Interview with Derrick Johnson from YO MAMA’S BIG FAT BOOTY BAND; Playing @AURAMusicFest in Live Oaks, Florida! @bootyband
Bring on the funk! With a name like Yo Mama’s big Fat Booty Band, you know these guys are in the game to get folks moving and shaking, and everyone could use a bit more sweaty dance floor nights in their lives. Currently supporting their sophomore release, Doin’ It Hard, this colorful sextet from Asheville, North Carolina has been on the music circuit for over a decade, bringing their lively energy and genre-bending approach to fans all over the country.
A featured act on this year’s installment of AURA Music Festival happening in Florida from February 15-17, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band is one you won’t want to miss, so get out to one of their shows and shake what yo mama gave ya! I got in touch with trombonist Derrick Johnson to discuss their approach to writing and performance, their tunes, and how they get down when the night falls!
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
D- John-Paul Miller (JP)/ Guitar/ Florida
Greg Hollowell/Sax & Flute/ Michigan
Al Al Ingrahm/ Bass & Vocals/ North Carolina
Mary Frances Newcomb/ Keys & Vocals/ Virginia
Lee Allen/ Drums/ North Carolina/
Derrick Johnson/ Trombone/ Alabama
G- You released your second album, Doin’ It Hard, in March of this year. Can you tell us a bit about your tunes? Where did you find the inspiration to write your new material?
D- Doin’ It Hard was a mixture of old and new. It was a vision of taking part of the old Booty Band and adding elements of new; a new vision, new sound, and maturity in the compositions/ musicianship. We had gone through a couple of member changes over the years but finally settled into the right chemistry as players, and this album is the preface to what is to come. The songs on this album started to show a complexity that only musicians that are comfortable with each other can do.
One of my personal favorites on the album is the song “True Battle.” I think there is just the right balance of vocals being supported with a great rhythm section, accented by horn counter melodies that augment the melody. Also there is a really tasteful and well thought out guitar solo.
G- What is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
D- Our writing process has multiple variations that lead to songs. Sometimes we will just starting playing until something feels right and then refine the song. Other times someone will have an idea or a full song, and then present that to the band. Even then songs are refined until we feel that we have a complete song
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you were to give someone who had never heard Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band 1 track to make a new fan, which one would you give them, and why?
D- I think that it’s tough to just have just one song that would be a favorite. Every song speaks to a different part of the soul. I think that if I was going to turn someone new on the Booty Band, I would play two songs; “The Den” and “@$$.” They have to different ways of us preaching our mantras. “The Den” preaches “If your life ain’t what you like, then make it like what you want.” That is a big part of the Booty Band; empowering everyone to make the most of life and we’ll provide the sound track. “@$$” is the other part of our mantra; when all else fails just shake your butt, and dance your worries away. Sometimes people just need to dance, have a good time, and forget the worries of the world.
G- It’s a funk band, and funk bands always bring out the party animal in folks… Are you guys a party band, or generally pretty mellow? What kind of beers and booze do you want people bringing up to you onstage this time around?
D- I think we’re a half and half band. We love to party and cut up, but there are those days when we just want to chill, crack a few beers, and dig on some vinyl. The band breaks up in to Porter and Pale Ale drinkers on the beer side and Bourbon/ Whiskey on the liquor side. LOL. As far as shots on stage we’re just grateful if they show up while we’re playing.
G- What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? I’m not trying to spoil any surprises, but can we expect any new material or special appearances, and what should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
D- Fans should expect some new hot tracks that we’ve been working on at The House Of Groove. There are some awesome things in the work, but I can’t say what. People will just have to come to a show to find out. Just know that we have been racking our brains on the next big thing from the band, and we will not let people down.
G- You’ve already played many shows with a plethora of acts, but are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could pick 3 bands to go on tour with that would make up your feasible Dream Bill, who would you select?
D- We hope to do some shows with Orgone and Beats Antiques. As well as continuing to do shows with Galactic and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. There have been talks of a Booty Band/ Fishbone national tour in 2013. I think a dream bill for the band would be Red Hot Chili Peppers/ Lettuce/ Booty Band.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
D- I think that one of the most memorable moments for me was when we opened for Wide Spread Panic at Jazz Aspen. We opened and also played the after party. The after party was where the real fun started. We received a phone call say that Bernie Worrell (P-funk/ Talking Heads) wanted to sit in with us. So we had the festival backline some keys for him. At one point we decided to kick our version of a P-Funk song Joyful Process (we call it fried chicken). At that time our old drummer looks over to Bernie, and ask him if he knew the song; in which Bernie looks at him and says “I wrote this song.” Then he played the original Clav part and took the song to the next level.
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
D- I think the best advice I can give is to have fun, and take advantage of the moments. Not everyone gets to pursue their passion so use it to your advantage. Go for a hike with the band or do something that you would never imagine doing. We went dog sledding as a band, and it was one of the best moral boosts that we could have had on the road. Touring is not the easiest thing, but if you can keep it fun on and off the stage; you can enjoy touring for a long time.