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Published: 2013/08/08
by Austen Krantz

Dumpstaphunk’s Dirty Word

Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk has just released Dirty Word, the quintet’s third collaborative studio release that came together about as organically as the band did following its first performance together at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2003. While that show brought together a then-temporary lineup for Ivan Neville’s solo performance, it wasn’t until a chance jam at a late night Bonnaroo set in 2006 that Dumpstaphunk began a fulltime gig.

They’ve significantly grown following that fateful performance. Dumpstaphunk remains one of the most popular touring acts out of New Orleans, now boasting a new drummer and singer, Nikki Glaspie, and two recorded works with a third soon to be released. And this record evolved with little pressure. Dumpstaphunk gradually pieced together Dirty Word over the course of a year from some songs the band performed but never recorded, opportune collaborations with huge artists and ideas birthed out of jams, sound checks and studio work.

Have you guys been playing tunes off of Dirty Word at recent shows?

We actually started playing a couple of songs from the record a while ago, and we didn’t really know we were going to put them on the record. There was at least one song that was a cover that we started playing. A song called “If I’m in Luck.” It was a song that was done by Betty Davis, when Nikki first got in the band which was about 2 years ago. I think about after a year, she had been in the band coming up on a year maybe. We started playing that song maybe that long ago. And then it was a cool song to incorporate her — her vocal experience. And it was something she wanted to do, so we started playing that. And we ended up putting that on the record

And then there was another song called “Blueswave.” It was written by Nick Daniels who plays bass and sings in the band. He had written that song a while ago, and it was just one that we had. We started playing it on the shows and it was killing, and we ended up putting that on the record as well. Other than those two, there’s maybe one other one we had played a little bit. It was a song that was done by Larry Graham — Graham Central Station. It was a song called “Water” and we started playing that several months ago I would think. And we have that on the record as well. And just recently we played a couple of the others here and there.

You mentioned “If I’m in Luck,” whose idea was it to do that cover?

It was Nikki’s idea. We had all been fans of that stuff, of Betty Davis’ stuff. We’re fans of Sly and the Family Stone — anything they’ve ever done. And Gregg Errico, who was the original drummer of Sly and the Family Stone is a close friend of all of ours. He had a big part in the making of that record, that first album. I think one of the first records Betty Davis maybe made. I think Larry Graham was on it, with Gregg Errico — two of the original Sly & the Family Stone members and then I think Neal Schon, from Journey of all people was on that record as well. We’re a big fan of that record and recently it had resurfaced. It was some kind of obscure stuff from the ‘70s that resurfaced, and we listened to it. And you know Nikki — we listened to several songs and Nikki said, “I want to play this one song, called ‘If I’m in Luck.” So we said, “Wow let’s check it out.” So we just started playing it and started shredding. And the crowd — people love it when we play it. It’s a great way to showcase Nikki’s drumming and her vocals.

When did you guys start working on the new album, and did you plan on it being as collaborative as it turned out?

Yeah, that’s kind of what we always try to do. We were in the studio for two or three days at a time, we did that over about a year’s time, but we were probably in the studio probably only two-and-a-half weeks recording. We went in a few days here and there when all of us were in New Orleans at the same time, in between the touring. Last year we were touring pretty heavy , so we didn’t have a lot of time so we would go in whenever we had two or three days that worked out and when we were all in the same place, which was New Orleans most of the time. We’d go in the studio and there was not a lot of pre-planning about this, we just had ideas, we had some things we thought we wanted to go in and record and it kind of went like that. There were things we came up with in the studio, there were ideas that were born out of sound checks — just fooling around. We’d record it, and later on we’d listen to and say, ‘Oh this is a cool idea for a song, let’s make this into a thing.” And that’s kind of how “Dancing to The Truth” was born.

A couple of other ideas were born out of different little jams or whatever, and that’s kind of what we did, and we all kinda got in there and brainstormed, and we wrote lyrics and things of that nature, and everybody brought their ideas to the table. “Dirty Word” was an instrumental thing that really had no title to begin with. Ian just riffed, and Ian and Nick came up with a riff and beat section and made a bridge to it and then it became a new song.

How did you guys end up getting Flea on board for “If I’m in Luck?”

I know Flea and the other guys in the Chili Peppers, and I have done some stuff with them. I’ve performed with them on a couple of occasions, and those guys were in New Orleans doing a video shoot or something like that, and I found out and I actually called him and I hit him up. I said ‘What’s up, what you doing? You still in town?” And he was still in town, so me and Ian [Neville] picked him up and we went and got a po-boy sandwich at Domilise’s. He got an oyster po-boy, and we hung out, and I brought him by another friend of ours, house — Terrence Higgins. He’s a friend of ours. He plays drums, he was in the Warren Haynes Band. He was boiling crawfish, so we were over there and Flea could check out the whole crawfish thing.

We were just doing the hang, the hang in New Orleans you know? We said. “Hey you want to go over to the studio and play on something?” So we went to the studio, and he picked up a bass, and we recorded him on the song.

What was it like working with him musically on that?

He’s a great guy he’s an amazing musician, and we just kind of let him have a field day in there. We let him play all kinds of shit, and we kind of pieced it, and put it in where we thought it fit in the song. We have two other bass players in the band and we had to make it work in there musically to where it made sense. The mix was amazing to me that they made it work like that ‘cause he’s playing some stuff in there. He’s playing some other shit that’s not regular bass stuff, he’s playing some other stuff, so it’s kind of cool.

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