The Monsters of Funk
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These days it seems everyone and his undead brother is eager to talk about the upcoming zombie apocalypse – the benefits of canned versus fresh food, where to store one’s water supply, the deadliest weapons to stockpile for the inevitable blood and brains bath – but maybe what we should really be preparing for is the invasion of a bunch of sexy mummies. Allow us to repeat that phrase: a bunch of sexy mummies.
Bear (bare?) with us for a moment. Perhaps reanimated corpses swathed in ribbons of cotton resembling so much toilet paper aren’t necessarily what come to mind when you think of swiping right on Tinder. It’s possible that what gets you hot under the collar has nothing to do with the ancients’ answer to embalming. Fine, fine, but the eight-piece funk outfit Here Come the Mummies just might have something to teach you about sex (sax?) appeal. To them, nothing is hotter than a mummy at the mic, be that mummy armed with a horn, a pair of sticks or a steamy set of pipes.
And, if you’re in the audience at the Embassy Theatre Saturday, October 15 when Here Come the Mummies come to town, you could be surprised to find yourself agreeing with them. Who can argue with HCTM’s 16-year track record of leaving area audiences drooling, gasping, baying at the moon for more? Since 2000, they’ve toured the U.S., sticking mainly to the Midwest and shallow South, making their fair share of stops in Fort Wayne to remind fans why they’re big hits not only with local live audiences but loyal “Bob and Tom” listeners as well.
They’ve also released a slew of spooky fun albums, including Terrifying Funk from Beyond the Grave, Everlasting Party, Single Entendre, Carnal Carnival, Bed, Bath, and Behind and this year’s Underground. And they’re already at work on the follow-up to the latter.
Their individual, federally recognized identities expertly kept under wraps since their inception, the band consists of Mummy Cass(anova) on guitar and lead vocals, Eddie Mummy on drums, KW TuT on bass, Spazzy Mummy on keys, The Pole! on bass, Midnight Mummy on bari sax and syntar, The Flu on bari sax, BB Queen on trumpet, Mummy Rah on tenor sax and Will Pharaoh on trumpet.
That’s 10 members, right? But we’ve already called them an eight-piece. That’s because not every mummy plays every show. A Here Come the Mummies gig can be not only physically but mentally taxing, especially when you consider the fact that, according to the band’s official back story, most of these dudes clock in at roughly 5,000 years old. (Rumor is they were kicked out of Egypt for getting a little too friendly with a pharaoh’s young daughters.)
It might also be the fact that these dudes are secretly Grammy award-winning session musicians living in and around Nashville, and sometimes their mad skills are needed in the studio.
Regardless, when you go to a Here Come the Mummies show, the mummies you see and hear are what you get. And what you get, according to mummies Cass and Midnight, is music that changes how your brain functions.
“An unrelenting frontal assault on your inhibitions and the urge to ‘make it shake,'” explained Cass in a recent interview.
“Musical insanity that will be etched on your frontal lobe,” added Midnight.
A writer with a blog called The Weirdest Band in the World put it this way in a review from a few years ago: “They entered conga-line-style through the audience. Their percussionist, Java, broke out everything from a tricycle to the infamous Cowbelt to get the crowd involved. There were synchronized dance moves, jackal statues with red LED eyes, a keytar solo or two and an audience participation dance called the ‘Fenk Shui.’ (And yes, I participated. Trust me, you would’ve, too.) Oh, and their horn section killed. Even the obligatory flute solo had soul.”
Pretty intense stuff, but anyone who’s ever attended a HCTM show knows they’re intensely goofy, in addition to being world-class musicians who bring the funk night after night. What, incidentally, is the secret to their trademark funkiness?
“We’re preserved to slow the process of rotting, but over the centuries, you could say we ‘ripened,'” Cass said. “This is how we got so damn funky. Now, with electric instruments, we can really let it out of the cage, y’know?”
“Being ancient Egyptians, and cursed by a great pharaoh, mummification was inevitable,” he continued. “Now we are half-dead, searching the earth for the perfect riff, so we can finally rest. That was the curse … And, they pulled out most of our brains through our noses. How do you like that?”
People like it. They really, really like it. Proof is partially in the fact that they have shared the stage with the likes of P-Funk, Al Green, Cheap Trick and Mavis Staples. And that when they start to play, fans lose their minds, hearts and sometimes their underwear.
“We just act natural,” Midnight said, by way of explaining his and his mates’ unparalleled and downright otherworldly sex appeal. “Plus, we have been marinating in pheromones for eons.”
Here Come the Mummies aspire to the level of funk achieved by their heroes, legends like Sly Stone, James Brown, Ray Charles and Billy Preston. I wondered who they considered the single funkiest musician to have ever taken the stage, and what, if they had the chance, what they might ask that person.
“There are a lot of funky cats we could name,” Cass said, “but Stevie Wonder always comes to mind first. I’d ask him, ‘What planet did you come down from?'”
Here Come the Mummies – residents of planet earth as far as we know – are coming to Fort Wayne as part of their 2016 Love Fest Tour. They’re not a Halloween act per se, so the timing of their mid-October gig is a sort of lucky coincidence. And now ticket holders have the time and advance notice to plan and brace themselves for a funky, full frontal assault on their lives and loins.
So far, so good. So far, so funky. But what if, this being the autumn of our discontent, the zombies aren’t far behind?
“Zombies is a whole other thing,” Midnight said. “We scared of zombies!”