In the previous two Spring Screams, Funky Brothers (放客兄弟) played one of the best time slots — a testament to their growing popularity.
Their show last year was more about the weather than the music. In the downpour, half-dressed friends jumped up and danced with the band, slipped and fell and then got kicked off the stage.
This year, a soft mist enveloped lead singer Airy Liu (劉怡伶) as she displayed her sultry vocal chops, while the band showed off how tight it had become just in the past year due to spending lots of time in the studio. After years of planning, Funky Brothers have finally recorded their self-titled debut album, which will be launched with a show on Friday at The Wall (這牆).
Liu says she enjoyed being in school choirs, but didn’t set out to be a singer. “I really wanted to learn how to play the drums,” she said. “I ended up becoming pretty good, but my father thought that drums were for boys.”
After high school, Liu moved from what was then known as Taichung to Taipei City and got into a car accident that left her arm in a cast for six months. It was then that she started to take singing seriously. “When I am singing, my brain is different,” Liu said. “I feel alive and feel like people accept me.”
After performing with a few cover bands, Liu joined the Funky Brothers in 2009. The boys had extended an invite, saying they wanted the different sounds a female vocalist would bring. Liu adjusted quickly to the unusual group dynamic.
“It is a band of brothers,” Liu said. “Brothers that sometimes fuck things up and are late or get into fights, but we don’t care because we treat each other like family.”
While Funky Brothers were gaining a reputation for playing an eclectic live show, they were also making plans to record a studio album, plans that didn’t materialize.
They also applied for government grants, but never got approved. “I don’t know why we didn’t get government money,” Liu said. “But we have great friends who love to come to our shows, so I thought we should involve them.”
Liu was intrigued by the idea of crowd-funding and the Web site Kickstarter. She came across Taiwan’s version, Flying V, and wanted to ask for NT$600,000 to record, market and distribute an album. But she was rejected.
Unfazed, she met with the owners of Flying V, who advised her to set up a more realistic goal of getting NT$350,000 over the two-month period. Funky Brothers ended up smashing the goal.
ALBUM OF FUNK
Damien Caillou, the fedora-wearing saxophonist of Funky Brothers, loves the new album. “It is representative of the years of playing onstage together,” Caillou said. “It is also very new since we tried a lot of different arrangements. Even if people know our songs, we expect them to be surprised.”
Liu feels that the recording went naturally and is very excited for people to hear the album. “If people enjoy our live shows, they will like the CD,” Liu said.