Funk Rock legend Bootsy Collins returns with his first new studio album in 6 years.
World Wide Funk was recorded at Bootsy Collins’ Bootzilla Re-hab studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. For this record, the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famer rounded up a whole raft of his friends from across a wide spectrum of musical genres. Almost every track on the record features one or more guests from this uber-talented ensemble, who each add their own distinctive touch to World Wide Funk.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Bootsy Collins to talk about his new album, his fondest memories of performing with Parliament-Funkadelic and his unquestionable creativity.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review today we really, really appreciate it – it’s such an honour to chat with you.
Bootsy: Thank you.
NRR: So you are about to release your first new studio album in six years on the 27th October via Mascot Label Group. I just wondered what would you say was your musical mission when you set about recording World Wide Funk?
Bootsy: Actually, the thought was to surround myself I guess with a lot of different people that I hadn’t really been around, like the younger set of musicians and some of the leaders in the hip-hop era when it first kind of started up. So I wanted to kind of develop that before I even really got … into the album and it just kind of started.
I mean I started talking with young musicians and kind of felt like this could probably work you know. So the more I got into it, the more I started collaborating with different people and the next thing you know the tracks started adding up and it was like wow, we are well on the way.
Actually, we came up with about probably about 30-40 tracks, before my wife said ‘you might want to think about you know, to start recording and start to put some of these songs together’. Because I completely forgot about ….we’re recording a record (laughing).
Well once I got started it was like – it just felt good and you just want to continue. I kind of lost track that I was actually recording a record and all I needed was 8 to 10 songs you know and it was like wow, so how am I going to pick? So that was the good part, you know I had to stop and pick out of all of the tracks that I had, which ones felt good enough to go on this record and that was the process.
NRR: Obviously, you just mentioned there World Wide Funk incorporates a whole raft of musical guests. You’ve got people like Chuck D on there, you’ve got Buckethead, Doug E Fresh, you’ve got Eric Gales and Dennis Chambers. People from all different musical backgrounds and musical genres, and that’s just to name but a few of the collaborations on the record. Did you have each of those artists in mind when you came up with those tracks or did the collaborations come together organically?
Bootsy: Really organically, I mean you know, it wasn’t like I said well I’m going to think of a song that Buckethead and I can do and it wasn’t really like that, the songs kind of came together, the musicians kind of came together.
Like maybe after I laid a track down I might have thought of ok maybe …say like Daddy Kane would fit a certain song I’ve done you know and it’s like let me see what he thinks about it and then get his opinion on it. It was kind of a back and forth kind of a thing with some of the artists because I wanted to do what they felt comfortable doing. We kind of worked it like that and it was really good because I got a chance to get real feedback on what they really felt and how they could fit into what we were trying to do.
NRR: Like we just mentioned, having such a broad range of musical guests on the album how did it work in terms of the recording of the record. Did you come together in the studio or did you work the songs through remotely via the wonders of modern technology – how did it work in terms of the recording process?
Bootsy: Well actually we got a chance to do both. I would say 75% was done in the Bouquet – which is my studio, and then the other 25% we had to send out because people were on the road, a lot of people were travelling and on the road during the summer months. So it was a heck of a thing trying to get the scheduling right, we had to work around a lot of people’s schedules.
It was great that the modern technology allowed you to send tracks and then listen and then wherever they were at, they could be over in Europe or wherever they are travelling at, or go to a studio or depending on if it’s a vocal or if it’s a rap, they could just do it right there on their computer (laughing). So both things really helped a lot on this record, and I used both you know analogue and digital, you know both worlds.
NRR: There was one track in particular which I wanted to talk to you about which is “A Salute To Bernie”, which is obviously a posthumous showcase for keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who was your former Funkadelic bandmate. That must be quite an emotional song for you.
Bootsy: Yeah, that one was tough. Actually, … we got a lot of songs we kind of had recorded and just you know we had done nothing with. I kind of had to go back through a lot of the stuff we did and you know kind of listen and try to see if Bernie is speaking to me on any of the stuff.
This particular one I chose for the album, it just felt like he was just there, his presence was there and he was speaking directly to me about this is the one. So I picked that one and worked on that one and he had done all of the keyboard work already, but I just didn’t have a concept or anything for the song or any lyrics.
So I just kind of took a day and let it all come to me and it did and Bernie and I had that conversation and it came off on the record (laughing), so I was like what?
You know but it made me feel good because I know that I had to do something – I was with him in his last days and you know you can’t explain that kind of relationship, it was deep and it still is. I just want to make sure that we had a record of our communication through music and friendship and I just wanted to have that on record you know, and I’m really pleased with it.
NRR: It’s a beautiful song. Having had a successful music career, you must feel very fulfilled with your achievements. I was just wondering what keeps you motivated and fuels your creativity to make new music?
Bootsy: It’s really difficult nowadays because you’ve got everything pulling at you as far as business you know. Music is like the bliss, music is where you enjoy and you feel the freest and you can create, but business always bogs that down. You try to run from business but you always have to come back to it (laughing), it’s just a struggle with that part of it and to keep it balanced that’s the hardest thing to do for me.
