Tuesday, September 25, 2012

INTERVIEW: Sheer Khan and the Space Case

Putting the Fun Back into Austin's Funk
Sheer Khan and the Space Case

By Sean Claes
With a name like Sheer Khan and the Space Case, I knew I was in for something different when I got the CD in the mail. Add the fact that their CD was entitled Tropical Space Funk and the CD looked like it was on an acid trip (all the pretty colors) and I was certain it was either going to be really good or extemely bad.

This is a fantastically fun jam band that has funk and reggae influences to their sound. What set it off for me was the fact that is just sounded like they were having a great time. The band was formed in 2008 when Kasey Jaime (Bass/Vocals) and Brice Bowden (Vocals/Guitar) met as coworkers at Freebirds World Burrito. As of press-time David McKnight (Saxophone/keys - formerly of Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears) and Travis Rea (drums) round out the band.

I had a chance to talk with Kasey Jaime recently about the band, some of the music, and the future of the funk.

Sean Claes: What’s in a name… Why choose Sheer Khan (assuming the reference to Shere Khan from The Jungle Book)
Kasey Jaime: Funny question actually, We all grew up in the era with the Disney movie so it makes it easy to associate the name with that reference. I read the book as well growing up and liked him ever since. But because of the movie, its in our heads.

Brice (Bowden) actually had a friend back in his hometown with a gigantic “peace pipe” that always was on the hunt for little kids running through the forest, so they named it Sheer Khan. Brice then vowed that he would call his band the same and it started there.

Claes: Sheer Khan and the Space Case has been around for about four years. How do you feel you’ve progressed musically?
Jaime: Man. Honestly, we have had so many line up changes since then. Bringing in new people allows you to jam with others and new ideas. It’s the grooving with new ideas that causes us to grow musically and makes our songs get better too.

It has caused me to seek out new musicians to jam with because everyone can teach you something. Good or bad, a new sound will cause you to think differently.

Claes: How’d you form?
Jaime: Brice and I (Kasey) met while working at Freebirds back in 2008 and we started jamming in his apartment. We originally had another drummer and another guitar player jump on board and we started to create a sound that we have been working on since.

When those two dropped out, we found Aadrian (Pedroza) on Craigslist and found (David) McKnight through a mutual friend of Brice’s at ACC. The four of us put in tons of work together and created our album, Tropical Space Funk.

Unfortunately, after our cd release, Aadrian dropped out for his own personal reasons. We found Travis Rea through mutual drinking buddies and have been getting him up to speed ever since. He is a fast learner and brings a new style into our sound. He also plays in Strange Gun.

Claes: In August you performed “Loony Bus” for a Balcony TV shoot (posted above).
Jaime: That was a fun afternoon. Balcony TV is pretty cool. They had us meet at Joe’s Crab Shack and we set our stuff up in a tiny corner on the patio. As you can tell from the video, there were six of us so space was limited.

We were told we had 30 minutes to run through the song making sure it was perfect. As the first take ended, the video man told us, “Alright, that was great, Thanks Guys” Of course we messed up a bit because of no warm ups, but since it was such a long song, they let us do only one take!

Claes: What’s the song about?
Jaime: We came up with that song by jamming in our garage. We put all the pieces together and needed a name. It reflected our mix of styles so we called it “The Looney Bus.” We call our van The Looney Bus and it stuck ever since!

Claes: On to the music. You’ve got that feel-good funk/reggae feel and you’ve captured your sound well in your debut CD – Tropical Space Funk. Tell me about how you chose the 15 tracks to include.
Jaime: For the last 4 years, we have been developing our sound, writing new songs and putting words to some of them. As we were preparing for the recording process, the thought of capturing the listener and getting them glued to the cd were important. The order was a headache to put together, but once we figured it out, it was ready!

Do you have a favorite track on the album?
Jaime: “Drunk on the Funk” is a favorite. I also really enjoy “Hot Buttered Buns!” I got to play an old school Mini Moog which sounded sick!

Claes: If I had to pick a favorite party track from your album, I’d probably pick “Drunk on the Funk.” How’d that track come to life?
Jaime: We played the 512 Brewery’s launch party for a beer last Octoberish and as we were waiting for the first band to show up it happened. Four overall clad hippies got out of their hatchback with tons of Christian hippie stickers on the back door. You could tell they were different and far out.

A girl started carrying a stand up bass to the music area so I asked what kind of music they played. What she said next was the perfect start to a day of drinking and funk! “We play gospel music. We are hoping to put a little bit of Jesus into everyone today.”

I couldn’t tell if it was a joke or not. McKnight then started singing Jesus gave me the funk. A few months later, we had the perfect shell for that chorus and the song was born!

Claes: Is there a crowd favorite when you play live?
Jaime: “Buccaneer’s Howl.” People are drinking at shows and who doesn’t love pirates??

Claes: Speaking of…September 16 was “International Talk Like A Pirate Day.” Did you have occasion to play “Buccaneer’s Howl?”
Jaime: Of course, we made sure during practice we busted that one out. Instead of beers, we had rum!

Claes: Reggae/Funk music lost a great venue when Ruta Maya closed last month. Along with Flamingo Cantina, Ruta Maya seemed to be base-camp for supporters of this style of music. Have we seen another club step-up?
Jaime: Man, we are still looking out for that one. We have been playing a lot at The Music Ranch, it’s a mutual love from us and the staff out there! In fact, we just played the Alloveus Festival put on by our friends at The Music Ranch. Still trying to find a perfect place to release our tropical space funk at!

Claes: Where are some of your favorite places to play?
Jaime: Of course The Music Ranch. We really miss Ruta Maya. Flamingo is a fun place to be especially for the reggae side of all of us! We got to play the Continental Club and Stubbs last year, great stages. Still looking to get into The Mohawk, so if any of yall out there wanna hook us up, funk yeah!

Claes: What are your thoughts about the Austin music scene.
Jaime: It’s a loving community. At least for us, most of the bands we have met over the years have helped develop into great friendships and prosperous shows! Its great to go out any night and find some music playing and hopefully that doesn’t stop!

Claes: Who are some Austin bands we should be listening to?
Jaime: We really love Henry + The Invisibles. That guy can entertain and he seems to like us! Some more of our friends in the Jam-Funk scence like FunkOTron, Holding Space, Loose Leaf, Dimitri’s Ascent.

Also some of our favorite Reggae Bands like Ashes of Babylon and Audic Empire. Also, if you ever see a gig with Brice and The Blind Mice, stop in and say hello to us!

Claes: Looks like you’ve got a gig coming up on Sunday 9/30 at Austin’s Pecan Street Festival at 4p on the Trinity Stage. What can we expect from a mid-day show?
Jaime: You will get tons of energy from us! You will also have a chance to hear us with the Hometown Horns, the guys that recorded the extra horn parts on our album, Eduardo Ramirez and Marc Oran. Expect something different playing in the streets!

What else is coming up for Sheer Khan and the Space Case?
Jaime: More music, more fun. We are constantly writing new songs and since releasing the album, we already have about 3 new songs put together.

Constantly putting together shows and meeting with new bands.

October 5th we play Maggie Mae’s.
October 13th We play Frank.
October 19th 512 Bar.
October 27th at Frontier Bar for our Halloween show!

We are also looking to set up a tour but still figuring out to where. We have a lot of friends all over the place so picking our destination is difficult sometimes.

Claes: Anything to add?
Jaime: Try adding 46819273+9854671 and tell me what you get!

You can find our album all over the internet such as Itunes and Spotify and Amazon! Help us out. We have T-shirts and stickers and lighters too!

Long Live The Funk!