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Bootsy Collins Interview
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Maria "Funkyflyy" Granditsky: What musicians are on the new album?

Bootsy ('97)William/Bootsy Collins: Bernie Worrell is there, Joel Johnson, and Gary Shider did some guitar work. Tony Bird did some live drums. He's Bobby Byrd's son. Fred Wesley did the horns, Ron Jennings -who played lead guitar on the "What's Bootsy Doin'" record- he's back on this album. Mudbone Cooper did some vocals. Johnny Davis did some keyboard work, Wilbur Longmire, who's a Jazz guitarist, is on there. Carol (Godmoma Carolyn Miles) did some vocals, so did Kristen Gray, who've done vocals with me before on a couple of the other albums. Inaya Davis, we call her "Jiffy". She did a lot of the female vocal parts. Dmika, who is a female rapper from Cincinnati is on the record, she's the one doing the rap on the song "Fragile". Rodney O, he's a rapper out of San Francisco here in the States, Dru Down is on "Off The Hook". Let me see, who else is there? You have to bare with me now. I was born in the fifties and going through the sixties, it's hard for me to remember my own name (laughs). But you know, we actually did a track with Chuck D, called "Come Together". Everybody liked it, we had turned it in and everything and then his record company called and said we couldn't put it on the record because they were going through something with Chuck D. So we had to take that one off and that was a bummer because we had worked so hard on that song. Certain record companies are just.. It's really hard to get other artists to participate because of that. We were blessed, I guess, because we got a lot of artists to work with us and do things. I don't ever wanna be stuck in that situation. It's such a drag. A lot of artists lose it because they don't get the pleasure of working with other people. But I don't think I'll have a problem with that.

Besides the German producers Mousse T. and Boogieman who you mentioned before, you also worked with Norman Cook in the U.K. I know he used to be in Beats International and that he's worked with that British wacko band Freakpower.

He was a blast to work with. We went to Brighton, England to meet up with him and do some work. That whole period was great. I stayed in Europe for about three and a half months, working on the record and getting familiar with different people. Vibin', you know? It was really a good time for me. I've never done anything like that before; working with three different producers and in Europe too. That was really a first. I've worked in Europe before, I may come over, cut a song or a record and stay for for two or three days, but I've never been there for such a long period of time, cutting my own record and stuff. It was pretty deep. I learned a lot and met a lot of good people.

Did you record the majority of the album in Germany?

Actually it was cut in three different places. I recorded most of my stuff here and Mousse T. and Boogieman took the tapes from here to their studio in Germany. And then they just did what they do, mixed and hooked it all up. Then when I came over to Germany, I added maybe some vocals or something, but I did the the majority of my bass stuff, even a lot of the vocals, here in Cincinnati. I did that before I went to Europe, so I had an idea of what I was doing. That was good for me, because we started out wanting to do everything over there and by me not being used to doing stuff like that, I said "nah, let me just start it here, so that I can see what the heck I'm doing, then it will be much easier for me" and it was.

Let me ask you about the song "Pearl Drops", which you produced. Is it as nasty as I think it is?

Uhh, yeah (very mischievous laugh).

Bootsy(laughs) Uh-Oh. I'm changing the subjects here.

(laughs) Actually, I cut that last year. We used to do a live skit on one of the songs and I used to go off with a little bit of that rap. But then I thought I should go ahead and record this, so when we came off the road, I recorded it and then I just forgot about it. When I got the record deal with WEA, I started listening through tapes and that's when I decided to put "Pearl Drops" on there. So I finished it. I don't know, it sounded like a good record that that radio would probably pick up on too. It's nasty, but it's good. Have you heard "Good and Nasty" on the new album?

Uh-hum. That's even worse, isn't it? (laughs)

(laughs). You've heard the whole record, huh?

Yes, I have. I think it's great! One of my favorite tracks is "Party Lick-A-Ble's". The guitar is incredible on that one!

That's Norman Cook, he hooked that up really good for us. That's what I'm talking about. I mean, getting to work with different cats, that was really good for me. Like I said, I did most of the vocals and stuff here in my studio. I'm more creative here, as far as what I wanna talk about. One of the reasons for that is that I got a lot of stuff written down in my books that keep here. I just go back and go through them when I need ideas. During the course of the day, I write things down, things I don't do anything with. Then, when I get ready to start recording, I just look through my books and I see if I can find something that stands out. That's how I come up with the off-the-wall-kinda-strange-indirect-stuff. It's talking about the same things that's going on today, but in an indirect way. That's another different approach that I have, because today, everyone is so direct. I like to be more indirect, but you get the point.

Yes, I sure get the point of "Pearl Drops", even though it's everything but explicit (laughs).

