Glimpses of the South Florida Scene: Shit Ton of Funk
of the South Florida Sceneis a weekly column devoted to the
artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring
interviews with the folks making it happen. This week, West Palm Beach's Shit Ton of Funk.
Shit Ton of Funk -- with a name like that, little is left to
the imagination regarding their steez. We can try to avoid obvious puns and
jokes, but their name holds true. One wonders where, exactly, that kind of funk
is coming from: always pulsating with dub-reggae tones, there's a little bit of
the late, great Jaco Pastorius, a little bit of Sublime, a little bit of
Infectious Grooves (Suicidal Tendencies' Mike Muir's funk-slash-metal project).
A few of the members have another
project, Greater Numbers, and though they're decisively hip-hop, their tracks
pack the same vibe as their equally soulful counterpart. It's clear they feed
off each other, sharing and inspiring similar grooves. Guitarist/vocalist Casey Hopkins, keyboardist/bassist/vocalist Tom Wierzbicki, and keyboardist/bassist/vocalist Marco Topic answered some questions
collectively about their magical origins, the Killer Wheezy, and joining the
New Times: Who
is Shit Ton of Funk -- when did you start playing as this particular
incarnation? Were any of you in
other bands before?
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Casey Hopkins: It
all started on the backroads of Kanuga, in an ex-airplane hangar, whilst Sir
Tomulus Wierzbicki*, Wang Tchung, and Nugnonymous Skunk were brought together
on a request by Tim Bones. He wanted to start a band to sing with at local
bars, but the jams were a little too groovalicious to grasp. The three decided
to add a guitar to see if it would bring Tim out of his shell, but it just
didn't seem to click. However with the addition of starchild Spacey Chopkins,
things started to solidify. From the smoke emerged a name: Shit Ton of Funk --
not only to signify the bodaciously bumpin' rump-thumpin' sounds but also the
vision -- a feeling of having in one's possession a true shit ton of FUNK! Once
the word hit the streets, it didn't take long for Sir Daddy Dollars Cope to
catch wind of something brewing amongst the BROBRAH collective. He brought
along his magical tools of sleaze 'n' cheese, combined with the Epiphanifical
Piffalifical Piff, and thus the bond was sealed, layers peeled.
Our first show
happened some time in August 2009, and the skullfunkification of the brobrah
So far as members involved with other bands, both Wang
Tchung and Tomulus Wierzbicki are members of the gnarlifical beast-group known
Tchung is also known as the mythical Scrasquatch, the scratch-funk phenom from
Greater Numbers. And to top it off, he cut his teeth with the band Stunna. Tomulus
Wierzbicki got started originally with the Kim Basinger Band and currently
books some sweet gigs as a jazz pianist. Nugnonymous
Skunk is the Greater Numbers' Nasty Nugg Supreme, and he plays keys with Roots
Shakedown, a local reggae band.
You're maintaining a funk and hip-hop vibe in a scene
that's mostly noise and indie rock, and you're extremely well-received. Do you feel like you stand out in the
WHO CAN DENY SOME SWEET HONEY BUTTER FUNK? Of course we
feel like we stand out, but then again, if you're doing anything out of the
"norm" in the 56ace, people tend to notice in good and bad ways. But we feel
that there are not many other bands around that venture into the territories
that we do. And if there are, where you at, let's make it happen!
Tell me about the connection between Shit Ton of Funk and
Greater Numbers. Who's in each
band, and how do the two support each other?
Greater Numbers is the umbrella for everything. We go by
the name for our hip-hop sets, but it also applies to the collective, a network
of artists in the area working with and amongst each other. No matter what
you're doing, if you add one foreign element to your creative process, the end
result can be affected drastically. Apply this to the concept of different
artists creating new works with each other, and all of a sudden it's an
(r)evolution! Shit Ton of Funk is but one of many musical couplings going down
around town. This world, this state of consciousness, is an ever-turning and
calculating equation. Every single person on this planet plays a role in the
final product, the present time. Now, some people are but tiny numbers thrown
into the equation, but nevertheless, they affect the final product. However,
there are also the larger numbers, the greater numbers, which can severely alter the final product. The choice is
yours: One small number by
yourself, or a larger number as a collective.
You've got a live album up for download, and Greater Numbers
has an EP. Can we expect a legit
EP from you guys coming up?
"Forces are in motion, forces none of us can control."
What do you listen to -- recently and always -- that
inspires the music you make yourself? Are there any other funk/psych/dub bands or greats that you love in
particular? Your music made me
think, instantly, of Infectious Grooves.
A collective list of main influences: the Meters, James
Brown, the Pharcyde, a Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang, Prince, Lettuce, Santana,
Danny Tenaglia, Goodie Mob, Outkast, Medeski Martin and Wood, John Scofield,
STS9, Soulive, Marley (of course), NOFX, Rancid, all classical music -- the list
can go on and on.
Tell me the story behind "The Killer Wheezy."
Well, Tom has this big ol' chubbster pug. He's a black pug
who gets easily out of breath... when he gets excited or exerts himself, he snorts
and wheezes so bad you'd swear, the killer wheezy must be a-comin.
What are the best and worst things about being a local
South Florida band -- is it difficult? Inspiring?
The best has been playing with and seeing
bands like the Dewars, Weird Wives, Sumsun, Natty State, and more. It's good to
know you're not alone. The worst
is the fact that Florida is (geographically) a dead-end. It can steer people
away from traveling through. The all-together vibe of this area can be
disheartening at times, seeing as we rarely see anyone dancing! Don't get me
wrong -- people get down from time to time -- but it takes the perfect
combination of time, place, and people to see that happen. But that's simply
how it is. The ace is not a place where people go to party, get wild, and
discover new things; it's more people who are already in their groove, have
been here most of their lives, and the vibe seems to mirror the region: simply
chillin'. However, just being in South Florida is good enough. There are not
many places you can find in this country that can even come close to measuring
up to what we have going on in the 561. It's almost a good thing that it goes
by so unnoticed, hidden in plain sight.
Any upcoming shows we can list?
September 18 at Propaganda -- it will not disappoint!
Shit Ton of Funk with the Dewars and Natural State. 9 p.m. Saturday, September 18, at Propaganda, 6 S.
J St., Lake Worth. $5 cover. Call 561-547-7273, or visit
Stay up-to-date with their happenings on their blog, and download
page for even bassier tunes.
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