Unconventional might just be the best single term to sum up Vancouver party band Five Alarm Funk.
“I think that is a very good word out of all the ones in the human language to describe us,” said Tayo Branston, the band vocalist and drummer. “To be able to have the ability to play unconventional music and still have people grasp it, have fun with it and enjoy it, is really what makes my heart tick.”
Gruff funk vocals, psychedelic rock guitars, Balkan-inspired horns and intricate arrangements fill their fifth studio album, Abandon Earth, which they released last month and will be bringing to the stages at Boonstock July 31 to Aug. 3.
The concept album describes the destruction of planet Earth by a giant robot with Five Alarm Funk in its grasp. It’s the culmination of 10 years of relentless touring and the 10 musicians’ love for high octane, delirium-inducing dance music.
“Over the winter I was spending a lot of time on public transit and the ideas just started coming to me,” said Branston of their latest album. “The idea of humanity and technology getting way out of control and actually destroying the Earth is a very prevalent thing with what society is dealing with these days. We just wrote it in a fantastical way.”
The well-timed explosions help tell the tale of a technological behemoth rising from the centre of the earth and unleashing a torrent of natural disasters and monsters on humanity. The idea of the concept album seemed like a logical step for the band.
“Five Alarm Funk has always lent itself to conceptual music because the songs we write, even before this album, were very saga-esque and thematic. This one is more rock orientated though,” said Branston.
The video We All Scream was released in June and has become an online hit with over 31,000 views. It features Five Alarm Funk trying to rescue their congo player, going to battle with all sort of henchmen hopped up on the diabolical ice cream man’s creations. The album was produced by Ben Kaplan, whose recent credits include fellow Vancouverites Mother Mother and UK superstars Biffy Clyro.
“Ben Kaplan understood our story and understood the power, the almost angst and fun, that came along with it. He was able to capture our instruments in the studio and make them sound like they have the power that Five Alarm has on the stage,” said Branston.
Five Alarm Funk’s critically-acclaimed fourth album Rock The Sky was released in 2012 and was nominated for Instrumental Album of the Year at the 2013 Juno Awards. The band is known for its wall of energy on the stage with choreographed movements coinciding with their melodic climaxes to full-on head-banging. With over 500 shows under their belt, they spent this past summer touring, hitting festivals and clubs across Canada and the United States.
“We had about 25 shows in 25 days and now we are making our way back west,” said Branston. “The energy that the crowd has is what we feed off of. This is what is fun for us. It is the purpose of our lives, the energy comes along naturally. When we go out on stage we are going to rock and roll as hard as we can.”
There will be three chances to catch Five Alarm Funk at Boonstock. They will be playing the Shuswap Stage on Aug. 1 with The Boom Booms, Rykka and Half Chance Heroes. They then will play the Skaha Beach Stage on Aug. 2 and the Shuswap Stage on Aug. 3. For more information visit www.Boonstock.ca.