Canadas Talent


August 10, 2016

Five Alarm Funk Interview

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Written by: CT
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By Beatrice Hanley


It’s always a great experience when you go check out a band you aren’t familiar with and are completely blown away…Vancouver’s Five Alarm Funk put on an incredible show in Toronto last month at The Horseshoe Tavern. These guys have an amazing stage presence – the crowd was absolutely engaged and enthralled in it. As their bio states, “Hot, sweaty dance floors with feet stomping and every body moving. Grooves for days. Monster horns and shredding psych-rock guitars. Oh, and giant killer robots. Let’s not forget about those. These are among the elements that make up the Five Alarm Funk experience. ”

Their unique sound is described as Gypsy-Rock / Afro-Funk / Latin / Ska & Punk. While we can list music genres all we want, it’s just one of those bands you need to see live for yourself and immerse yourself in their show. As drummer Tayo Branston says, “it’s intense, passionate, and fun, genre-spanning music that really anybody can get onboard with.” It was refreshing seeing people so into the music, eyes closed, swaying and dancing along, living fully in the moment.

We got the chance to ask the band a couple of questions. Here’s Five Alarm Funk’s Tayo Branston’s responses:

CT: You guys have been on a cross-Canada tour for over a month now – How do you prepare for being on the road for weeks at a time?

FAF: Being properly prepared as a band comes with years of experience. We bulk purchase food and snacks and load up the coolers. Our Timbale player Carl takes the reigns of tour chef, making sure we eat healthy and don’t succumb to the tempts of fast food. We get the bus checked by a good mechanic to make sure we are in the best possible spot to have the least issues. Really the rest is all personal, books, games, ideas to work on, all things to pass time and keep the travel portion of life fun. By the start of summer the show preparation is all taken care of. We rehearse long and hard through the winter so when show time comes, everyone is ready, prepared and know the songs like the back of their hand.

CT: Any funny stories from the tour so far that you’d like to share?

FAF: The tours are always filled with constant hilarity, wise cracks and good times. But it’s also, at this point in time, a very serious part of life. We are on a mission to bring funk to the people. Many many funny situations arise and in the moment are good for a chuckle, but recanting them and putting it into story form is not my forte.

CT: What has the response been like so far, do you have a favourite city to perform in?

FAF: We have had an incredible response!! The fans have been so supportive of us. We have sold more tickets, more merchandise and had the most successful tour to date. It’s really inspiring to see our goals as a band coming to fruition. A favorite city is never the case because we have developed really incredible relationships with so many cities. We love playing music for music lovers, wherever that is, is a wonderful place to be.

CT: You guys have an amazing stage presence – your show in Toronto at The Horseshoe blew me away. It was refreshing seeing people get completely into the zone, feeling the music. How do YOU get into the zone? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

FAF: I get in the zone by becoming one with the audience. I like to work the merch booth, have a beer, talk to and really enjoy the people who have gone out of their way to come to the show. About 30 mins before downbeat I start working my finger warm ups, get into my swim trunks and prepare my mind for all out musical mayhem.

CT: Your music is genre defying and has such a unique sound. You also have many members in the band. What’s the collaboration process like when it comes to writing and creating the music?

 FAF: Each member brings their own musical upbringing into the band. Whether it be funk, rock, jazz, latin , reggae, ska, punk, grunge, whatever it may be. Each member has their own personal loves. Not defining ourselves let’s all those personal musical influences shine through each player. We write music, usually in a small group of 2 or 3 just to get some main section groundwork layed. Then it’s into rehearsal, we stand in a circle and bring the song to the table. From there, everyone is free to input ideas, constructive criticism, likes, dislikes, anything goes until we start to see the song really come to life. We’ve played for 14 years as a band together so it’s like family. Everyone is involved and working towards the same goal. Aggressive FUNK expansion

CT: You are heading into the studio in the fall to record your 6th album…what can we expect on this next record, any teasers?

FAF: I believe this record will be the defining record for Five Alarm. The material we have written is very succinct, punchy, ultra funky and full of energy. It’s by far, the best material we have ever written. We head into the studio August 15th. The songs are all finished, road tested and ready to be set in stone. We’re working with our good friend and amazing engineer Ben Kaplan again. Listeners should expect a monstrous sound, a driving record, a dance party record, a record you can listen to solo and pick apart. I know it is going to be our best creation and I cannot wait for the day when it is produced, manufactured, and ready for release.

CT: Do you have any other projects lined up for the near future, music videos perhaps?

FAF: Absolutely!! We’ll be doing a single release with a music video for the album. We hope to do more than one so everyone should expect a massive amount of output and entertainment coming from FAF. We also plan on remixing choice songs from the record with vocalists from all over Canada and abroad. We’re planning an EP remix release of serious funk, vocal heavy and ready to take on radio. Aggressive FUNK expansion was my motto for this year. And 2017 will be no different. Look out for tons of great material, excitement and energy coming out of Five Alarm Funk.

CT: Anything else you’d like to share with your fans?

FAF: We’re running a pledge campaign!! It ties in everything from our vinyl release, our live album/DVD, and tons of rad exclusives only available through pledge. It’s all working towards our new album and it’s a great way for fans to get involved in the future of FAF. Check it out at



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