Funk-O-Matic is the freshest installment in the old-school funk scene and genre. The music of Funk-O-Matic centers around the synthesizer bass, the groove, the dance floor and the party. Imagine that funky old-school, show band sound combined with contemporary neo-soul beats, catchy lyrics and high energy vocal hooks. It's all here in this new band and their premier CD entitled: "HIT THE FLOOR.”
Funk-O-Matic was created by three soulful veterans of the live, sixth-street funk scene in Austin, Texas. After being signed to the Razz-Ma-Tazz label, members of Funk-O-Matic immediately began the intense collaborative process --bringing their live funk talents together (with L.A. studio producers) to create this international release--all guaranteed to excite funk fans the world over! If you enjoy high-energy dance funk, with slick production and infectious grooves, this disk is for you!
Funk-O-Matic is fueled by front man, singer, songwriter and producer Clark Stevens, who has worked closely with Ronnie Wilson of The GAP BAND to produce this funk masterpiece.
A Brief History of the Producer:
Stevens was formerly employed by “Babyface” in L.A. as a musician, engineer, technical consultant and studio manager at YabYum/SONY records. At the Babyface studio, Stevens contributed his engineering expertise and multi-faceted instrumental talents with recording artists such as: Jon B., Lauren Hill, Aaron Hall (Guy), Coolio, Tevin Campbell, Toni Braxton, Portrait, and many others. During this chapter in his life, Stevens worked daily at TraKen Place studios in Beverly Hills, where he also did session work for K-Ci and JoJo, Tupac, Seal, Teddy Riley, Portrait and AZ Yet. During his tenure at YabYum/SONY, Stevens was the resident guitarist for Cyrus Melchor (a producer for Bell, Biv DeVoe). Together they worked on countless hip-hop tracks in the late 90’s.
Flash forward ten years. Stevens is signed to the L.A. indie label Razz-Ma-Tazz records. He begins writing and recording with his bandmates: Bill Reed (keys), Ron Posey (bass) and Laurence Jarvis (drums). Enter Ronnie Wilson, founding member, keyboardist and producer of the legendary GAP Band. Then add Grammy award winners Jaime Lagueruela, Michael Morales and Ron Morales. All of these seasoned professionals contributed their critical ears to the fine-tuning of this L.P. funk classic. Add this one to your collection and tell a friend to do the same. Be on the lookout for the next Funk-O-Matic record. . . coming soon to C.D. Baby!
Track Notes from the A&R Department at Razz-Ma-Tazz Records:
Track 1.) Don’t Waste No Time. This song fuses the unique elements of old-school funk together with what is happening (structurally and lyrically) in today’s pop R&B genre. The disc starts off running strong with this huge, analog synth bass coalesced with an infectious chorus hook and dance groove.
Track 2.) Feel the Funk. This one has radio single written all over it. Slick production on this cut, with stellar engineering by Rick Alvarez (who also hailed from the Babyface studio camp). Great wah-wah guitars and precise instrumentation which includes tight organ, synth and brass.
Track 3.) Hold on to Ya. Total modern club beat mixed with 80’s funk style here. This track has an unforgettable guitar solo and synth bass breakdown. Here come the robots! Stevens pulls out the old Roland vocoder on this one for added old-school/freakazoid flavor.
Track 4.) Wait up all Night. The synth bass on this cut is off the chain! Great melody with yet another screamin’ rock guitar solo. By the time you get to the fourth track you may start to detect the influences which developed Funk-O-Matic’s unique fusion--they include hints of Jesse Johnson, Zapp and One-Way.
Track 5.) SHAME. Time for a shift in gears. This is a smooth neo-soul cut with deep, innovative style and jazzy finesse. Great lyrics and bass line combined with a laid back R&B vocal vibe. The song is also complimented with a fusion jazz, soft synth solo. Listeners of this genre can tell that Funk-O-Matic producer Clark Stevens clocked some serious, influential studio hours with Jon B. and Babyface before writing this song. Dig it.
