5 Questions with Rags #6 - Tayo Branston (Five Alarm Funk)

Five Alarm Funk is one of the greatest bands in the world. There's really no doubt it, at least for those who have seen them live. Doug Benson may have (sub)titled his last comedy record "Forced Fun," but there's no doubt in my mind that the term was invented for these cats. In the middle of their fury is lead-guy and Animal's brother, Tayo Branston. Guy is a fucking machine, seriously. I get tired just watching him at their shows. He also talks and sends emails with the same enthusiasm. I've had the pleasure of talking to him a few times and this time was no less pleasurable.

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                                                                                     Separated at birth?

                                                                                     Separated at birth?

1. The first record you remember going out to buy with your own money – what was it? How old were you?

<laughs> It was probably…I think it was 2 Legit 2 Quit by MC Hammer. I must have been 6 or 7 or something like that. That’s the first thing that pops into my mind.

And when is the last time you listened to MC Hammer?

You know what? It wasn’t that long ago. <laughs> We pumped, uhhh, that song…”Can’t Touch This,” we pumped that coming home from Seattle like a year and a half ago and it was just awful! Like, what the hell is this? It’s just so funny, almost comical in a way.

It’s amazing to think how many millions of homes that record was in.

It is amazing, right? But I mean, kudos to Hammer. He’s got the pants and that dance. Man, it’s sweet.

Those pants are timeless. That song might age poorly but those pants are timeless.

Yeah, I know. And for the life of me I can’t find a sweet pair of Hammer Pants anywhere.

2. If a crazy person was going to take away either your sight or your hearing, which would you want to keep?

Well, in following my art I’d have to give up sight even though I think it would make my general life more difficult, I could still participate in the thing that makes me the happiest in life. But Beethoven was deaf, so maybe I could jump on to his whole feeling vibrations thing and just get right into it. Sitting on a subwoofer.<laughs> But yeah, definitely I would give up sight. I’d have to give up my sight and I could still smash on the drums with my friends. I just couldn’t drive the bus any more.

That doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.

I love driving the bus. I find when we’re on the road it’s just such a calming experience. I get a sort of oneness with the road and the actual travel instead of sitting there, going in and out of naps. I get this real momentum and motivation from the travel.

Tayo with his Five Alarm Funk cohorts, trying to take away his own hearing. Photo by Gabriela Gonzalez-Milroy.

Tayo with his Five Alarm Funk cohorts, trying to take away his own hearing. Photo by Gabriela Gonzalez-Milroy.

3. Can you think of a movie that had an impact on shaping your life philosophy?

I’m not a huge film guy as far as paying attention and digging deep into films. But a movie that I thought was always pretty great and made me feel good and inspired, even though it’s kinda sad and ends not very well, is American Beauty. It’s such a beautiful storyline and it kind of outlines that there’s so much more to live for than the banality and boringness of just going about your day to day business. Watching that movie was really inspiring to go, “THAT is not what I want.”

4. If you did have to Abandon Earth, the world is ending, but you get to keep one piece of culture, what do you grab? You can take anything in the world, but only one thing…?

I gotta grab a drum set.

Is there a particular drum set?

Nope. Not any particular one. I mean, mine would be great, I love my drum set. But it doesn’t matter. It could be a very interesting thing because if you ever came across another species or form of intelligent life…You have to go back to the start of humanity, of humans. The start of music was definitely percussion, just knocking things together. I think as far as communication goes, being able to convey some sort of positivity to another life form and do it well could be an advantage in interstellar travel.

5. Immortality…you have any thoughts about it? You think you’d like it or hate it?

Can I feel pain?

Yeah, you can feel pain. We’ll do this Highlander style. You’re alive as long as you don’t lose your head.

<laughs> Sweet. I don’t really know. I don’t think I’d like to be immortal because I think I might be missing out on whatever the next journey in life is. I’m not an atheist by any means but I definitely don’t conform to any religion but I think there’s some kind of consciousness that continues on and you don’t just end. Something has to happen. So I think that I would be missing out on that next experience. To stay on this Earth and be immortal, I think I’d be stuck.

6. (From Daniel Rotman) Do you believe that we can ever evolve to a Star Trek kind of utopia where humanity has galvanized together as one, and we can explore space and such together?

This may sound super cynical, but Not. In. This. Lifetime. I think there needs to be a mass extinction of humanity. There’s just been too much hurt and too many awful things that have happened to people over and over again. I think it’s just too much for people to get over. If we wanted a utopian society we’d have to start all over again with a common goal that everybody can abide by. There’s just thousands of years of turmoil and hurt for there to be mass world peace in this lifetime. I’d love to see that but I think we’d need to hit the reboot and start from square one.

Check Five Alarm Funk on November 21 at the Imperial in Vancouver. Tayo says, “It’s going to be a shredder!” TICKETS HERE!!!

Keep an eye out for FAF dates around BC and Vancouver Island in early 2015 on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

Buy Abandon Earth via bandcamp.