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Bootsy Collins Interview
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Maria "Funkyflyy" Granditsky: Your new album "Fresh Outta 'P' University" came out on WEA Germany. How did you get signed to that label?

William/Bootsy Collins: Well, they came to the show, as a matter of fact it was probably around the same time we went to Sweden. It was around the end of '95 or the beginning of '96. Markus Bruns, who was the head of A&R at WEA, came to one of the shows we did in Germany and he said we just blew him away. We talked after the show and he said that he would really like to do a record and asked me what I thought about that. I told him I was signed with RykoDisc and couldn't do it right then, but maybe on down the line. We kept in touch. He wanted me to send him some tapes and he liked the stuff I sent him. One thing just led to another. They had an artist there, Randy Crawford, who I grew up with here in Cincinnati, that was signed to WEA also. Markus asked me to do some stuff with her..

Oh yeah! You, Bernie Worrell and Fred Wesley contributed to Randy's last album, 1995's "Naked and True", which I personally think is the best she's done in recent years!

Randy Crawford 'Naked and True' (album, '95)Right! So one thing just led to another and we just have a really good relationship. Then they brought me over and I met everybody, went through the whole company.. I don't know, it was just like love at first bite. Everything just hooked up from there. We kept talking and next thing I know, they came over here, to my studio, and we listened to stuff. Markus brought a couple of producers with him, Mousse T. and Boogieman, and we all just hit it off. Since Warner Brothers, back in the day, I hadn't never really had nobody that I think that was there, that I kinda felt was working like my right arm. Somebody I could really talk to or somebody I could depend on that would carry it out. Up until now, I really didn't have nobody, we were just doing everything ourselves. It feels good to now have somebody that can help you do things because I've always had visions and stuff that I wanted to do. You know, we had the vision of the cartoon thing way, way back in the day. But the record companies then thought it was a joke (laughs). You know, videos and stuff like that, before video was happening. They thought that was a joke and the in the eighties it really came in strong. Then it was like the joke was on us because we didn't get it done. A lot of that stuff goes on. If a company don't think there's any profit in it at that point, they won't fool with it. That's what happened to us back in the day. But by us doing a lot on the road, we were able to afford things like videos on the tours, cartoons that we'd open up the shows with. We were doing that way back when and now it's the hippest thing to do. We're just coming back around, I guess trying to play catch-up.

You have a cartoon on TV, right? Is it on now?

Yeah! We did a thing with MTV and we're looking at either MTV picking it back up or going with Fox. We're shopping it around a little bit right now. It's not running right now because we're trying to sort the deal out. But after this record, hopefully we can really get this cartoon thing going on, like I wanna get it going on. It's one thing to deal with the bits and pieces thing, but like I said, WEA allowed me to go ahead and do a whole full thing and that's what I wanna do with the cartoon. But I haven't had the opportunity to go full blast with the cartoon yet. I'm not rushing it or nothing, it's a step at a time. The cartoon is one of the main things I wanna do outside the road and cutting records. I wanna be involved with animation 'cause I still got a cartoon mind, baby (laughs).

(laughs) That was Bootsy!

Bootsy(laughs) Yeah, he sneaks in every now and then. Ahh, yeah. But like I said, WEA picked up on it and they know that all I need is a hit record. Once we got that, then it it will take us all the way over because everything else goes with it anyway. We've already got a good reputation for being on the road, being able to pack a house and do a good show and all of that. Getting a record is all we really need. Once we have that, it's over. So that's what I've been putting my energies into now and WEA know that also, so they've been really helping a lot, trying to push us over the edge on that one.

I take it that you're also a cineast, because of the interludes from old movies on both "Blasters.." and "Fresh Outta 'P'"?

Yeah. I thought having those interludes on there was a fresh thing do to on a record. I am a movie person. I like fiction, mysteries, science-fiction, all of it. And by me liking that stuff, I thought I'd intertwine some of it on my records. The stuff I like, I always try to share with people, letting them get a dose of it too. There's a lot of stuff that people miss, a lot of lines, that they might hear on that record. I thought I picked up some that I thought would fit. It's totally stupid, it's really dumb, but then when the music hits you, it takes you back to another place. It's designed to take you to different heights of stupidity (laughs).

(laughs) When is "Fresh Outta 'P' University"coming out in the States?

They're talking about in February, but we're trying to push them to do it a Christmas release because we want everybody to be buzzing at the same time. We're talking to them, but we'll see. Everything is still in their hands, but all you can do is push. But we feel the sooner the better. In Europe and Japan it's gonna be October, we were hoping that the States was gonna be October too. Since not, we're trying to push for December. No matter how it comes down, I'm gonna roll with it. There are always certain things that you would like, but I'd say 75% of what I wanted is happening so far.