Track 6.) All Ya Ladies. This track is a favorite for the D.J.’s. If you’re searching for a new, dance floor magnet to bump in the club, look no further! Funk-O-Matic combines the old-school synth bass, 808 drum machine (with the live drummer), tight-pocket rhythm guitar, vintage synthesizers with an unforgettable chorus. Razz-Ma-Tazz records wishes to thank Robin Anderson, chief engineer and synthesist at the Creation Station for his excellent contributions here. This song required Anderson to blow the dust off of an entire room full of vintage synthesizers. His skills in programming analogue synthesizer patches made this song bump. The track is peppered with vocoder hooks which flavor the funk stew to an even higher level. This will make you dance.
Track 7.) Let’s Do it Right. A total flashback to “back in the day.” This is a live band recording. Remember standing in line to pay cover at the club, when you could hear the live band from outside on the street? This song showcases Funk-O-Matic in their live element. When you see them live, this is the vibe. Come on in, “Let’s Do it Right.” And don't forget they do play live shows--mostly in Texas and California right now. An extensive national tour is in the works!
Track 8.) Bringin’ it Back. Many of us in the A&R Department wanted this song to be first on the album. Production consultant Ronnie Wilson described this track as “the most clever song on the album.” Producer Clark Stevens said, “This one here is a respectful tribute to the original creators of a mystical force in the universe known as the funk.” The concept of “bringin it back” is great idea so let’s do it. Wilson also stated that “this one has potential hit written all over it.” As the lyrics suggest, “You know that you’ve got to get your groove on tonight.” Influences on this one include: Lakeside, Brick and Cameo.
Track 9.) Make Noise Tonight. This one might best be described as a contemporary, hypnotic, Hip-Hop club bumper. However, the production breaks new ground again in the merging of genres. Check out the distorted 60’s guitar in the background amidst the tight hip-hop drums and rapping. Track nine incites the dance floor crowd to chant “Oh Yea!”
Track 10.) Everybody Get Low. Loud rock guitar intro followed by a robot who commands the party people to get low--then you hear sounds of the mother ship taking off into outer space. The groove drops in hard and you’re feeling the effects of the funk. This jam re-visits the live band sound again. In the middle of this track Stevens pulls off an 80’s lead guitar solo ala Van Halen. “Shake yo boo-tay low to the ground!”
Track 11.) Let’s Take a Ride. The vibe is on. The lyrics provide some vivid imagery here. Turn it up loud. Visualize yourself, leaving the club (after last call) accompanied by a special friend. You drive out the Pacific Coast Highway to a dreamy crib in Malibu-- and there, you dance the night away on the back patio--with a backdrop of ocean waves. The bass is earth shattering on this one. The groove is solid and perfect for a late night ride. “If you’re lookin’ for the party jump inside.” For some reason, this one is extremely popular with the ladies, so fellas have this one stored in that special playlist and ready to go.
Track 12.) Just Come Over. Can you say new jack swing? Funk-O-Matic is showing off instrumentally here. Drummer Laurence Jarvis is really swingin’ tight on this one. He plays with impeccable precision and his groove always locks with the synth bass. Jarvis was unavailable for comment, we believe he is back in L.A. doing time in the studio again. Smooth electric piano and searing synth solos collide after a cold rap verse. We hope to hear more of the new jack swing vibe on Funk-O-Matic’s second release. Influences here might include a little Tony, Toni, Tone as well as Bel, Biv, DeVoe. An I-pod favorite.
Track 13.) Hit the Floor. The title track is bangin! From the get go, that massive synth bass jumps out, grabs you and pulls you out onto the floor. High energy vocals and claps make the party people come to life. “Every night when ya hit the floor, everybody in the club gonna have some fun.” This track features Ron Posey’s analog synth bass and poppin’ electric string bass in yo face. The sound of this album may be an eclectic fusion of genres, but the concept is effectively simple. It’s all about having fun with the groove.