(laughs) It's so interesting to me, what people are gonna say about this record because there's so much in it that you can talk about. You can talk good about it, you can talk bad about it. It doesn't matter, just talk about it! I like to hear people's reactions. I'm waiting for that, because it's so funny! I know what I was saying and what I was doing and I like to hear what the world's got to say now. That is so funny to me, just hearing stuff like what you just said. People are gonna have different reactions and by me doing an interview, it's like I am interviewing the world too. You don't get to do that all the time and now I got the chance to hear what the world thinks. It's great. Did that make any sense? (laughs)

Clyde Stubblefield: The Funky Drummer ('97)Sure, it did (laughs). By the way, I interviewed your old friend Clyde "Funky Drummer" Stubblefield the other day. He's got a wonderfully retro-funky album out here in Europe called "Revenge Of The Funky Drummer" and he mentioned that you had produced an album that would feature the world's funkiest drummers. Can you tell me more about that?

Yeah! Clyde was here about a month ago and we did an album on him and Jabo (Jabo's full name is John Starks. Like Clyde Stubblefield and Bootsy, he's a former member of James Brown's backing band, the JB's) and it will be coming out on P-Vine Records in Japan. Fred Wesley is on it too. I just turned it in! It's pretty much a drum thing with music, but the drummers are more featured than anything else.

Besides bass, I know you play drums too. Did you play on it?

Yeah, but you know.. You got Clyde and you got Jabo... Those are the cats I learned from, so it's like those are the real drummers. I was honored to have them here. These are two of the main cats in the world and I used to play with them, so it was a groove for me just engineering the session. Just watching these cats brought back a lot of memories of playing with then on stage. They were really my idols. These are the baddest cats in the world.

What's funny is that Clyde said he'd done a drum clinic recently with Jabo and James "Diamond" Williams from the Ohio Players. Clyde had explained to Jabo, how he had been Clyde's idol, how he looked up to Jabo and Diamond was saying the same thing to Clyde. They had a little private admiration club there that day.

That's so deep. It's so good to feel that from musicians. I think that singers, real so called singers, they don't get the full dose a musician gets, because singers have to be a certain way. But musicians are musicians, regardless of what's happening (laughs). They're like the street people. We just vibe. It's a good vibe, don't nothing get in the way. If you get tied up into having to be the star of something, then you get away from it and it's hard to get back to it. That's one of the things that I was really proud and glad of. I took time off to try to get back into it. Once you lose that musician part -not just the playing, I'm talking about musician attitude- then you're lost, man. Especially if you started out that way. It feels so good to be back, starting from the ground up. I don't know how I got off into that, but ahh..(laughs)

(laughs) What other instruments do you play?

Bootzilla. bubba!Well, bass and guitar, those are the things that I really write with. When I wrote "I'd Rather Be With You", I started the melody on guitar (hums) and that's how I came up with the song. On "We Want The Funk" (hums), I wrote that the other way around, with the bass line first. Bass and guitar are the main ones, but I play drums on a lot of the Parliament/Funkadelic stuff, and on my stuff, like "Stretchin' Out" and "Bootzilla". I wouldn't call myself a drummer or a guitarist, though. I've been around those elements, so I've seen what some people can do with them. It's just a feeling, it's a rhythm, and I know I got that. I don't have the technical side of it, but I got a feeling and I can put that feeling down for you.

Did you know that people over here are still talking about the first show you and the New Rubberband gave in Sweden, it was at a club called Gino in February 1995. It's the standard against which other concerts are compared. For real!

Whaat? Ohhh.. Yeah, I remember we had a blast in that one. Definitely! (laughs) Yeah, we'll be coming back, I haven't forgotten about you over there, we're just trying to get everything together. Because of this new record, we're gonna add a lot of the record to the show , so we gotta rehearse the band and you know, it takes time to put it all together to make it really good so that everyone will love it. But it's coming around real good.

When do you think the tour will start and who will be with you?

We'll probably start sometime in January-February. You'll see pretty much all the Rubberband that I had before but I'm gonna add a female singer, Inaya Davis, who's all over "Fresh Outta 'P' University" and the rapper Be-Wise, he's the one rapping on the title track. Those are the to that I know for sure that I have to add to do the stuff on the record. And Fred Wesley is supposed to be going out with us also. He'll be a great addition for the horn section.

When me and my friends went to the Rubberband concert, one thing that amazed us was how easy you were on the strings. Never having seen you live, we imagined that in order to make those "space-bass" sounds, you'd have to hit the strings and pull them hard! How do you create that sound? I've read that you use some gadget called a Mu-Tron?

