Q&A: Zoofunkyou

The new year has only just begun, but Zoofunkyou has already entered 2018 in full swing. On January 19th, the Chicago-based jam band will be embarking on their first extended tour starting with a hometown show at Chop Shop. The tour covers most of the Midwest and a number of funk-infused cities across the south and follows their first 2018 release; a live album recorded during their October 27th show at Bottom Lounge.

Vocalist and guitarist Derek Dare, guitarist Bryan Scheinkopf, bass guitarist Matthew Coglianese & the band’s manager Andy Boyd gathered in their practice space at Kildare Studios to share their tour details and to discuss the rest of their plans for 2018.

Listen Live and Local: The January 19 show at Chop Shop marks the start of a Zoofunkyou tour. How do you guys feel being only weeks away from your first extended tour?

Derek Dare: We’re pretty excited, but we’re also learning. To be completely honest, we don’t have that much touring experience yet. We’ve done a bunch of one-offs. We just recently went to Cleveland, Ohio. We’ve done things in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Milwaukee [and] Michigan. [This tour] definitely went through some transformations.

Bryan Scheinkopf: At one point we were thinking about going west, but we kind of decided to stay in the Midwest and go down south.

Andy Boyd: A lot of [booking the tour] was me asking them, “Hey, where do you want to play? Is there a city that you really want to play in?” That’s kind of why we’ve got the trip going down south and not east. We wanted to play in New Orleans. We wanted to play in Austin. Our tour also got shaped a little bit because the music industry is all about the relationships you build. We’ve got friends in Starkville, Mississippi because [Matt] met them, what was the festival last year, Peach Fest?

Matthew Coglianese: Yeah, so our neighbors [at The Peach Festival] were these people from Starkville, Mississippi. We started partying with them and shit and they mentioned this band Tesheva. Then we went home, months later we’re talking about going to Starkville and I’m like, “Wait, I have friends in Starkville! We can stay in their place.” Andy starts looking up bands in Starkville. He hits up Tesheva and I didn’t put it together. After [the show date with Tesheva] was already [set] I was like, “Wait, that’s the band that I met through the girl at Peach Fest.”

Boyd: I didn’t know Tesheva was their band. I hit them up trying to book a show because I follow them and as soon as I hit them up, Matt goes, “Dude, those are our friends. We know them.” I brought that one up because we got that show really early [and] things kind of formed off of that. We got a Friday date for that, and we have Thursday in Bowling Green and Tuesday [in Iowa City] leading down there.

Scheinkopf: And it’s about to happen again because we just got confirmed somewhere [out west] in April.

LLL: Usually the start of a tour means new music is on the way. Do you guys have some new tunes up for release soon?

Scheinkopf: Eventually we’ll be recording an album, but we’ve [just released] a live album [recorded by] Marshal Towsky.

Boyd: This is a live album from our performance at the Bottom Lounge with The Main Squeeze on October 27, 2017.

LLL: Your last EP, Island #36, was released in 2016 and features beautiful album artwork. Who designed that?

Coglianese: Cassidy Kapson.

Dare: We only had four songs recorded and I met up with Cassidy and I was like, “Listen to these four songs and come up with four sketches by listening to each number.” She gave them back to me after a week. One was like jungle-themed. One was floating islands and trees and I think she said it was for “No Keeper”. That song basically describes being in love with someone and they don’t love you back. We kind of just went with that vibe and it totally worked.

Coglianese: What about the one with the ladies? Did she have that already or did we come up with that? The front was the woman, but the backside of the actually CD has a man who is blue on another island off in the distance. It’s kind of like this longing for each other. One is orange with blue and the other is blue with orange. It’s kind of melancholy, but the colors are beautiful.

Boyd: Obviously we always try and put time into our artwork as well [as the music]. We put time into all the little things that come with releasing an album or releasing anything publicly. We’re already talking about our live album. The artwork that we have for that, we’ve got how many different pictures?

Scheinkopf: We probably had ten or so different options. All very minimalist. They were made by a guy named Matt Mitchell.

Boyd: He does a lot of live paintings for us too. That’s the kind of thing that when you go to one of our shows, you’re going to see a guy painting. You’re going see a light crew. Not always, but there’s going to be multiple things you’re going to see going on at one of our shows, on top of the awesome music.

LLL: What are some other qualities that set you apart from other bands, especially other jam bands?

