NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe speaks to a patron of the celebration, musician George Brown of the band Kool & The Gang, about his new guide, new document, and the “Celebration” of a protracted and funky profession.
(SOUNDBITE OF KOOL AND THE GANG SONG, “CELEBRATION”)
AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:
With regards to celebration music, there’s just a few requirements that everyone is aware of and simply cannot resist dancing to.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “CELEBRATION”)
KOOL AND THE GANG: (Singing) Have a good time good instances, come on. It is a celebration.
RASCOE: These are classics and must-have music on each celebration playlist. In fact, I am speaking in regards to the unmistakable funky groove of Kool and the Gang.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “GET DOWN ON IT”)
KOOL AND THE GANG: (Singing) Get down on it. Get down on it. Get down on it. Get down on it.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LADIES NIGHT”)
KOOL AND THE GANG: (Singing) Oh, sure, it is girls’ evening, and the sensation’s proper. Oh, sure, it is girls’ evening. Oh, what an evening. Oh, what an evening.
RASCOE: The band began making music practically 60 years in the past, however Kool and the Gang are nonetheless at it and launched a brand new album this month known as “Individuals Simply Need To Have Enjoyable.” And because it’s the height of summer season celebration season, we wished to speak to one of many band’s founding members. George “Funky” Brown is the group’s drummer and keyboardist. He joins us now to speak in regards to the legendary group and his new memoir, “Too Scorching: Kool And The Gang And Me,” which got here out this month. George Brown, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.
GEORGE BROWN: It is a pleasure.
RASCOE: In your guide “Too Scorching,” you speak about your early ardour for music – drumming on issues earlier than you had a drum equipment. And also you additionally speak about with the ability to hear and nearly compose full symphonies in your head. Inform us about that course of. How do you flip these concepts into the music that everyone knows and, like, groove to now?
BROWN: Properly, you already know, I am self-taught. And thousands and thousands of musicians are the identical. You recognize, you would possibly simply get that music. You would possibly simply get the groove. Otherwise you get a lyric line with the melody. Or somebody would possibly say one thing, and also you go, wow, that is a fantastic line. And also you write it down.
RASCOE: Like, get down on it (laughter).
BROWN: Yeah. Women’ evening.
BROWN: Issues bought too sizzling for me, man. I needed to get out of there. You recognize, needed to…
RASCOE: So that you grew up in Jersey Metropolis, N.J., and that is the place you met most of the band members when y’all have been simply children. How did Jersey Metropolis affect the band’s sound and the music that you simply made collectively?
BROWN: Properly, we’re speaking about 1964, and Jersey Metropolis is a blue-collar city. None of us have been silver spoon infants. Single mother or father – the moms labored very, very exhausting. All Jersey Metropolis was within the metropolis, that means, you already know, the minority and the hardships. And that lent itself to writing and enjoying a sure method – being untrained, however realizing or instructing ourselves easy methods to play.
You provide you with these concepts that aren’t within the books. You are off the web page. And it comes out a sure method. And folks go, oh, that is new. As a result of the older musicians again then mentioned, boy, wow, you children, man, that is some new stuff you are enjoying there.
(SOUNDBITE OF KOOL AND THE GANG SONG, “JUNGLE BOOGIE”)
RASCOE: What’s the Kool and the Gang sound? How would you outline that?
BROWN: The sound of happiness.
RASCOE: Yeah. I imply, as I mentioned, Kool and the Gang has a brand new album out known as “Individuals Simply Need To Have Enjoyable.” Let’s play a bit of little bit of that right here. I feel the tune is named “Let’s Occasion.”
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LET’S PARTY”)
KOOL AND THE GANG: (Singing) Let’s celebration. Let’s celebration. Let’s celebration proper now. Let’s celebration proper now. Let’s celebration.
RASCOE: How do you and the remainder of the band create music now versus earlier in your profession? Has the method modified?
BROWN: It is modified fairly a bit, however we nonetheless do among the old school methods of writing the music and performing it. We get everyone within the studio nonetheless – drums, actual horns, actual piano, actual every little thing. We would take a loop on a few of them to lock it up a bit of bit, however that is about it.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “WE ARE THE PARTY”)
KOOL AND THE GANG: (Singing) We’re the celebration. We convey the celebration. We make the celebration go.
RASCOE: In your memoir, you additionally speak about among the challenges of fame – a wrestle with prescribed drugs and melancholy. How have been you capable of stability some actually type of heavy burdens and nonetheless preserve your spark for, as you mentioned, like, joyful music, upbeat music?
BROWN: As a result of that is what we do. You recognize, when it was time to go on stage, it is, OK, let’s turn into Kool and the Gang. You recognize, that is what we do. So when it was time to do, we did it.
RASCOE: Yeah. And all the opposite stuff – you set it to the aspect?
BROWN: Yeah, every little thing else goes to the aspect.
RASCOE: As a result of I did need to ask you about that as a result of there have been numerous band members within the Gang over time. Is it tough to be coping with a band and need to cope with different individuals? After which, are you pushed by the chemistry of constructing music with a selected group of individuals, or is it one thing else?
BROWN: It is the chemistry. If the chemistry is there, bingo, it really works. And also you need to make it occur, and also you need to see individuals joyful, and also you need to achieve success with it. And also you need to assist create a tradition, a world tradition, the place individuals come along with that music. That music is bringing individuals collectively and making this one-world tradition larger than it was earlier than.
And while you do music that is joyful music, that is what it does. It brings individuals to the golf equipment to have a great time. And that is what we do. We are saying our prayer earlier than we depart, and we are saying, let’s go make some individuals joyful.
(SOUNDBITE OF KOOL AND THE GANG SONG, “HOLLYWOOD SWINGING”)
RASCOE: That was George Brown of Kool and the Gang. The Gang is out with a brand new album known as “Individuals Simply Need To Have Enjoyable.” It got here out earlier this month, together with George Brown’s memoir known as “Too Scorching: Kool And The Gang And Me.” Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us, and thanks for getting me up on the dance flooring all these years.
BROWN: Sure, sure, sure.
KOOL AND THE GANG: Blessings.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HOLLYWOOD SWINGING”)
KOOL AND THE GANG: (Singing) Hollywood, Hollywood swinging. I bear in mind, not too way back, I went to a theater, and I noticed the Kool and the Gang present.
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