Longtime funk admiral Bootsy Collins is in town tonight, and he has a message for Minneapolis on this the Official Day Of Funk at First Avenue (we just made that up but it might as well stand). Let your freak flag fly, he says. It's worked for him, and it damn sure should work for you.
Rock And Roll Hall of Famer and standout member of Parliament Funkadelic, Bootsy is touring this summer in support of his new guest-heavy album, Tha Funk Capital Of The World, featuring the likes of Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Chuck D. and Sheila E. (as well as call-to-action vocal cameos by Cornell West and Rev. Al Sharpton). It's his first album in five years.
Bootsy talked with Gimme Noise over the phone about tonight's show and what we can expect, and overall the takeaway motto of course went something like, "expect the unexpected." Here's what he had to tell us.
[jump] GN: Bootsy, how are you this fine day?
Groovy, groovy, baby, how are you? Where are you calling me from?
GN: Minneapolis. We're excited to have you at First Avenue. Have you played that club before?
Yeah, I believe I've been on stage there a few times. [pauses] Oh, man, so that's where we're at, huh!
GN: I think people are excited to see you there because there's such a funk history here.
Yeah, well, we're just gonna add on to that funk history, baby.
GN: The new album is really fun, there are so many awesome guest stars. You worked with Sheila E., who is a longtime friend of this city.
Oh, she's a doll. We laugh and joke, but when it comes to her gettin' down, she just goes and does her thing. She does her own drums and is just a perfectionist. It's a delight to have people like that to work with who have been around and know when it's time to get down, baby!
GN: What will it be like to perform songs from this album if you can't have your whole posse with you?
We play everything with the theory of funk, and that theory is that if the funk is there, you use it, and if it's not, you go with what you've got. And you better write that down, that sounded pretty good.
And it rhymed, you know? That's the basic theory. Everybody has different schedules, so to do a record like that is one thing, but to do a tour like that would be pre-planned well in advance.
GN: What can a fan expect then with this tour with you on stage? Will you be playing hits from the past?
Yeah, hits from the past and songs from the album. So they can expect both, probably a tribute to James, a tribute to Jimi, a tribute to Parliament Funkadelic. It's where I get my funk from. Things of that nature will be included in this show. Music tells me what to do, and if I were to jump ahead, it would be compared to me talking about something that I don't know about. I haven't spoken to the music yet. The music is my leader. I think fans will be happy because we will funk them like they've never been funked before. I will give them what they're waiting for.
GN: One thing people admire about you is your wild sense of style. Curious to know if you have a favorite stage outfit?
Wow, I don't think I've ever been asked that. A favorite outfit? That's like asking to pick a favorite song. Wowwwww. Hahaha! You kinda got me with that one!
GN: Well, every time you're in the press you are always wearing something amazing.
Yeah, I just never think about a favorite because for me it's like choosing a favorite person or a favorite pair of glasses. They all tell a story and they all are important for whatever that moment is. I know what you mean, but it's hard. What's your favorite girlfriend, you know? What's your favorite boyfriend? I've just never thought about it.
GN: Obviously your stage presence is important -- is it even something you think about anymore?
It's all expression. If you can express yourself musically, then you should be able to express your style, whatever you are feeling, whatever you want to wear. Music opens that door, and ever since that door has been opened, I just do it. Young people really gravitate towards me for this -- not that I'm almost 60 years old now -- but moreso the part of wow, he's got the nerve to do this or do that. I never gave that young mind away. It's always there and it wants to express itself, and I allow it to do that.
GN: That's so funny because my next question was, "You're an advocate of freedom of expression; what advice would you give to someone who wants to let loose and step out?"
Oh yeah! You have to face the fear. It's just the fear of what people might say or how they might react. But when you say FUNK THAT, and just go for it, you know, you accept and you flow. Whatever it is you want to do, you can take it there because it only makes you stronger if that's what frame of mind you're in. It's all a preparation, a transformation. If you like where you're at, then fine. If you don't, step out on faith. Step out and trust something other than yourself because your self will always tell you you can't do that or you ain't cool. But when you say FUNK THAT, that takes a lot of courage. Today's world has a lot of ways to tell you what to do and how to look. So for a youngster to step out and express him or herself, that's a magical thing.
Do you ever see young people breaking away and doing their own thing?
I think the time will come, but it's going to take some creativity and courage. I was sort of making that statement in using guests like Samuel L. Jackson. We're all just saying, 'Express what you feel' - you don't have to be a musician to be on an album. I see young people attempting to break outside the norm but they still stay in boundaries, which is sad. When I was coming up, you didn't have all this information so you didn't know where the boundaries were at. There's so much info now, it's scary to step outside yourself. But it really should just push you that much more when people just want you to stay in. It takes another kind of person, another kind of weirdo.
Definitely. Keep representing, Bootsy.
Yes ma'am! We will see all you fine people in Minneapolis!