Coglianese: Not to put the spotlight on Derek, but most of our lyrics in the past have been written by Derek. Derek, you like to have meaning behind your lyrics. You don’t want to just be singing about some dumb shit. I don’t want to be picking on bands, but a lot of jam bands just have like, this is a song about dancing. Everybody dance!

Scheinkopf: I think we try to dig a little bit deeper than other bands. [For example], The Main Squeeze has this whole logo and kind of ethos that is a squeezed orange. We had the idea that we should really engulf ourselves in that imagery, so we bought, I want to say it was like 25lbs of citrus and a bunch of juices and all sorts of stuff and literally through it all over each other [for a promo video].

Boyd: Like Bryan was saying, we were opening for The Main Squeeze so we incorporated imagery that another band uses just for that show to kind of make a big thing about that. It worked. It was very popular. It was very creative. It was visually shocking.

Coglianese: We were like, “Let’s have this party,” and our drummer Jake [Hennessy] was like, “I’m going to fill my bathtub with orange juice.”

Boyd: I remember us just being like, “You have to do that.” So [Jake] gets into the bathtub and it was too clear at first. I was like “Dude, I can see your compression shorts. This is not working.” So we put a bunch of milk in there to thicken it up. And a bath bomb. An orange bath bomb.

Dare: They went to Lush to specifically find that.

LLL: Opening for The Main Squeeze is a great accomplishment. What have been some other milestone moments?

Scheinkopf: To be on a bill with the two guys of MOE, Chuck and Vinnie with the Willy Waldman Project was just like, my heart.

Dare: Yeah, we had the chance to open for all of them. They did all sorts of improv.

Scheinkopf: Jake the drummer and I both got to sit in with them. I still dream about that.

Dare: It was interesting interacting with some of those guys. They were giving us weird stories but at the end of the day good advice about things. It was definitely enlightening. Definitely, something we’d do again.

Coglianese: If you don’t know who Willy Waldman is, he’s like a secret legend. He plays trumpet and he played trumpet on a bunch of Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Sublime and a bunch of random hip-hop [recordings].

Boyd: [Waldman is] very respected in the industry, but if you Googled his name, it’s not going to come up with a billion links and TMZ articles. Derek was talking about the advice he was giving; he kept telling me, “I like you guys cause you seem cool and just want to hang out.” We weren’t coming up to him being like, “Oh my god Willy! Oh my god you’re Chuck and Vinnie!” We got pictures with them and kind of fangirled afterward. We were treating them like human beings and I think that went a long way. These people want to just be treated like we’re bros with them, not like we’re worshiping their feet and the sand that they walk on. I think if we implement that in our natural personalities, it’s going to help us go a long way to be able to walk into a random place with a bunch of musicians and naturally fit in.

Dare: Going off our favorite band shows, I think one of my favorites was when we played the House of Blues with Mungion before they were big. That was before Bryan was in the band. Was that before Jake was in the band? It’s hard to remember.

Scheinkopf: We opened for Kung Fu on a whim.

Boyd: We played North Coast. Anybody? That’s mine.

Coglianese: That was probably the height cause I met Les Claypool and I had him sign one of my basses. We won that contest Toast of the Coast.

Scheinkopf: We were so sure Captain Coopersmith sealed the deal cause they were amazing, but apparently we brought enough people.

Coglianese: My mom was there with all her friends and they all had Zoofunkyou tie-dye shirts on.

Boyd: I do want to be a little egotistical for a second. The competition started out online. You submit one song online and then you have to convince your fans to vote. You get one vote every day. We started this competition two and a half weeks after it was announced. Some bands had close to 1000 votes before we submitted and we ended up getting the 2nd most votes and then we won the actual competition. As the manager, I am going to highlight that. It was really cool that our fans, not only wanted to vote once but that our fans voted multiple days and they promoted and posted all about it. It showed us that we have fans. This was our fans actively going out and being like, “Yo, Zoofunkyou should get this.”

LLL: What do you think attracts so many loyal fans?

Dare: We’re actually willing to get invested with our fans and keep up with our friends who support us. A lot of the time bands are so hyped on making the dream happen that they kind of forget about their friends. I think all of us kind of take a step back and make time for our friends, being with them and having fun.

Zoofunkyou’s next show will be on Friday, January 19 at Chop Shop. The night will also include performances by Funk Vendetta, Wanyama and DJ Soul Candy.

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