When it comes to New Orleans music, The Neville Family are royalty. The Meters and the Neville Brothers put their own “Big Easy” spin on funk, R&B and soul. Their influence is still felt today and includes Dumpstaphunk who hail from the same city and are part of the same family. Ivan Neville, son of R&B and soul legend Aaron Neville, leads the band on the keys and vocals.
On June 8 and 9, Dumpstaphunk are performing two shows in Connecticut, the first at The Warehouse in Fairfield and the second at Infinity Music Hall in Hartford.
Ivan Neville and I had the chance recently to talk about how the band started on a whim, how Hurricane Katrina affected the band’s beginnings, their latest album Where Do We Go From Here, and a new solo record he’s working on.
RD: Dumpstaphunk started on a whim back in 2003 when you had a solo gig lined up at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Going from that time to now, how has the sound of the band evolved?
IN: We’ve grown in a lot of ways while hanging around and still being able to do what we love, in that way you just kind of naturally evolve. When we started out, it wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t like I was going to start a group that I thought was going to be around this long, I was just trying to play a gig and I wanted to do something different. The people that got together for the gig had a chemistry that was absolutely undeniable and we decided that this must be a band going forward. Over the years we’ve gone through all kinds of things.
Being from New Orleans and what comes with that along with coming from the Neville lineage and being part of the music that’s come before us, being influenced and having friendships with a lot of our heroes, it’s helped us get through some hard times. Hurricane Katrina and things of that nature, the hurricane in particular was a catalyst for us becoming a full-time band. We were basically a part-time group that did a great one-off gig at the Jazz & Heritage Festival and then we went on to play a few other gigs at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and the Jam Cruise back in 2006 and 2007 respectively. After that, it was cemented in our hearts and souls that this was a band and we had to keep this thing going. Just going through life as you go through it over the years, you’re blessed enough to hang around, keep waking up and getting the opportunity to play music to put smiles on people’s faces, dance a little bit and you can’t help but evolve.
Creatively, our influences have merged and they’ve become part of what we do. That’s what I really appreciate about the sound of our band, you can hear some stuff and some little hints of different things like The Meters, Sly & The Family Stone and Parliament-Funkadelic and others. Those three acts are very influential to us, especially The Meters since they’re friends and family. You appreciate the fact that when you listen to your music you hear those influences but you also hear the originality that’s coming from this group of guys. We’ve absorbed our influences and it comes out but it sounds like a new reimagining of all these different types of music.
RD: Before you started Dumpstaphunk you had a reputable solo career with four albums out under your own name, you had a hit single with Bonnie Raitt titled “Falling Out Of Love” in the late ‘80s and you did some other things. What in your opinion is the biggest difference between the Dumpstaphunk sound and the music you were making as a solo artist before the band started?
IN: I guess the most obvious difference is that Dumpstaphunk is a band and right now we have seven people in the group. Myself, Tony Hall, my cousin Ian Neville and Nick Daniels III are the original guys with Deven Trusclair on drums, Alex Wasily on trombone and Ashlin Parker on trumpet. When you’re with a group and you have multiple opinions, we take turns driving in that setting. When I’m doing my own stuff, those guys are playing on it and in fact I’ve been working on a solo project that they’re going to be on. The difference is my creative process as a writer when I’m writing by myself is a different mindset and a different environment.
That’s generally what separates the two processes, me doing solo stuff versus what I do with the band. It’s pretty obvious when you think about it, you have a group of people that all have strong opinions and then you have me sitting in a room by myself writing a song. It’s a different game.
RD: A little over a year ago, Dumpstaphunk released their latest album Where Do We Go From Here, which is the band’s first release in eight years and it has guest appearances from Trombone Shorty, Marcus King & Chali 2na from the Jurassic 5. What was the experience like making the album after such a long gap time since your previous release while having Shorty, Marcus and Chali involved?
IN: We made this record kind of piecemeal where we did bits and pieces over several years. We didn’t go into the studio and sit there for a couple weeks or a month or so to make this record, we took bits and pieces over several years like I said. When we got to the pandemic it ended up being like ok, we got all this music and now we have some time so let’s finish what we’ve been working on. This song has some potential, this one’s good but it needs a little work so lets work on this stuff, let’s finish this thing up. That’s basically what happened, we had enough material to make a record so we spruced it up and made it sound good to see what we could do with it.
We called up Trombone Shorty, then we had Chali 2na who we were acquainted with so it sounded like a good idea to have him collaborate with us as well as Marcus. We had been introduced to Marcus recently and that’s basically it. It’s cool when you have some friends come and help you out and contribute to your project. It’s cool when you can do that kind of stuff and we absolutely appreciate these relationships with some great musicians and some great people.
RD: Speaking of great musicians, what was it like contributing keyboards for the Rolling Stones on their albums Dirty Work and Voodoo Lounge along with being part of Keith Richards’ solo band the X-Pensive Winos during the late ’80s and the mid-’90s?
IN: That’s some of my favorite stuff that I’ve ever done. Playing with Keith and getting to play on those records with The Stones was pretty cool. As a matter of fact, on Dirty Work I actually played bass on a song.
IN: Yeah, I played bass on a tune called “Hold Back” and that’s probably my favorite credit of all-time to tell you the truth. Being part of Voodoo Lounge was obviously an honor and a privilege, I sang some background vocals as well on that and it was a fun time. Getting to play with Keith when he did Talk Is Cheap and Main Offender while we toured around as the X-Pensive Winos, next to Dumpstaphunk that band is probably my favorite band I’ve ever played with. It was just wild, we actually played together not that long ago this past year at Love Rocks NYC at the Beacon Theater.
RD: I heard about that.
IN: We stomped it, man. That was a good time and I’m honored, I’m honored to have been able to play on a couple Stones records and to play with Keith. It’s stuff that you want to do, it’s stuff that you dream of doing. I got to do some of it, I’m happy for it and I hope I get to do more of it.
RD: I hope you get to do more of it as well. You mentioned earlier how you’re working on a new solo album, so do you plan on having it out later this year or next year?
IN: I would say maybe a single or two or three might hit the airwaves before long. The album will probably come out next year.
The Warehouse, Fairfield
Wednesday, June 8
Doors open at 7 p.m.
Infinity Music Hall, Hartford
Thursday, June 9
Tickets $28 – $35
Doors open at 7 p.m.