Electrik Lemonade know how to seize opportunities and run with them. When Mella Lahina chatted to drummer Donovan Lee during BIGSOUND they weren’t even on the lineup but that didn’t stop them from capitalising on the fact that industry and media would be in town. And they literally launched their music career by playing multiple shows in a Mexican restaurant in Airlie Beach during a music festival. It’s that creative thinking that has hailed their arrival in North Queensland and cemented a loyal fan base in that area.
The seven-piece self-described cosmic collective boogie force come from all over: GC, Brisbane, NT and the Philippines and it’s that melting that gives them a unique, soulful yet funk-filled flavour.
Electrik Lemonade’s, recent single Electrik People is an ode to their loyal fans who love to dance at their shows. I asked Lee if they had any funny fan stories.
“There’s a guy who we call ‘well dressed stick man’ who follows us literally around the country to shows, he’s probably in his late 60s maybe early 70s, he’s got this stick with beer bottle caps. We met him in Airlie Beach when he came to all of our shows and then we were recording a film clip on the Gold Coast and he just rocked up, he flew down to be part of the video clip. Wherever we play he either flies or drives to our gigs and we get him up on stage and he dances around with this percussion stick.”
Lagerphones aside, Lee says the single artwork also has an interesting story behind it involving a fan dancing in a gorilla suit who became the band’s unofficial mascot.
It’s obvious the band thrives on their live audiences. “The whole idea of the live show is people dancing and enjoying themselves, it’s very little about us, it’s all about them, it’s what we get the most joy out of.” Performing songs live also plays a big part in the way the band record in the studio. Keyboard player Funky G usually comes up with the initial ideas and then the rest of the band collaborate on lyrics and arrangements and turn it into a seven piece hip hop funk track. I ask Lee if this songwriting style can cause arguments.
“I think the song kind of changes a lot as we perform it, we try not to record anything before we’ve played it live to a whole heap of audiences. It’s predominately about catching that live vibe in the studio.”
6 November will be a big day for the band. As well as releasing their new EP Funklore they also kick off their tour, first stop Airlie Beach Music Festival
Latest single Run and Hide, which is off the EP is about a man having to live with the consequences of killing someone, which, ironically almost killed MC Barney Trub who was the protagonist in the clip. Says Lee “we had just done three massive shows, he got the flu, lost his voice and had a chest infection, we contemplated taking him to the hospital but we had already organised the whole clip, hired all the gear, it was a pretty big thing. He drank about a litre of V and was vomiting on the side of the road but he just had to do it.”
“It ended up turning out really good but he was admitted to the hospital the next day,” Lee said. Perhaps being so ill gave Trub the edge needed for the serious subject matter as he puts in an incredibly authentic performance as a man tormented by a crime he has just committed.
Rock and roll by night, teacher by day. When he’s not touring and recording, Lee works at Coomera Tafe in Creative Industries and is impressed with the students coming through the music business and sound production courses he leads.
I asked him what his thoughts are on the Gold Coast music scene and he reckons it’s home to some amazing musicians.
“More venues are willing to give live music a go compared to five to ten years ago, which is a really good thing and Council festivals are giving bands opportunities to play to new fans as well as places like Currumbin Creek Tavern and the Soundlounge which we played recently, there are more opportunities for bands to play which is great.”
I want to know what opportunities Electrik Lemonade would like to build on, considering they have played alongside big names like Ash Grunwald, The Delta Riggs, Kingswood and Stonefield recently. They also started out at the same time as Sticky Fingers who are now doing pretty big things.
“Festivals is what we see ourselves doing, it’s all about the live show, our front guys are incredible – great showmanship – and love getting the audience involved. Festivals are our jam definitely. And maybe more instrumentalists,” he said.
“For our tour we might have a guy Brad Hosking who plays trombone and trumpet and another guy playing baritone sax, just making the horn section larger.”
Eleven funk lords up on stage creating a massive sound is sure to get the people dancing. And when you throw in gorilla lady and lagerphone man and I reckon you just found your new favourite festival funksters.
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The Funklore EP tour takes in our neck of the woods: 13 November at Miami Marketta, 14 November at Spring Hill Festival, 21 November at Motor Room (Brisbane) and 13 December at Miami Shark Bar for the tour finale.