Interview: Josh Ferrell of Mother Funk
The formation of Mother Funk was all too easy as five brothers of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Alabama discovered a mutual interest in playing music. The quintet has been playing nonstop since 2012, crafting a genre-hopping sound where the diverse influences and musical tendencies of each member come together in unity to create something truly unique; yet familiar. We recently sat down with Josh Ferrell (rhythm guitar/vocals) to recap a big year and find out what’s next.
Mother Funk began in similar fashion to many other bands; jamming during free time in college. When did you guys decide to seriously pursue it and take things to the next level?
JOSH: I don’t know if there was ever a specific instance where we said let’s go for it... I think that because of the hard work and time we were putting into writing original music, and playing at different places, things just naturally started escalating for us. Still a long way to go though and we’re excited about it.
The nightlife and abundance of bars in Tuscaloosa makes for a nice opportunity to play local shows. How and when did things progress towards expanding your market?
JOSH: In February of 2013, we started getting some help from an entertainment agency called Music Garden, based out of Montgomery, AL. They were the ones who really started booking us in other places around Alabama outside of Tuscaloosa. From there, I think our concentration on social media really helped us expand into the Southeast. We kept watching our social media outlets grow and sure enough more and more people were messaging us asking if we’d come play their event/party in places all over the south east and as far west as Arkansas. It’s still happening all the time, and it’s really cool to watch.
What has been your approach towards writing your own original material and taking it to the studio for the first album, Coastal?
JOSH: We knew we wanted to release an album by January of 2014 and had been jamming songs like “Cajun Lady” and “Spaceman” for a while during shows. They seemed to be well liked so far, so we had a rough outline in terms of the direction we wanted the album to go in. We spent two separate weekends at Burnham’s lake house, just writing and jamming, and that’s where we came up with the bulk of the album. It was an awesome time ,where we were just living and breathing music 24/7. From there, we went to the Brown Owl in Nashville to record the tracks. Four days later, the finished product was our first album, Coastal. Overall, it was an incredible experience and we’re excited about recording a second album.
Greek Fest in Tuscaloosa has led to the band playing with several major nationally touring acts. How have those shows impacted the band? Any good stories you can share from those nights?
JOSH: They’ve impacted us tremendously. The knowledge and advice we’ve gained from some of them are invaluable. I personally grew up a huge DISPATCH fan so getting to play with them at Costa Greek fest in 2013 was unreal.
We've got two good stories from that night. So we show up at Greek Fest for sound check and start unloading our stuff out of our 5' x 8' trailer. They parked us right next to Dispatch’s red tour bus that was hauling their 8.5 x 32 foot trailer. Fairly intimidating moment to say the least. While we’re unloading our stuff, Brad Corrigan (drummer of DISPATCH) walks out of the tour bus, barefoot, eating a slice of cantaloupe. He walks right up to the five of us, introduces himself and says “Alright, alright. Before we talk about anything else...favorite album of all time. Go.” We all went around and shared ours and Davis Hudson, our bass player,struck a note with Brad when he said “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This was Brad’s favorite album too. We end up hitting it off, and it wasn’t long until Chad Urmstrom and Pete Francis walked out and started chatting it up with us too. They were the coolest.
The second part of that story happened later that night. We were out in the crowd, after our set, listening to Dispatch’s set. After their 3rd or 4th song, Chad Urmstrom says, “How about Mother Funk"? The crowd gave a satisfying cheer. He was giving us a personal shout out. “We got to chat with those guys back stage, and we really enjoyed their set. We look forward to seeing what those guys are going to do in the future. Let's hear it one more time for the guys of Mother Funk!” I can say without a doubt, that was one of the coolest moments of my life. Hearing one of your favorite bands endorse your music in front of a crowd of 15,000+ people is pretty awesome.
Looking back since that first gig, which performances stand out the most? Are there any particular cities/venues that you guys always look forward to playing?
JOSH: One that really stands out to me is a show last May. We were playing with Zoogma at the Riverwalk Amphitheater in Montgomery, AL. We were anticipating opening for them, but one thing lead to another, and we find out the day of the show that we are going to headline that night. So Zoogma kills it, and we get up there and start playing for a crowd that was already really pumped, which makes it fun for us too. Towards the end of our set, right in the middle of "Instrument of War" as the song is hitting the peak; they killed all of the lights at the Amphitheater, cued the fire works and absolutely lit up the sky.
I think we would all agree that although we love playing at different places, our favorite place to play is probably at home base; Phi Gamma Delta in Tuscaloosa, where it all started. We still know a lot of the guys there and it’s consistently an excellent time.
How is the timeline for 2015 looking currently, and what can we expect from you guys over the course of the year?
JOSH: We’re really excited about 2015. For the next 3 months, we’re really concentrating heavily on the writing process for album #2, and we’re hoping for a 2015 end-of-year release date. I say that with a bit of hesitation, because at the same time, what we’re really stressing amongst ourselves for this album is patience. We really enjoyed writing and recording Coastal, and overall we’re happy with how it came out, but there were definitely things we feel like we rushed. For album #2, we really want to take our time and take it to a new level.
We’re going to be playing a lot late this spring and moving into the summer. We always keep our shows up to date on our social media accounts: Facebook, ReverbNation, Bands in Town, etc.
Josh Ferrell – Guitar & Vocals
Burnham Hawk – Lead Guitar & Vocals
A.C. DeMoss – Keys & Vocals
Casey Peranich – Drums
Davis Hudson – Bass Guitar