"Fresh Outta 'P' University" is more Hip-Hop influenced than anything you've ever done before. The last time we spoke you said that your sons William & William were into Rap and that one William was a pretty good rapper too. Did they have anything to do with the Hip-Hop flavor on the new album?

sleeve of Fresh Outta 'P' UniversityWell, it's like back in the day, when met some old Jazz guitar players that would not change to electric guitars. They were like "I play acoustic guitar and I play Jazz and if I can't make no money playing Jazz on this acoustic, then I don't want it". I am at that point now. Whatever I do now it's like "OK, am I willing to change up a little bit or do I just wanna continue doing what I've been doing?". I can do what I've been doing by myself, I don't need nobody else for that (laughs). So it's my choice, it's whether I wanna move on and try to do something different, or continue to do what I've been doing. When I got with WEA, I kinda let them know that if we wanna do something new and exciting, that's great, but if I wanna do a Bootsy record the way I've been doing 'em, I can do that all by myself. So it was pretty much an understanding and they were a really big help to me. They helped me find producers and different people to get involved with in the making this record. It felt like a team effort and I didn't have to put everything together, 'cause like I said, if I had to do another Bootsy record like I have been doing them, I can do that all by myself very easily. I got the place and I got the money. But as far as getting it out, getting a really radioactive record, for that I needed somebody that was like WEA.

What I like is that "Fresh Outta 'P' University" is highly commercial, you have incorporated today's musical trends, yet you have not gone over the top. I am convinced that it will please both old Rubberfans (like myself) and new funkateers. It seems to me that it's easy for veteran artists or groups to lose themselves in trying to achieve this. I personally think it's a sad thing to hear my old heroes losing the very sound that made them special in their attempts to hit the contemporary R&B market.

I hate to hear that too. It's a very thin line. I just tried to stay in it as much as possible. We were trying to make sure we kept the old Funk stuff alive, along with the new stuff that's going on too. It's more of a combination of old-school/new-school. I figured "I'm doing all these record with rappers, why not incorporate some of that on my own record?". But I gotta tell you, it was hard making this record. It was really hard. It's that thin line and you just hope that you don't never pass it. It was probably the most difficult record I've ever done. But I'm really pleased with it. Even if it's not successful, I know that everything was real about it; the energy that went into it and what I learned and the people that were involved. I know it was all real. It felt good. If I don't get nothing out of it, other than what I've gotten already, I'll still be glad about it. It's nothing that makes me feel like I wanna go in the closet, you know, wishing I had never done it.

Have you ever done a record that you feel that way about? That you regret making?

Uhh.. Probably so. Let me think. It's been some work I've done, but I wouldn't say a whole album. There are a lot of records that I would have liked to go back and re-do stuff on, though. There are a lot of those. It's like as the time goes by, I think "wow, what I could have done with that". I'm always critical of that kind of stuff, but as far as an overall album.. Not really. Umm.. It's one that I probably would have done a lot differently and that's "This Boot Is Made For Fonk-N". But other than that, I think I would have done them the way I did them at that time. I'm always critical of what I do. I don't know, I guess I'm at both ends. I like it, I don't like it (laughs). But this record to me, it feels the best. I feel like I was more involved with this record than any other, except the very first record "Stretchin' Out". This record makes me feel like "Stretchin' Out".

Stretchin' Out (LP, 1976)To be honest with you, when I read sentences like "Bootsy is beginning a new face in his career", " I never had the feeling of being so strongly part of a production" and "it never felt this good" in the press bio.. Now that we're talking, I can hear in your voice that you really mean it, but when I just saw it in print, I thought "hmm, it looks like he's really keen on selling me this record". If he's comparing it to "Stretchin' Out", then "Fresh Outta 'P' University" better be good. You know how some artists say that "this is the best record I've ever done" and that's fine. But when they say it each and every single time they have something new out, then one gets a little suspicious if it's just a marketing ploy! (laughs)

(laughs) Yeah, I know what you're talking about! But I just really feel that way about the record. It's like "Stretchin' Out" to me. I didn't feel that way about "Stretchin' Out" when I was recording it, but later on, as I looked back on it, it was like "wow, I was really in there, I was really feeling that" and that's what I feel on this one. Like I said, it was a difficult album to make. So was "Stretchin'' Out". On "Stretchin' Out", the difficulty was that I was reaching for something and I didn't know what I was reaching for. "Fresh Outta 'P' University" is the same way; I was reaching for something but I didn't know what. So, they are familiar in those two aspects. Does that make any sense? Not really huh? (laughs)

(laughs) It probably does.

You're not understanding what I'm saying? Come on, you just said it didn't make sense! (laughs)

(laughs) No, no, no. I do understand. You want to achieve something, but you're not quite sure what it is. Then afterwards, as you look back on it in the rear view mirror, you realize that yes, you reached that goal or no, you missed. I understand, I swear.

(laughs) That's good, 'cause I don't wanna confuse you now. But that's how I relate these two projects. Like on "Stretchin' Out", I didn't know what was gonna happen then. I wasn't looking forward to becoming a star or anything. I was just doing the record, what I felt at the time. It just felt good. Somebody told me "you need a record" and that's why I did it.


Go to Part 3


Maria Granditsky December 1997.
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