Yeah, the Mu-tron is one of the things I use. Were you able to see the floor, my space-case? That's like a lot of gadgets and stuff that I rigged up. It's full of of old analog stuff and in my rack I got some new digi-tech type stuff and I intertwine the old school with the new school. It's like talking, you know? Certain pedals I use to talk with. It's always been a thing with me, not just playing. I've never been a straight ahead player type guy. It's like talking to you. Sometimes you need to be hit upside the head and then sometimes you need to be stroked a little bit. I'm into all of it.

Bootsy ('97)Another thing that made us gasp was when you got down from the stage and walked among the audience, shaking hands, during the "Touch" song. We did not believe our eyes. Isn't that dangerous? Hasn't anyone ever grabbed you and just wouldn't let go?

Oh yeah! (laughs). But in those instances, I just talk to the person and make them feel good and then they realize that "OK, he's real and I am squeezing him to death, so maybe I better loosen up a little bit." I remember one chick grabbed me and she was so strong, I could not get away. She had me around the waist and she had her head buried, you know? I was like "I don't wanna move the wrong way, because she might do something for real". I just rubbed her on the head and talked to her and she let me go. After she saw that I wasn't scared of her and that nobody was gonna come running over and grab her, she was cool. You don't usually know what you're gonna do, but 95% of the time, people just wanna touch me and that's what it's all about. When you give off that vibe, that's usually what you get, so it works! They probably don't hear much of what I'm saying, because the music's too loud, but it's the tone of voice and the body language, I guess. Everything is cool! (laughs). I can't explain why it works. I just do it and I don't care about what happens at the time.

Being a performer of course means having fans and I can safely say that you have among the most loyal fans in the world. I'm sure it must be an incredible feeling, to have people acknowledge you for what you do, know every detail of your history and so on. But with that comes fans that are fanatical. If I was a public person like you are, I would think it was weird and strange when people came up to me and said they loved me, when realistically, he or she couldn't possibly feel that way, because they don't know me. At least not like my friends and family does. I am talking about the kind of fans that probably don't even think you have red blood or need to use the bathroom. How do you deal with that? Is it scary?

Well, I can understand them. I've felt that way about somebody to, so I know how that feeling. It's just like knowing what it's like not to have anything to eat. I've been there, I've touched all of those things, so it's nothing that scares me. It's something that can happen again, any day. I guess you could say that they (the fanatic fans) are kinda weird, yeah. But at the same time, they are relating to something and whether I know what they're relating to or not, who am I to say that they are strange? I've been just as strange myself (laughs).

Am I asking weird or strange things?

Bootsy Collins ('94)No, no. Who you? No. It's just something to think about, that's all. It gets deep, really deep. There's something there that some people are relating to. I don't know what it is, but my whole thing is not to get in the way of it. I try to let everything flow the way it's flowing. You can't hide, the President can't hide, so how can I hide? When I do the jump-off-the-stage-thang, I'm out there anyway, so if anybody wants to get me, then they might as well go ahead and get me. Ain't nothing I can do about it (laughs). I can run off the stage and hide in the dressing-room and run out the back. But I've done all of that before. Anybody can do anything at any given point, that's what I'm saying. But these days, I really get off on being real to people (laughs). That's the fun part for me. I'm like "I'm not gonna bust your bubble. If you're thinking this and that about me, that's beautiful and I won't stop you". But if you happen to bust me, then I have to start being real with you. I like to try to make you feel good about yourself too. To me, it's good. I mean, everybody still thinks I get as high as I used to, that I'm still doing all of those crazy things I used to do. I guess because I still have that same look. That's fun to me. People think what they wanna think and I don't wanna get in the way of that. Do you understand that?

Yes I do. But how many do you think would have the guts to straightly ask "are you still using drugs, Bootsy"? Nah, I think most people assume you do, because it's not natural to be as wacky as you are, unless you're on drugs (laughs).

Right. And even if someone would ask and I'd tell them "no", they'd say "yeah, right" (laughs). I just go with it. Whatever happens, I just go with it. But if they get real about something, then I'll come off the stupid thang and try to help. I have to let it flow or else I'll get worn out. I wanna represent the people. I want people to realize that regardless of who you are, what you've been, you still have a contact. You still have somebody to talk to, somebody you can touch. That's what I wanna represent. To me, that seems like a spot that's null and void now, nobody wanna be touched no more (laughs). That's my motivation for doing what I do. Does that make any sense?

(laughs) Yes!

Glad to hear that I said something that made sense to you. (laughs)

(laughs) Bootsy, you've said more than one thing today that made a lot of sense! I can't even begin to tell you how great it's been talking with you. Thank you so much, it's been wonderful. I hope to meet you one day and shake your hand.

Ohh, you're definitely gonna get a chance to meet me, with all that rap you got (laughs). It was nice talking with you too.



Maria Granditsky December 1997.
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