Even though Arthur Funkarelli has seen four bass players and two drummers, the heart of why the band formed over a decade ago has stood the test of time to create real music for real people.
“Our first jam was the yellow house on Vernon Street,” said Fraser Black, one of the bands lead vocalists and guitar players.
“Teresa’s veteranary clinic was down below and I had an apartment rented up there,” said Al LeClerc, the bands other lead vocalist and guitar player.
LeClerc said Black would come over on Friday nights and they would have their gear and instruments set up.
They were passionate musicians who were attending the music school at Selkirk College.
“We would play for all hours,” said LeClerc. “We would have people coming out of the bar next door having little block parties.”
Eventually the bar invited Black and LeClerc to come play inside.
“We still always play at Finley’s,” said Black.
“We always said the band was always a fun thing,” said LeClerc. “And here we are 14 years later still best friends and still making music. That first gig was the little kick in the pants where we all went ‘We have a gig all of a sudden. Maybe we should make this a band.’”
Since that night at Finley’s Arthur Funkarelli has travelled all over British Columbia, into Alberta and Saskatchewan and even down the West Coast of the US.
“It’s really fun jumping in the van and hitting the road. A lot of the times it really sucks and can be really challenging but those are the best memories,” said LeClerc. “We always talk about those tough shows and going that distance from like Edmonton to Winnipeg.”
As time has changed the sound and faces of the band, time has also changed the lives of the members of the band.
Both Black and LeClerc have families making it harder to hop in the van and head on tour.
“Our touring has been tapering off and we’ve done a lot of dangerous miles out there on those highways,” said LeClerc. “A lot of those trips were made on heavy, heavy hang overs after four days of givin’ er shit. We count ourselves really lucky to have been able to do all those shows.”
“It definitely became hard to justify it when you have little babies at home,” said Black. “Every time the wheels come out of the ruts and you go flying towards the ditch with the front end and the back heading towards a ridge, it makes it a lot harder.”
Black shares the stage with his brother Alan Black, who plays drums. Ryan Jones is the band’s bass player and Mike Eby has been on saxaphone since the early days of Arthur Funkarelli.
“The band has always been about friendship,” said Black. “Regardless of what happens we always stay together because we like playing music together.”
Arthur Funkarelli aspired to be “kings of the underground.” They offer a unique blend of NoMeansNo with the wailing sax of Curtis Mayfield.
The band has released three albums and is planning on recording a new album.
“I think we’ve become better song writers,” said Black about the progression of the band’s music. “Our influences were all in place by the time we started playing in this band. I think we may have gone a little heavier and a little less funky but it may not always be that way.”
“I think our fans early on made a connection to the improve and jam style of our band,” said LeClerc. “We’ve been through a lot of regenerations and that old crew will always point back to those days and say you guys were so much more funky. It wasn’t necessarily that we consciously wanted to be less or more funky it was just that’s how we wrote back then.”
Arthur Funkarelli is taking the stage at The Royal tonight.
“We are tighter,” said LeClerc. “We know how to record and our songs are more focused but we can still throw down a jam.”