The vibes of eight-member ensemble, Funk'n'stein - The Band have become local groove and funk trailblazers. They began seven years ago, performing covers.
"After five years, we decided to make a record of original material [we had been adding to the show]. I guess the seven years are the evolution of the band in terms of sound and relationships that bands go through," says bass-player and vocalist Shaham "Chakamoon" Ohana, 27.
While the big-haired guys have boasted a faithful following, they only recently garnered general attention with their first eponymous album release.
For a debut album, Funk'n'stein - The Band wowed critics and fans alike with a whopping 33 tracks - the first disc includes 16 original tracks; the bonus disc has 17 tracks, with previously released singles as well as funk jam sessions.
"This CD has a lot of groove and love and good intentions. You can listen to it when you want to dance and when you want to chill," says vocalist Elran Dekel, 29. "The groove pulls you in and I believe the lyrics keep you there."
The band's music includes strong horn rhythms, solid bass lines, prominent percussion, smooth vocals, sharp guitars, and most importantly the upbeat attitude required for this style of music. While Dekel and Ohana are the unofficial spokespeople of the group, and write the majority of the lyrics, which are in English, all the members have a say in the music: Sefi Tsizling (trumpet, vocals), Yair Slutzki (trombone, vocals), Alon Freeman (keyboards, vocals), Tamir Barzilay (percussion, drums), Shlomi Alon (saxophones, flute) and Elai Botner (guitars) make up the rest of the octet.
"I think Israelis love English music... and [there are a lot of local bands singing in English] including Izabo, Flying Baby," says Ohana.
Dekel adds that the album is "aimed at both foreign and Israeli audiences," noting that he doesn't like to "put anyone aside."
Israel's club goers are often a better barometer in terms of what music will sell than the record companies. "A lot of young people like to go out and have good music and dance to funky grooves no matter where the music comes from," says Dekel.
"One of my greatest issues is that I can't be in a Funk'n'stein concert as part of the crowd," adds Ohana.
While still making a name on home turf, the guys are also keeping their fingers on the pulse of Europe's funk scene.
"Next is overseas," sums up Elran. "We really want to go to Europe and we're working on it really hard. We feel like ambassadors in some way. If people can see what's going on in Israel and that it's not just shooting and bombings, but also good music and good vibes and good people actually that are living here. That would be the best job that we can do. There's a great music scene in Israel and great art and people should know that."
Funk'n'stein - The Band grooves things up in Tel Aviv at the Barbi Club on April 27 and at Jerusalem's Ha'ma'abada on April 28.
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