By Zoe Blumenfeld and Sara Williams
Don’t book your $200,000 Virgin Enterprise flights with non-stop service to outer space just yet; the future of funk, Galactic, is landing in Santa Cruz.
Galactic is a funk-jazz-rock band hailing from New Orleans and will perform at the Catalyst on Oct. 27.
Galactic is comprised of Stanton Moore (drums), Robert Mercurio (bass), Ben Ellman (saxophone/harmonica), Jeff Raines (guitar) and Rich Vogel (keyboards). They formed their group in the early ’90s and found their voice within the rich New Orleans sound.
Bassist Robert Mercurio spoke with City on a Hill Press about Galactic’s upcoming album, their left coast tour and Hurricane Katrina.
When Galactic isn’t touring, the band members are busy recording in their New Orleans studio. The studio, newly rebuilt after Katrina, allows the band to record music in their favorite city.
"It was really hard to be the good-time funk band when no one really knew what was going to happen to our city. On the news, it looked like it wasn’t coming back," Mercurio said.
"Now we’re writing songs with titles like ‘FEMA’ and covering [Led Zeppelin’s] ‘When the Levies Breaks,’" he said.
Despite dwindling government subsidized rebuilding efforts and tumultuous race relations in the home of Mardi Gras, Mercurio believes in his city and his connection to New Orleans has only grown.
"When you’re thinking that you almost lost something, there’s nothing but a feeling of strong connection when you get it back," he said.
Galactic’s musical ties have always been with New Orleans. Mercurio recognizes that the music of New Orleans originated with the black community and historically was one of the first places to mix black and white audience and band members: "young and new, black and yellow, everyone," he said.
In addition to the diverse sounds of New Orleans, Galactic has also drawn influences from a more global experience.
"From international touring, we’ve just been exposed to so much new stuff.
But, you’re still going to feel a New Orleans vibe in our music," Mercurio said.
The band members are in the process of recording their first album in three years, which they hope to release in April 2007. Their last record, Ruckus (2003), was released by the infamous underground hip-hop producer, Dan "the Automator" Nakamura (Gorillaz, Dr. Octagon, Handsome Boy Modeling School).
For the album in the works, Galactic is going with another West coast hip-hop producer, Count, who works with many artists of Quannum Projects’ record label. The new album will feature a lot of M.C. collaborations, including Bay Area lyricists such as the Gift of Gab and Lyrics Born, Mercurio said.
But, the real question is, are any of these guys going to show up for the Santa Cruz show?
"I don’t want to ruin anything, but you never know," he said.