choice to go that way or stick with their safe lives." Tilston pauses and then jokes, "This is why I'm not allowed to do interviews by myself."
When it comes to the response the group gets at their live shows, he's more forthcoming."We're pretty fortunate that we don't have a lot of people saying, 'You guys suck.' We've got a lot of people telling us we're crazy, though."
A typical Zuul's concert is a visual feast, featuring all manners of onstage chaos. While the group has a solid reputation for their incredible energy and their ability to balance insanity and inspiration, Tilston reveals it's not as easy as it looks.
"It takes a lot of practice. We're entertainers and we're never satisfied we're always looking for the perfect show. If you know your music well enough, then you can add in playing guitar behind your head, or making out with a chick halfway through the show," he retorts.
The band's performances are always evolving and according to Tilston, they've recently begun playing with some dangerous elements. "The show has moved on to fire," he laughs. "We did a show in Sudbury and we had a fire extinguisher on stage. I held it up to James and he was like 'Yeah, do it spray me!' So I did, but he was standing in front of a fan and it went everywhere. It was like a smokebomb. The show was pretty much over at that point."
Word of mouth about the Zuul's live experience has proven to be a great asset for the band. "We get a lot of people who come to the show and say, 'Oh man, my friend told me I had to check you guys out,'" Tilston says. "We always have new people coming in and they're spreading the word. It's catching on."
This success has led to the band being able to expand their circuit and play outside of London. Tilston seems most excited about the group's forays into Toronto. "We play there pretty regularly; it's going really well. Eye or Now gave a bunch of bars a bunch of surveys about their live performers and for the El Mocambo, we got best draw and best bar sales. We draw people and they party their faces off while they're there."
So what does that mean for the band as a whole? "We're in a wonderful sitiuation. We can play anytime we want and the bars call us for the gigs," proclaims Tilston. "We're really lucky. The band is a position where we can afford everything we need to keep the band going. No money comes back to us, though, but it's cool."
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