Even in a city that doesn't play by the rules, New Orleans' Bonerama is
something different. They can evoke vintage funk, classic rock and free
improvisation in the same set; maybe even the same song. Bonerama has been
repeatedly recognized by Rolling Stone, hailed as "the ultimate in brass
balls" (2005) and praised for their "...crushing ensemble riffing,
human-feedback shrieks and wah-wah growls" (2007). Bonerama carries the
brass-band concept to places unknown; what other brass band could snag an
honor for "Best Rock Band" (Big Easy Awards 2007)? As cofounder Mark Mullins
puts it, "We thought we could expand what a New Orleans brass band could do.
Bands like Dirty Dozen started the "anything goes" concept, bringing in the
guitars and the drum kit and using the sousaphone like a bass guitar. We
thought we could push things a little further."
New Orleans' fertile club scene was directly responsible for Bonerama
getting together. Trombonists Mullins and Craig Klein were both members of
Harry Connick's band, where they¹d been since 1990. Both were looking to
supplement this gig with something a little less structured. "Harry sets the
bar pretty high, and you have to play it the same way every night for
everyone to follow."
Along with his jazz connections, Mullins is Bonerama's resident rock 'n'
roller: It was Mullins who instigated the offbeat classic-rock covers that
have become a band tradition. Edgar Winter¹s "Frankenstein" was the first
nugget to get the treatment and songs by Hendrix, Zeppelin, Black Sabbath
and the Allman Brothers Band have since appeared in their set right
alongside the funk and jazz-flavored numbers. "There's definitely something
about the guitar and the trombone that are related," Mullins figures. "You
compare the fretboard to the slide; there's a lot of similarity there."
Indeed, the sounds Mullins makes by playing through a guitar amp and wah-wah
pedal may explain why he's named Jimi Hendrix as one of his favorite
trombonists. "It's great to grab people with the rock songs, and then turn
them on to some New Orleans music at the same time," Klein says.
The new EP Hard Times contains four studio tracks including the title track,
"Hard Times", the instrumental number "Folly" and "Lost My House" which was
co-written by Craig Klein and Dave Malone from the Radiators. These three
new originals along with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks"
marks the band's first ever studio recordings. A bonus fifth track features
a live performance of "Turn on Your Love Light" captured live from the stage
at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
"'Lost My House' is a true story inspired by the the levee failures in 2005.
The verse was written by Dave Malone, who knows the story of the Rugalator.
In the song, it is symbolic of losing everything, but still having the
things you love and cherish. Some things can't be taken away," says Klein.
"The song 'Hard Times' is really about the antithesis of hard times and
flipping our fears over to optimism. To those that say all hell is breaking
loose, we say kick out the demons and embrace all the positives that are
always around us but often ignored in this world," says Mullins.