J-Zone and Pablo Martin are the Du-Rites, and they’re hoping to funk you right out of your seat.
Greasy expands on the funky foundations the two laid out on the first album and tightens them up for a more immersive experience. Make no mistakes though, while refined, it is still steeped in the gritty charm that made their debut so enjoyable.
Always one for humor and style, Zone has injected his signature brand of energy into the fabric of this release and Pablo Martin (of Tom Tom Club fame) keeps the vibes high with his stellar array of guitar rifts and melodies.
These two mean business and embrace their rugged, DIY sound.
Prox: Could you tell us about how the Du-Rites came together? Why do you think you two work so well together?
J-Zone: Pablo was the mastering engineer for all my albums except the first one. I didn’t even realize he was a musician until he gave me a CD after knowing him for years. He was always my friend and first call for mastering, but we didn’t work on any music until I really started playing drums in 2012. I posted something on Facebook about looking for musicians to jam with so I could get my skills up as a drummer and he was the only one who responded. We jammed and came up with The Chief & I, which was on our first album. After that, we’d get together on holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving and jam and write songs because his family was back in Argentina and I don’t have many relatives still around.
I think we work well together because each of us has a musical perspective the other doesn’t have, but we’re both familiar with each other’s work and can bring different ideas without stepping on each other’s toes.
Prox: Neither of you are strangers to acclaim. Were you fans of each other’s work before you got the chance to meet?
Pablo: I don't have memories of sharing any of my music with Jay before we started playing together. Me on the other hand, being the mastering engineer, I'm familiar with Jay’s whole catalogue. I'm a fan. 5-Star Hooptie is my all time favorite.
Prox: Both of you are veteran musicians, but in different genres. How have you two managed to use that experience to create this brand of music? Is there ever a clash of ideas?
J-Zone: My hip-hop background brings a certain vibe when it comes to the drums and the actual sound of the records, but his rock, pop and Latin backgrounds bring us composition ideas that make us sound different than the average retro-funk band trying to copy James Brown, Motown, Stax or P-Funk. All of that inspires us, but we’re open to each other’s ideas because there’s so much unexplored territory in funk and we want to tap into it all. Funk isn’t even a genre option on Soundcloud and Tunecore. There’s so much room to add to the canon, so we just take what we do naturally and make it funky without overthinking or being too academic about it.
Pablo: We come from different musical backgrounds, but it is pretty clear for us that The Du-Rites are strictly funk. I do use my punk rock knowledge to be wise when it comes to knowing the amount of loose ends we're gonna leave on every song, so it still sounds fresh, minimal and open.
We want to be the opposite of the pony-tailed sax player that thinks because he went to Berklee College he can funk. We keep it raw.
Prox: How does Greasy Listening differ from the first LP you dropped? What have you learned from that project and carried into this latest effort?
J-Zone: A lot of that first album was built on jams. The early stages of recording that album I only played drums when it came to the actual composition.
The musical side of all the big orchestration stuff was all Pablo up to a certain point.
After we had half the album done, I started composing songs from the keyboard and contributing from a melodic standpoint.
I was still new to composing that way, so a lot of the songs I brought to the fold were really raw, the total opposite of what Pablo wrote. Stuff like Bug Juice and Git’n Off had maybe one or two chords at the most and focused more on drum breaks, riffs and solos. This time around we wanted to pay more attention to detail when it came to the composition. I put some more time in with the chord progressions and tried to make it more interesting and not so jam-heavy. There’s more spoken vocals also. The first album was almost entirely instrumental.
Pablo: We dropped the first album and for a small project it was a big success. Now how are we gonna move forward from there? Second albums are often the ones that define longevity; it’s a complicated task to achieve something consistent with the first, yet different. So this time, we got rid of the big orchestrations - not without trying first, they just didn’t work with the new material – and that to me was a huge discovery. We were always adding on the first album. For this one, we were subtracting and the more stuff we got rid of the better it sounded. It's a classic second album: mean, dirty and to the point. One guitar, one bass, one organ, and drums – done.
Prox: Please discuss the creative process behind your favorite track on the album. Do you two agree on what the “best” track is?
Pablo: I can state that there is nothing on this album or the first one that I won't stand behind. Greasy is sort of a concept album meant to be listened to as a whole and that's how I enjoy it. Still, every song has it's own story. I like Mr. Porter. We were in the studio on a writing session looking for ideas and the idea behind this particular track was the bass player stood us up and we have the studio [time], so we have to deal. We had an organ, so we wrote the bass line on the organ, adding the other hand was kind of inevitable, one guitar, and drums. I think that song is 4 or 5 tracks at the most and it still sounds huge. Fabuloso! is the first time I’ve had a lead vocal on vinyl so that one’s sort of a milestone for me.
J-Zone: My favorites are Woody The Wino and The Bronx Is Burning. With Woody The Wino, I’d written some chord progressions over that drum track and sent to Pablo, but the chords were too jazzy and it wasn’t grooving right with all the instruments on top. So Pablo kept the drums and rewrote the song on top of that rhythm. I was so inspired by the riff he had going that I went back and re-recorded the drums and keyboards to match the energy. At the end we’re doing all types of funny things with the time and the bar structure. I dig that one most probably, but I’m proud of the whole album.
Prox: You’ve been getting a lot of opportunities to work on films and TV. Do you think we could possibly see an entire Du-Rites film score in the future?
J-Zone: Definitely. That’s actually a goal of ours, to score films and produce and play on an entire album for one vocalist. I think those would make more sense than touring.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Pablo: Our final thoughts on a project are the beginning of the next one.
Greasy Listening is available on major retailers September 22nd, 2017.
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