The Road to CukoRakko: Tanner Brown of Steady Flow May 14, 2018 14:38
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As this concept has continued to evolve each year, festival producers have decided to bring the spring festival to Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Saturday, May 19th, while still having plans for a full-weekend festival in October.
The spring festival will now be known as CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day event held in the heart of Birmingham which features a wide variety of world class talent from across the country. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko experience, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of this year's performers. For our first installment, we caught up with Tanner Brown, lead guitarist of Steady Flow. See below for the full interview, and stay tuned for additional preview coverage in the near future.
From the Heart of the Midwest, Steady Flow brings a unique style of powerful funk music like you've never heard it before. Formed in 2012 by 18 year old, soul guitarist extraordinaire, Tanner Brown, and his older brother, Ky "Goonie-Mom" Brown on bass guitar, the group has now transformed into a six-piece funk-powerhouse, quickly claiming their spot as one of the best live acts around.
In Steady Flow's short existence, the group has taken on music festivals such as North Coast, Summer Camp, Phases of the Moon, and the list goes on. The band is constantly turning heads at every performance as their hard hitting Funk Rock compositions shake the room and force all audiences to dance, rage, & simply feel good.
Steady Flow released their first EP, "The Oneoff Sessions" in 2013, and their debut album, "Loud." in June 2015. The band released their newest full length album, "Do You Like That?" in April 2017! Do not miss a live show near you. Steady Flow is "The Future Of Funk."
Steady Flow came to life in 2012 and has since evolved into a six-piece power funk force. How did things begin, and when did you realize that this band had serious potential?
Tanner: When I was a junior in high school, I started to obsess over any type of music that made people’s asses shake. Once I discovered The Meters and Funkadelic, I knew it was something I needed to be involved in. My brother and I have been playing music together since we were toddlers. When I was 12 and he was 15, we played in a cover band with our dad on vocals. So, we were always surrounded by music, and knew we we’re going to be in a band together. It was just a matter of time. Our shared interest of rock ’n roll and hip-hop converted to funk, and we started writing grooves.
I remember posting flyers up at our community college that said “Looking for horn players and keyboardist to join funk band.” That’s how I met Cody “The Sensei” Ward on sax. The rest is history. We just had fun playing together and when we performed live, it seemed to rub off on people. I think we realized our potential when we first headlined the coolest venue in our hometown, the Peoria Riverfront Landing and over 800 people showed up. We freaked out, big time.
You released the debut EP, The Oneoff Sessions, in 2013 and followed with the debut album, Loud, in 2015. It's been just over a year since your second album, Do You Like That? How do you feel the band has progressed over these three releases?
Tanner: Oh, wow. We’ve learned a lot. The first two releases, we had no idea what we were doing. Our last album Do You Like That? shows the band maturing quite a bit and getting a lot tighter. We went through some turnover with our lineup during the first two releases, so I feel like Do You Like That? is our first real album, you know?
Have any plans been made for your next studio release?
Tanner: Absolutely. We’re putting out a new record this Summer. That’s all I can say right now.
Watch Steady Flow's music video for "Do You Like That?" here:
The touring schedule has clearly picked up as the band has grown in popularity. How valuable has this experience been for your growth, both individually and as a band?
Tanner: Insanely valuable. For one, it’s a miracle if you can find a group of guys that are willing to drop everything and travel around the country playing music. It’s a tough living, no doubt; so many ups and downs.. But when you’re surrounded by great band mates, as well as fans that enjoy the music and atmosphere, nothing beats it. You learn a lot about each other when you’re confined to a van and hotel rooms every day. The funny part is, when we started the band, none of us would ever just “hang out.” Our personalities were way too different.. But now that we’ve been on the road so much, we’ve grown into this crazy family with hundreds of inside jokes, which by the way is the only way to get through a tour. Inside jokes. Stupid ones.
I'm always particularly intrigued by the song-writing mechanics within a predominantly instrumental band. How does Steady Flow go about creating new music?
Tanner: It’s always changing. When I write, it’s very riff based. So, I’ll have a guitar riff that I’ll send to Cody (Ward) and say, “do whatever you want with this..” Everybody throws their ideas into the mix. Sometimes Cody will write a tune, 100% by himself, and bring it to us. For me, I’m always thinking about drum patterns/grooves before I even think of melody, which might be uncommon. But I like finding beats/feels that we haven’t touched yet, and build from there, all while picturing a live show atmosphere. I went to so many shows growing up that when I write tunes, I’m thinking about being in the audience, and what I’d like to see and feel.
I feel like the jam/funk scene is as strong as it's ever been in 2018. You've had the chance to share the stage with some killer bands, both at festivals and clubs. What are a few of the highlights?
Tanner: Last year, George Porter Jr. of The Meters sat in during our set at Peoria Blues & Heritage Festival. And like I said before, if it wasn’t for The Meters, there would be no Steady Flow. So that was a “Holy shit” moment for me. We played “Just Kissed My Baby” and I almost pissed myself. Other than that, we had Sammi Garret from Turkuaz sit in with us recently at one of our sold out shows in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They are one of the hottest funk bands on the scene right now so that was a fun moment. We’ve also been rocking with our homie, Boogie T, a sick emerging DJ from New Orleans and one of the coolest dudes i’ve ever met.. Flava Flav sat in on drums with us in Wisconsin. That was a trip. I’m trying to get Action Bronson to sit in with us at Summer Camp in a few weeks, so hopefully I can report back and update this list of awesome-sauce.
You'll be playing as the sun sets at CukoRakko Fam Jam in Birmingham on Saturday. What can attendees expect from you guys?
Tanner: All of us sweating our asses off. Giving it 110%. A lot of head banging and booty shakin’. Kicking off the festival season proper. See you there.