By Ben Doy
"It's cold as hell!" George Clinton tells me over the phone from New Jersey. The Godfather of funk is certainly looking forward to relative warmth of Australia and New Zealand this April where he's set to play with his band the Parliament Funkadelic.
The Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame inductee is heading to our neck of the woods to perform at the Byron Bay Blues Festival (April 2-6) and will cross the Tasman for a special show at The Powerstation in Auckland onWednesday April 8th. George gave me the inside scoop about what to expect. "I'll tell you what, tell everyone to bring two booties. Because you're going to wear one booty out!" he excitedly tells me. "It'll be long & funky & groovy... it'll be a big party. If you've been to a P-Funk show you'll know what to do."
Unfortunately I haven't been to a George Clinton / P-Funk show before, despite being hit by the Bop Gunmany years ago. My first initiation to the P-Funk experience was watching the outfit take to the stage with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the 1992 Grammy Awards performing the Chili's hit ‘Give It Away', and since then I've never looked back.
"Oh yeah, right. That was a party there" he explains. "We first met in Detroit, Michigan when I did the album with them (1985's Freaky Styley). But that was some night... all of us together, that was a party. That was Parliament Funkadelic, Chili Peppers, and Weapon of Choice. That was a show that day."
But that was just one of the many collaborations that George Clinton has featured on. He's worked with the likes of Prince, Primal Scream, Warren G, Outkast, Wu Tang Clan, and Carlos Santana... to name but a few. So which has his favourite been?
"That one (with the Chili Peppers) and I did some recording also with Thomas Dolby. He really knows what he's doing and likes to experiment. We had a lot of fun doing his record and my record. But I've also had fun with Snoop... Dre... Tupac... all of them. They were like family back in LA. The Tupac record ‘Can't C Me'... Dre is a really good producer and that was like being at home. The record ‘Bop Gun' with Ice Cube, that was just like doing my own record. "
Funk is one of those unique genres that can easily cross over to a variety of music, with elements often being heard in Pop, Rock, Metal, Soul, Hip Hop and Jazz. "Yeah, I mean some of the funkiest music is jazz you know what I'm saying? But now you've got electronic music... you know I'm looking for a funky polka!" he laughs.
And who is George listening to from today's scene? "Kendrick Lamar... and you can't miss Pharrell. He's all over the place. My grandkids are always showing me stuff and I forget their names... but I like it!"
Speaking of his Grandkids, they'll be joining Clinton for his New Zealand show. "Yeah, they made most of the new album with me. There will be six grandkids with me when I come to New Zealand."
So at the age of 73, how much longer can George Clinton with the Parliament Funkadelic be able to tour and bring funk music to the world?
"I just did a hologram with Sly Stone and myself" he replies. So we'll be around forever!"
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
Wednesday April 8th: The Powerstation, Auckland
Tickets via Ticketmaster