200 shows, three trips across the United States and appearances at Electric Forest Festival, Bear Creek Music and Art Festival, and Wakarusa Music Festival. It’s been a busy 24 months for Earphunk who have seen their efforts propel them from small club stages to packed clubs and theaters across the country. The New Orleans born-and-bred quintet shows no sign of letting off the gas, and now, with the band’s third studio album release of Sweet Nasty, the band has captured the energy that has won over a rapidly growing fanbase of loyal listeners.
Recorded at the storied Studio in the Country in rural Louisiana while on break between tour stints, Sweet Nasty is Earphunk’s boldest release to date. “When you hear the album it sounds like a live show, and that’s how it should feel,” explains lead guitarist Paul Provosty, who also handled mixing duties for the record. “We wanted it to sound big – a true representation of our live show.” The Studio’s hallowed halls provided the proper backdrop for the band’s uniquely organic balance of heavy-pocket funk and reckless prog-driven guitar explosions, or “prog-funk”, as the band refers to it.
The band’s early rehearsals saw Provosty, Mark Hempe (vocals/guitar), Michael Matthews (drums), Michael Comeaux (Bass), and Christian Galle (keyboards/organ) as college students around New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA in 2009 — there were no expectations of national tours and sold out dates. But as things quickly progressed, the option to pursue a full-time career as musicians drove the band to hit the road. “After the first few tours, we were fully vested in this together,” Hempe muses, “and when people are coming to the shows, and appreciating what we’re doing, it gives us the drive to want to step up our game, to be as tight as we can be.”
Years later, the unit’s tireless touring ethic continues to fortify their commitment. “It’s tough leaving New Orleans; this is our home. We don’t get much time back here now, but luckily as we’ve toured, fans have spread,” explains Provosty. “To do this right, you have to keep visiting every market every three or four months, and we’re committed to that. When the shows are selling out, we know our music is resonating. It’s just a matter of continuing to give this thing the room it needs to grow.”
Part of finding the room to grow is recognizing when to reach out to a few helping hands. Saxophonist and close friend Khris Royal (Rebelution, Dark Matter) had contributed his services to past Earphunk records, but for Sweet Nasty, the band was looking to create a larger section. “Everyone in New Orleans, they play with each other. Everyone sits in with one another. It’s a natural thing and that’s the vibe we wanted on the record,” says Provosty.
There are worse places to be than New Orleans when in need of a horn player, and the band had to look no further than Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce, Pretty Lights). “We had been out on the road with Lettuce for a few dates in the Southeast and got to know the guys pretty well,” recalls Galle. “When Eric moved to New Orleans, it was a no brainer. We needed him on the record with Khris.” Bloom and Royal unite with the five-piece in stellar fashion, bringing a proper funk authenticity to high-energy tracks like the Zapp and Roger inspired “Phine” and foot stomping title track “Sweet Nasty.” As George Clinton once mused about the band – “Y’all ain’t your average white band!”
Although the album was recorded, the work was not yet complete. In an age where digital releases and distribution models leave artists with more questions than answers, the band sought for an alternative. The solution was found in a partnership with the emerging publisher platform BitTorrent Bundle. BitTorrent Inc, the company behind the revolutionary peer-to-peer protocol with over 170 million monthly users, describes Bundle as “a revolutionary file format that’s designed to restore digital media to its experiential core.” That’s precisely the type of treatment Earphunk was looking for with the release of Sweet Nasty, which will debut exclusively on BitTorrent Bundle on August 18th. The Sweet Nasty Bundle will be loaded up with exclusive videos, live sets, and artwork to accompany the new album to enrich the fans’ experience.
Sweet Nasty showcases an emerging band with something to prove; yet who are prepared, willing, and ready to define themselves as a premiere national act. And with it’s release locked and loaded, the next step is a familiar one for Earphunk. As the band loads the trailer for their next national trek to support the album’s release, dates and festivals are already being booked for 2015. There are no plans to deviate from this strategy; after all, it’s worked out thus far. “Our fans have done so much for us already on this journey,” explains Hempe. “We just feel beyond fortunate to have this audience and we’re just going to continue working how we’ve been working, so they can feel proud to support us.”
“Anyone who claims that rock and soul ain’t what it used to be, clearly hasn’t heard of these stunning musicians. This will remind you of soul and blues from the late 60’s-with rock from the early 70’s. But probably the most compelling quality of the Dead 27s is how seamlessly they stay true to the pure old school sounds while making their music cutting edge relevant to today’s listeners.” – JamSphere May 2015