When I was in the 5th grade Parliament Funkadelic was on fire. They had a tour once called the Aqua Boogie tour where there where at least 20 people on stage on roller skates, wearing fish costumes, playing some of the funkiest most intelligent music I’ve ever heard. Parliament, George Clinton, Bootsy, Bernie Worrel, Eddy Hazel, and the whole creative crew was “other worldly” to me, like super heroes. In many ways they were akin to KISS in that they were a movement and an ideology and a spectacle as much as a band. The thing that got me about Parliament was that the music made me dance and think simultaneously. It may have been the first time that I ever had that experience. I can remember listening to Aqua Boogie and the first verse really stuck out for me. “Never learned to swim….can’t catch the rhythm of the stroke, why should I hold my breath, feelin’ that I might choke. The things you blow through because of things you swim through, why cut your nose to spite your face? With the rhythm that makes you dance to what we have to live through, you can dance underwater an not get wet.” Somehow that last part, “with the rhythm it takes to dance to what we had to live through, you can dance underwater and not get wet”, I knew that line was a metaphor about the struggle of black americans, a reference to the grace with which black people in America have endured slavery, and the subsequent hatred that came with emancipation and risen above it. “With the rhythm it takes to dance to what we had to live through, we can dance underwater and not get wet”. P-funk was saying we are so powerful and gifted that we could “dance underwater and not get wet.” Now this one just came to me, were they saying that we could be submerged in uglinessand not have it affect us permanently? Not sure if I believe that, not sure if that’s what they meant either, but that line stuck with me until this day.
Fast forward to January 2013. The Torsos are in the studio at Ron St. Germaine’s house and we’re working on a song called the Wizard of Woo. It’s a tune dedicated to and written about legendary keyboardist, musician, writer, and founding member of Parliament Funkadelic, Bernie Worell. The song was written by our fearless leader David Fiuczynski. I got this idea in my head that it would be amazing if Bernie Worrell could play on the track and be a guest on the new Torsos record. Fuze played in Bernie’s band “Woo Warriors” years back and there was a great relationship. Long story short we made it happen and we were in the studio with one of my childhood heroes. For all these years I knew that Bernie was a master and innovator, but it is a unique feeling to be in the presence of someone who has created a sound that is truly their own. Bernie’s sound was inspirational to others musicians in the 70′s and 80′s and heavily imitated. Standing right next to him as he made the Moog and Arp synths talk in funky badass cartoon voices, as he layed down dirty, crunchy, funky rhythns on the Hohner D-6 Clavinet, just put me in a place of awe. It was one of the great musical experiences of my life. As Bernie was playing, I kept looking at Skoota Warner, our drummer and saying, “Jeesus it’s so P-funk”, and then I would stop myself…. “yeah of course it is, part of the DNA of Parliament is right here in our recording session, it doesn’t sound like P-Funk, it actually is P-funk!” Can’t wait for y’all to hear Wizard of Woo on the new record next year. Peace.
Checkout Bernie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za9YphfCZwM