MUDBONE: Once A Funk, Always A Funk!
Interview conducted by Imran Mirz
Taking just the right amount of funk, blues, soul and gospel, Gary “Mudbone” Cooper has successfully fused these elements and come up with “Fresh Mud” – a cohesive, consistent and strong debut solo outing from the man whose résumé in the music world reads like an encyclopaedia: a vocalist with Parliament and Funkadelic, as well as co-founder of Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Mudbone can also boast collaborations with Prince, Herbie Hancock, Ginger Baker, The Ramones and Keith Richards. He is also credited for co-writing Freedom’s Coming for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 initiative, along with providing vocal arrangements for Bono and Brian May. “Fresh Mud” sees Mudbone finally able to incorporate his techniques into a long-time-coming solo album that is as rich in musical diversity and quality as the line-up of his past collaborators would suggest.
“Fresh Mud” is one of those treasures that would be a welcome discovery for music fans around the world, and showcases Mudbone to be an incredible artist in his own right. For a man who has gone on to help make Parliament, Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band staple names in the funk world, this album will hopefully have as much success in presenting ‘Mudbone’ as a name worthy of future achievements and accolades.
Liberation Frequency was honoured when the legendary Gary “Mudbone” Cooper agreed to take time off from his busy schedule, which has included promoting “Fresh Mud” and touring separately with P!nk and Maceo Parker, to fill us in about his time with Parliament/Funkadelic, “Fresh Mud”, Dave Stewart and lots more.
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: How do you look back on your time with Parliament/Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band?
MUDBONE: I see all of the musical experiences with them as one of the best training camps in the music industry. I had to work with the main 3 acts you mentioned in your question, but was involved singing, writing, arranging, playing drums, vocal coaching, co producing, etc. with the other acts that were part of George’s production company such as, The Brides of Funkenstein, Parlet, Horny Horns, Eddie Hazel, etc. Live it was a challenge to open for Parliament-Funkadelic with Bootsy’s Rubber Band, then change clothes and go onstage with George for 2, 3, or more hours. My tolerance became stronger than the average artist performing live and it gave me great chops for singing. Bootsy’s Rubber Band was JB disciplined like military and George was “Free Your Mind”.
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: Did you feel “Fresh Mud” was a long time coming, or did you never really consider a solo career until recently?
MUDBONE: Back in the day when P-Funk was lord of Production and concerts 2 nd to Kiss, it was often mentioned by George and Bootsy about doing a solo record, but I was cool and content being a team player, seeing that we all were winning in the big picture, I didn’t feel I had to have that to be happier. Of course I could have did it long ago, with all the recording experience I had with George, and all his productions, Bill Laswell, Mtume, etc. but felt secure doing what I was good at doing, helping the whole team win. When Dave Stewart and I met in 2001, he proposed me to do a recording with him, me being the front man and I took him up on it. I’m happy to have the privilege to make “Fresh Mud” with him and glad that it’s being appreciated by folks like yourself as well as others. I love music, it’s Freedom!
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: When approaching this album, what did you set out to achieve or reflect in your music?
MUDBONE: I wanted to achieve the joy of expression with a wonderful entity named Dave Stewart, who believed in me enough to give me a chance. Also it was a chance to musically do something different from my P-Funk base. I can always be Funky, once a funk always a funk. “Fresh Mud” has a lil blues, hip hop, rap, gospel, funk, dj, etc... I don’t think it gets too much nicer than that.
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: The collaboration with Dave Stewart just seems like such natural chemistry – how did his involvement in the project come about?
MUDBONE: Bootsy Collins invited me to his recording studio in 2001, when I was visiting my family and friends in the states. He said he was working with Dave Stewart who I wasn’t aware of at the time. Then Bootsy mentioned The Eurythmics and told me Dave was the producer/guitarist for Eurythmics, and was doing a solo project and thought it would be cool if I could join him to record some vocals for his album. I went to Bootsy’s studio, sung, and wrote some ideas for the single, “Jealousy”.
Thinking nothing of it, I went back to Paris and got a call almost 2 weeks later from Dave’s office, saying he was happy with the song, my voice, and wanted to meet me. He did a concert in Paris at Euro-Disney, which I went to see, and he invited me to sit in with him and his group, I did. After the show he gave me his info to contact and meet him at a hotel he was staying at in Paris, so I visited him the next day. Upon meeting him, he introduced me to his daughter, asked me to sing her a song, I did, and her little face lit up like a lamp. Right after, he said straight away he wanted to do an album with me. Astonished, I said nothing, being impressed that he had even asked. In my mind I was thinking this is the guy that works with the great singer Annie Lennox, and now he’s saying he wants to do an album with me.. yeah right.
Few weeks later I got another call from his office, with an invite from Dave to come to London and record some ideas. 3 days and 7 songs later, I returned to Paris with a presentation that was so impressive, it impacted me to stop a 3 ½ pack a day cigarette habit, and focus on a great opportunity, with a great producer, and fantastic music, the rest is history. I thank Dave for truly being a genuine individual, with enormous talent and inspiration, powerful enough to motivate me to reach for creativity and drop the habit that could have taken my voice and life away.
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: Fresh Mud boasts a huge line-up of collaborations (Candy Dulfer, Nadira X, Bob Dylan, Jools Holland) – can you talk a little about how you hooked up with some of the artists you worked with?
MUDBONE: More than a dream come true, because I never dreamed I’d work with the likes of such dynamically talented people. Dave is the sole connection that got Bob, Candy, Jools, and Nadirah involved in the project. Dave’s worked with them all and countless others to mention. I remember when we were doing “Home” and Dave said, “Hey Mud, I like to try these bits with Bob’s input”, and he made it happen. I’m still amazed by my association with Dave and all the wonderful people and things I’ve had a chance to do. Meeting Mick Jagger, Bono, Edge, Nelson Mandela, Beyonce, etc has been a blessing beyond measure that I could have never organized or planned that way. Wow!!!
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: “Fresh Mud” has such a unique sound – have you given any thought to what musical direction you would take a follow-up album in?
MUDBONE: Can’t really say now, because since the recording I’ve acquired a super band, and they play the same songs with a different edge live, which you had chance to witness. I may go a little more rock, not sure, but it’ll stay fresh and good!
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: Are there any artists that you’re currently listening to nowadays that you’d like to work with, or that you’re just a fan of?
MUDBONE: I check out everything to know what’s out there, but I’m not impressed by all I hear. There’s so many sound alike artists and groups talking about the same ole same ole boring topics, bling bling, money, cars, etc. I like to think there’s more to life than that and sing about something with integrity. I’m open to do some things with other artists especially if we can kick things up another level. Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, Dre, Snoop, all of em’s cool. I like Norah Jones, Joss Stone, and others in different genres such as gospel like Fred Hammond, etc. I miss a lot of the good old music with the good stories, melodies, and master musicianship, but life is full of changes and that’s what we have to do, or get left behind.
Mudbone’s debut solo album “Fresh Mud” is available for purchase now on Influx Records.
For more info on “Fresh Mud”, feel free to check out Liberation Frequency’s album review in our Reviews & Features section and of course, visit http://www.mud-bone.com/!
Liberation Frequency would like to offer a special thanks to Lewis Kovac for helping put this interview together.