We hope you enjoy one or all of these tracks from a band that shows tremendous promise in the world of funk and a bright future in the recording industry. Look for them live at a club near you. Thank you for supporting new, original music and enjoy the funk of Funk-O-Matic.
Excerpts from an interview with singer, songwriter and producer, Clark Stevens by Christina Longoria--Asst. Director of A&R for Razz-Ma-Tazz Records .
C.L.: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
C.S.: James Brown and Jimi Hendrix mostly. Lot’s of old funk records and vintage rock stuff.
C.L.: What concerts did you attend in your life that were life changing events?
C.S.: I remember seeing James Brown, Zapp and Mother’s Finest in huge concert venues. Those shows were a complete wake up call. I later saw Jeff Beck live (three times) and he made me re-evaluate the way I wanted to play guitar. Later, I saw the Gap Band perform in Austin--with a thirteen piece band. They blew my mind. The costumes, the dance steps—everything. I was already a huge fan, but then when I saw them live, I was star struck and inspired to study and write the funk.
C.L.: What is it like working with Ronnie Wilson (of the Gap Band) in the studio?
C.S.: It’s inspiring and intimidating. Ron is so candid. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Just when I thought I was close to being finished with this record, he convinced me to re-cut half of the vocals, change the bass tones and octaves., change the claps and all kinds of stuff. Then I had to re-mix the whole record. . .but it was well worth it.
C.L.: Did you ever think you would be working in the studio with one of your funk hero’s ?
C.S.: No. I worked with lots of "celebrities" in L.A., but I never imagined I would be in the same room with a veteran funkateer like Ronnie. I respect the Wilson brothers as much as say Cameo, Prince, James Brown. When I worked in L.A., I never had that feeling where I was nervous or intimidated by celebrities. But my first experience with Ronnie was different because I had studied his music and admired the creativity of the gap band for so long.
C.L.: How was it “different”?
C.S.: The first time I met Ronnie, I was called in to play guitar on another project he was producing. I was so nervous, I couldn’t play, my hands were shaking and I was a wreck. He got me to settle down and we had a great session.
C.L.: Earlier you said Ronnie was candid. Could you give us another example of how he was candid?
C.S.: Well, again it was a situation where I needed a series of reality checks. Sometimes you need more ears to tell you what needs strengthening and in some cases what needs tightening or simplifying. Ron had me re-arrange the song SHAME after I thought it was finished --and now the end result is much stronger because of his ideas. He also was responsible for changing the instrumentation on several tracks. I remember him saying, "you need to add more of that rock guitar." In all cases, I think his suggestions improved the recording tremendously.
C.L.: What was it like playing live funk on sixth street in Austin, Texas. . . you know. . . back in the day?
C.S.: Intense. Our drummer would always yell at the front line--Get your steps together, lock it in the pocket! No slackin', make it tight front line! It was challenging, but mostly it was unforgettable fun. The crowds were amazing. The bands were high energy and competitive. We would always jump across the street during a break to see what the other bands were playing, sometimes sit in and run back to start another set. We were all competitive, but really supportive of each other. Back then, we would mostly play covers. But it was like an olympic competition when it came to the entertaining the crowd. I remember we always rehearsed in an old warehouse during the summer. We taped mirrors up to the wall so we could see if our steps were in sync. Nobody cares about that part any more. Those were difficult days. I remember living in a van one week and then on the top floor penthouse of a Houston hotel the next. It was a roller coaster, but it was all well worth it. We were paying dues. No one can pay for musical entertainment lessons like that. Each member of this band tests positive for the funk now, as a result of playin' all those live gigs back in the day. I know all the true, old-school party people are gonna dig this album. We are already working hard on the next one.
C.L.: I can't wait to see you guys live, and I know we are all looking forward to another great album.