As long as there is funk, there is hope: Montreal group The Brooks is fighting containment apathy by launching, five months later than planned, Any Day Now, a third album dripping with brass, violins and soul that confirms the orchestra’s relevance in the very nested, but so welcoming, global funk scene.
Because if it hadn’t been for the virus, The Brooks’s path was already clear, at least for the current year, assures co-founder, bassist and producer Alexandre Lapointe: “The schedule was very busy [de concerts] outside the country. Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Morocco, Ivory Coast, we were going far and for a long time. However, the reverse is true … “
As the suitcases will indeed collect dust in the back of the closet for several months to come, you might as well offer something to the fans: Any Day Now is a wonderfully carefree record, recorded with pleasure and collegiality – The Brooks officially has eight members, but more than twenty other musicians collaborate on the most ambitious album of the discography of this group broken to the big stages outdoor festivals.
What was a hobby for Alexander and the other three founders of The Brooks, however, took less than ten years to transform into a funk freak. “As we like to say, there are some who are going to play hockey on a Tuesday night, we would go to the studio to“ jam ”and write songs, says Lapointe. Our goal was not necessarily to form a group as such. It was all just for the sake of playing music together – at the limit, we imagined offering our work for certain projects. We saw ourselves as an instrumental band, so we imagined that our music could be used in movies, in advertising, in video games, that kind of niche … “
It was partly thanks to the versatile keyboardist Daniel Thouin that The Brooks saw the light out of their rehearsal room. “On the music scene, almost everyone is a freelance writer, everyone knows each other; Dan had heard what we were doing, he volunteered to play with us on a few songs “before officially joining the band. “We ended up leaving our studio when Dan received a call from Gary Tremblay, owner of Dièse Onze, the jazz club on rue Saint-Denis; he was looking to offer something other than jazz, evenings on Wednesdays ”. It lasted nearly three months, The Brooks heating the boards with their funk heater, inviting various singers on stage. Kim Richardson has been there, the same goes for Marie-Christine Depestre, Antoine Gratton (he signs the opulent string orchestrations of the new album) and a certain Alan Prater.
He’s the voice of The Brooks. Native of Jacksonville, Fla., Gospel-boozy, experienced stage musician – right from the start, he was backing vocal for Michael Jackson during the tour Thriller ! -, also a trombonist, Prater allows The Brooks to be a little more than the sum of its parts: it gives a breath, a meaning to the group’s repertoire, also allows it to free itself from the simple image of the good jam band festive thanks to its authentic hoarse voice.
Sure Any Day Now, The Brooks wears his influences on his jacket like medals – Funkadelic on ZENDER (The MTL), the orchestral Isaac Hayes on the sweet Moonbeam, Curtis Mayfield on the amazing The Crown, inspired by the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral – but nevertheless finds its own identity, believes Alexandre: “Look at the groups [funk] who have exploded on the scene in recent years, the Vulfpecks, Louis Cole [du duo Knower], great groove groups, virtuosos, but they don’t work that much with singers. We have Alan: it is thanks to him that we can evolve, that we come up with different ideas while sticking to our aesthetic. “
This is the spark ofAny Day Now : the voice, the rhythm, imagined in a setting of sumptuous strings, “like all those great singers at the time, Hayes, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, who offered soul-pop songs with a full orchestra,” says Alexandre. On the previous albums, we also had a strings section, but this time we wanted to take the idea further “and underline this musical aspect by starting and ending the album with two instrumental compositions, Nebula and North Star.
On disc, the result is convincing. It will remain at The Brooks to solve this puzzle for the shows … when they can resume. Right now, the guys are wondering how they will go about launching Any Day Now : “When you’re in a group with a smaller number of members, it must be easier,” Lapointe says. But a group like The Brooks, with eight members, including brass and a singer? “
They were planning a launch concert webcast at the Ministry, “but we just heard that the standards have changed. Before, musicians had to keep two meters apart, except now, for the brass and the singer, it is three meters. It complicates the process: if you wanted to film for a webcast, it becomes difficult to have good shots from a distant camera “.
But as long as there is funk …