Named after the world’s most divisive fruit, funk band Durian are testing the boundaries of taste.
Durian like the word ‘dirty’, they like it a lot – so much so that the band named themselves after the world’s most passion inflaming fruit. Inspiring both reverence and revulsion, this ‘king of fruits’ as it is known in Southeast Asia is described as smelling like almonds or, more commonly, gym socks.
Aside from ‘dirty’, the word ‘funky’ also seems to cover it – and that’s precisely what Durian is aiming for. The Advisor squeezed into their rehearsal space at Tchou Tchou on Street 21 last week to discuss dirty funk, disgusting fruit, and not being dropped on your head as a child.
The Advisor: Tell us everything.
Chris: The idea was to put together dirtier funk; to get away from the disco, shimmery, synthetic type stuff in favour of the R&B, soul of Detroit, heavy hitting horn section funk. It’s good stuff. Our first gig was in October last year, after we noticed a staggering lack of amazing funk in town. The line-up has been fluid, but we’ve been lucky enough to maintain a pretty steady core.
We were voted the top band in Phnom Penh on the Expat Advisory website before we’d even played. We’ve all been around in various bands before, so people had probably heard what was going on.
Our sound is a dirty, hit you in the stomach kind of funk. Sort of like Motown, R&B, soul funk. James Brown, some more modern stuff like D’Angelo. We try to have a real rocking, irresistible, dirty funk sound. Dirty is the adjective I use the most when describing us, which is probably why I picked the name durian. Nasty and disgustingly funky is what we’re going for. Jess is our sweet side. She’s bringing in some ballads, some Etta James. When we had eight people, it was like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Seven guys doing our thing, and then Jess is our sweet centre.
Jess: Durian smells like rotten eggs. Graeme: I think it smells great. I never got it. The Advisor: Were you dropped on your head as a child? Graeme: No, but a durian was dropped on my head...
The Advisor: OK, influences?
Jess: One of the things I noticed when we first sat down to discuss our influences was that we’re all very different; we come from very different musical backgrounds, from opera to jazz to punk rock to soul to everything [Nick once won $800 in a children’s opera chorus – which his sister promptly ‘borrowed’ for two years, and Graeme is a punk rocker turned investment banker].
Chris: Right now, we don’t have any original songs. We just select songs that other people don’t know – and take the credit for them [laughs]. We look for rare, eclectic gems and bring them to the fore. We do some real classics: Ray Charles, Curtis Mayfield.
Nick: But then we swing into Jamiroquai and even Rage Against The Machine.
Chris: Yeah, the funk version of Killing In The Name Of? It’s pretty cool. I don’t think we really have any rules. It’s got to be good, but we’ve definitely brought in a huge range of sounds and it’s working for us.
Jess: What we’ve discovered is that playing in front of an energetic audience really makes us click. Rehearsal is great, but I didn’t notice how much energy we all had until we first played at Titanic and everything gelled together.
Chris: Yeah, Graeme’s pretty chilled in rehearsals, but get him on-stage and... GLASSHOPPER!
The Advisor: I’m sensing the potential... So what’s next? Have you made any plans?
Chris: Basically we try, but it usually fails. We want to keep filling out our set – we’re past the stage where we have to play everything we know – so that we can decide what the show’s going to be like and put together a set based on the feeling we want to go for. Ultimately, we’d like to start writing original music, but it’s hard to get all of us in the same room.
WHAT: Dirty, disgusting funk ‘with a badass horn section’
WHERE: Equinox, #3a St. 278
WHEN: March 23
WHY: Did we mention dirty?
This article was 1st published in The Advisor - All back issues are available as downloads here
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