Today’s musicians seem like they are more in tune to business. When I was coming up, our whole thing was about music, playing and having fun, you know people having fun with it, but today it’s all about business. I don’t think I’m gonna ever be able to turn that corner, first of all, I don’t really like dealing with business (laughing) …
You know James Brown explained it to me this way, he told me at a young age, I don’t know why he told me this, he said ‘son, music is 25% of it’ he said ‘75% of it is business’. I did not agree with that at all, I mean I was like why is he telling me this? I was so full of music then, I was like what has that got to do with anything.
Then as I went on and went on and went through all of these different phases, and then I started thinking about what he said and what it meant, it’s like man I would have had no idea business had that much to do with it. The thing that keeps me going – I feel like it’s the young musicians and the people that I surround myself with now because they are eager, they are hungry and I can see the bling in their eyes that I had you know and it makes me always want it. So yeah, that’s the fire that keeps me burning.
NRR: Carrying on from that point – you are all about the next generation of musicians, you’ve got the Bootsy Collins Foundation which is providing musical instruments to disadvantaged kids, and on the other hand, you’ve got the Funk University which is continuing to teach aspiring artists. I was just wondering what advice would you give to any young kids thinking about starting out a career in music?
Bootsy: Well I think probably the hardest part for young musicians is rejection. That’s a hump that we used to jump over with ease because when you told us it wasn’t happening or we couldn’t get in or the door was locked, that just made us try that much harder. But today’s youth seems like the rejection thing it’s like a firewall, it’s like they can’t get beyond that and they get highly upset. We didn’t let any of that stuff bother us, it made us stronger.
When James Brown told us that we weren’t on it, we didn’t sound good – at first we didn’t understand, but later on it was like ok, I see why he kept telling us that because he wanted us to practice and get better. That’s actually what I did was practice harder, I got the band together and we practised more and instead of taking it on the negative side I took it as a positive when he was telling us that stuff. I didn’t like it, I didn’t understand it because you know it’s like this is the Godfather of Soul, why is telling us this? But I understood, later on, it’s like ok I get it now.
So if they can get past that part of it I think it would be a lot easier to stay creative…It’s really a lot of room they’ve got to work with, they’ve got much more information to work with than we did, they have many more tools to learn, so there’s no excuse for anybody today to not know their craft and be the best at it, there’s no excuse.
NRR: Obviously the title of the record is World Wide Funk. So we are talking about a global funk party here. I just wondered what are your touring plans for this record and is there any chance of you performing out in the UK this time around?
Bootsy: Well actually what we are doing right now is kind of like a radio CD release party, Bootsy house party type thing right now, which is we are kind of doing a tour where it’s kind of featuring the album, and then it’s kind of like a meet and greet/autograph signing. So it’s not really like a live performance thing yet, we are building into that into the year 2018.
So we are trying to get the platform going first because it’s always been a thing where the fans …you know the hardcore fans really want to see me do what I’ve done and the record don’t really get a chance. So I want to try this new approach that we came up with and how we can work it because for me it’s about new music, it’s about where I’m at now and at least give it a chance, and if I don’t give it a chance it won’t have one.
NRR: Obviously, your creativity is unquestionable. I just wondered to what extent do you feel that you have to keep on pushing your own creative boundaries?
Bootsy: Well I think that that’s what life is about, you have to continue to push. I mean if you don’t push it, it’s not gonna come out (laughing). It’s like when you go poop man, if you don’t push the poop it ain’t coming out (laughing). Unless you’ve got diarrhoea and who wants diarrhoea man, I mean you want it to come out naturally. So you’ve got to push it, man. That makes a little sense huh? (laughing).
NRR: It does. Obviously, you’ve worked with a who’s who of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. During your time with George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, I just wondered what are your fondest memories from those crazy days in the 70s?
Bootsy: Oh man, there was so many …oh man, let’s see to pick one, oh wow. Ok, here’s one. You know George was one who would never show up late, he was always on time with the shows. He even showed up – it was just him, myself and my brother and we were doing a Funkadelic gig outside, it was like a festival – a college festival. We were the only ones that showed up. So he was always you know, he would show up and play the gig no matter what.
So this one show we were doing, it was at Howard University and it was show time and everybody wanted to know where George was at and nobody could find him. It was strange because George was always ready to go on stage, I mean he was always the first one ready.
So I said maybe he’s in the bathroom. So I went and checked, I just followed my intuition and I went to check. Sure enough, I looked under the stall and I saw these chicken feet, and nobody wears chicken feet but George (laughing). So I said George, come on man it’s time to hit the stage, and he didn’t say nothing. So he was on his knees and then I saw the girls legs and feet, and I was like okay …Then I put two and two together and he was in there eating mouth, and we were supposed to on stage (laughing).
I thought that was pretty deep you know (laughing). So after I dragged him out of there, I told him he’s got to clean up his mouth man – we’ve got to hit the stage you know. Then he snapped back into it because I think he had lost it for a minute. That was the first time I had ever seen him do that and be late for the stage. So that was a pretty deep story for me.
NRR: That’s a good one to end it on. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, I really appreciate it. It’s a real honour to chat with you. Good luck with the album release and hopefully we will see you on this side of the pond very soon.
Bootsy: Definitely, thank you very much.
World Wide Funk by Bootsy Collins will be released on Friday 27th October via Mascot Label Group.
Website | Facebook | Twitter