Creating a unique genre of music coined Go-go Brass Funk, The Brass-A-Holics were making addiction look good last night at their album release party. Popular all over the city, but especially at their Thursday night spot, Publiq House, The Brass-A-Holics know how to kick-off a good time. With the help of producer Irvin Mayfield, I Am A Brass-a-holic,showcases the best of the band’s unique sound and badass beats.
The party was hosted by the stylish digs of Republic and guests were greeted by a red carpet photo op outside the venue. As the drinks started flowing, the night unfolded with Partners N’ Crime and The Big Easy Bounce Band who got the usual suspects up and out of their seats as the energy mounted. One exuberant man in particular lead flocks of uninhibited movers to the dance floor to exhibit the kind of energy NOLA is all about.
By the time The Brass-A-Holics took the stage, the BAH Nation was full throttle. From original jams like “A Good Night” and “Get it In” to the best cover of Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” and leading into “OPP” by the one and only ODB, a palpable and genuine enthusiasm for this band of laid back, kool cats took center stage. With everyone up out of their seats, swaying to the swag laden jams, sickness set in and the crowd went wild.
Obviously, this set had me throwing back Abita Ambers and ready to party well into the night. But before things got too crazy, I got to sit down with Duane Muhammed (congas and percussion) and Jason “Slick” Slack (tuba) before the show to see what makes The Brass-A-Holics so fresh.
Where Y’at: Who are the Brass-A-Holics? Outside of your music, what do the Brass-A-Holics stand for?
Duane Muhammed: Oh, wow…
WYAT: Too much, too soon?
DM: If I had to say one word, it would be diversity, because everyone is different you know, everyone is from different places, everyone has different backgrounds, everybody has different tastes in music and styles of dress and everything.
Jason “Slick” Slack: Diversity is a big part of it, but the biggest message to me, is if you speak Spanish, I speak English and you speak Portuguese, we can all understand a song. It’s a universal language. It connects everybody in the world. It’s the only thing I know that connects everybody in the world. And that’s why we have a diverse band.
WYAT: New Orleans is a city consumed with brass bands, in your opinion, how do you stand out from the rest?
DM: Well, first of all, we don’t consider ourselves a brass band. We are a Go-go brass funk band that has New Orleans brass band elements in our music.
WYAT: What is DC Go-go exactly?
DM: DC go-go is a style of music that originated in WashingtonDC by the late, great Chuck Brown.
WYAT: I feel like traditionally, a brass band was just a brass band, but now, it’s starting to be a little different. You guys have a little bit of everything. Can you elaborate on that?
JS: I know what she’s saying, I can clear this up. If you look at any popular live band, they have trombones and trumpets. If you look at Frankie Beverly and Maze, they have trombones and trumpets. If you look at reggae bands, they have trombones and trumpets, but it’s not brass anything until the tuba is in it. Once you put the tuba up there, you’ve done it.
WYAT: But with you guys having like guitar and percussion, that is becoming a modern norm in brass bands. Back in the day, it was just a brass band, what can you say about that?
JS: Right, but if you think about it, you don’t hear Frankie Beverly calling himself “Frankie Beverly Brass Band” even though he has a trumpet and a trombone. It’s nothing brass until the tuba is up there. That’s where that brass element comes from. You know, a bass cannot take it up all the way, he can’t give you that. But he can sustain and hold notes longer than a tuba can, so but, we are The Brass-A-Holics, we basically recognize what we came from. We all came from marching bands, we all came from second line bands, it’s something that we did and the brass title is representing New Orleans. Put it like this, we can still do a second line if we want to, see what I’m saying? Whether its acoustic instruments or electric instruments, we’re like an 18-wheeler, we’re gonna keep going. That’s the beauty of it. Like we had the power go out in the Maison one night.
WYAT: Tell me about that!
JS: I think it was New Years
DM: Yeah, it was New Years
JS: See, the power went out. BUT, unlike some other bands, we were still able to play. We might have lost the guitar and the keyboard, but we were still able to play. See there’s a lot of good things about having the brass elements. Everything you hear out there is a different flavor. When you put it all together, like you’re not going to hear a real brass band play Journey, you’re not going to hear a real brass band play “Living on a Prayer.” You’re not going to hear a real brass band play “Time After Time,” but because of those other elements we have in the band, we can play anything we want to play.
WYAT: The brass is like the roots, but it’s everything else that allows you to innovate a little bit more?
JS: Yeah, it’s like a car. You still need someone to drive it.
WYAT: Do you agree with everything he is saying?
DM: Yeah, yeah.
WYAT: Alight, let’s talk about the album. This is the first album for The Brass-A-Holics?
DM: This is our first album, we’ve been together for about two years and um it’s a long awaited and anticipated album because people come to our shows and they want to know where they can buy the CD because they enjoyed the show. It’s unbelievable to them that we don’t have a CD, so you know, a lot of people have been waiting.
WYAT: What’s the difference between the dynamic that you got to experience in the studio and the on-stage dynamic?
DM: Um, it was different…It was different because we were used to the stage shows including all of the energy from the audience. When you’re in the studio you’re just in this closed in space. You don’t have that energy and that makes it a little bit different.
WYAT: What was it like working with Irvin Mayfield?
JS: It was wonderful, he was there, you know and a couple of the guys are really good friends with him, so it wasn’t like too business-y. He’s a friend of the band. It was more like a friendship thing, kinda like an eagle you know, when you drop them out of the nest and see if they fly. You got to fly! But he was there, making sure we were successful in our endeavors. He was a big part of everything. It was just wonderful.
WYAT: Do you guys have any good fan stories from the BAH Nation?
JS: Yeah! I got a really good one. One night, we rocked the stage, really hard and we had given away shirts, this was for Jazz Fest. So we had a lot of impersonators. And the gig was over. We had a really good night, and I walked outside and this guy said “Hey man, I need you to do me a favor” and I said, “What’s that?” and he says “Hey man, look, this girl thinks I’m in the band because I have on the shirt. Will you just walk up and say “Don’t be late tomorrow” or something?” And I was like “Ehh… I don’t know. Show me the girl.” And he’s like “Nah… because she’s rightfully yours.” So I was just like, “Alright I’ll do it for you.” And I went over there and said [in front of her] “Hey man, where’d you get that shirt from?”
WYAT: Aw! That’s not nice. You blew him up! Was she cute?
JS: Yeah, she was cute!
WYAT: What about you, Duane; got any good ones?
DM: I just remember the time at the Blue Nile and we played so hard, they just didn’t want us to stop. They kept saying “One more! One more! One more!” jumping up and down, the floor was shaking, they wouldn’t let us get off the stage! So that was a pretty memorable moment for me.
JS: There’s actually a YouTube video of that called “Brass-A-Holics Held Hostage at the Blue Nile” I put it up!
WYAT: Alright, last question: What’s next for you guys? Do you plan to take the BAH Nation worldwide?
DM: I hope so! Especially now that the CD is released officially, I think we will be able to reach a wider audience. We’ll be able to take our music to the East and West coast.
WYAT: Is there a difference in the energy of the audience elsewhere compared to New Orleans?
DM: I don’t see a difference. I think the BAH Nation is the same all over.
WYAT: Anything else you two want to say?
DM: Yeah, I’m feelin’ that band, what they call it? Word on the street, it’s the Brass-A-Holics!