Like many bands, Vancouver’s Five Alarm Funk have always attempted to reproduce aspects of their live performance in the studio. The ambience, energy, and raw, loose, feel of a live band is often prized during the production process; however, when a group has as much relentless enthusiasm as Five Alarm Funk does, it can become difficult to adequately convey this energy simply because there is just so much of it.
When writing the material for their brand new studio album Abandon Earth, Five Alarm Funk decided to step up to the challenge and try to encapsulate the absolute mayhem of their live show. Tayo Branston, lead vocalist and drummer of the nine-piece group, was eager to discuss what could quite possibly be their most ambitious album to date.
“Five Alarm Funk has always been about more than just the music,” Branston explains. “Our live show is such an important part of what we do. And this time around, we tried to create a record that would essentially be the equivalent of our live show: massively energetic, in your face, and super heavy.”
Abandon Earth is definitely all of that. Chock full of giant, balkan-flavoured, horn lines, punchy, overdriven guitar leads, and tight, infectious percussion work, the album harkens back to the group’s roots as an afrobeat tinged, old-school funk band. It also showcases their progression towards an increasingly heavy funk-rock style.
As a concept album, Abandon Earth tells the story of an evil ice cream man who injected his ice cream with psychedelic drugs in his quest for global domination. This humorous narrative provides the album with the playful element that has always been an important element of both Five Alarm Funk’s music and their live performances, while creating a fluid storyline which was designed by the band to mimic a psychedelic trip.
Five Alarm Funk is back, and they are bigger, badder, and crazier than ever. To witness nine shirtless and dancing men whipping crowds into a frenzy for yourself, catch them when they hit your local venue on their summer tour.
Five Alarm Funk spread their signature good vibes with a show at the Commodore Ballroom on Saturday, June 7th.
NOTE: This article has been updated.
By Robert Gorwa
Photo: Johnny Liu