Cincy’s The Almighty Get Down funks its way to Peach’s
By Justin Kreitzer
Photo: The Almighty Get Down’s Jon Lattier and Willy Morren (right) jam their all Nov. 26 at Peach’s; photo: Brian Glass
Cincinnati funk revivalists The Almighty Get Down are quickly becoming a must-see live act in Ohio with the word quickly spreading. The seven-member band is led by vocalist and guitarist Willy Morren, along with bassist Jon Lattier, keyboardist Tom Eliopulos, drummer Brad Grawe, and brass blasters Mac Clenney on trumpet, trombonist Brian Mountain, and saxophonist Jeff Demaree. Together, they create an original sound, which blends ’70s funk and soul, rock, and pop with a jam band’s mentality and an insanely fun and energetic live show to match. The band released their promising debut album People, This Is… in August 2014. The Almighty Get Down will bring their funk rock party anthems to the stage at Peach’s Bar and Grill in Yellow Springs Saturday, Nov. 26.
In anticipation, the Dayton City Paper spoke with frontman William “Willy” Morren about the formation of the band, their influences, their new album, and more.
First, as an introduction to new listeners, how and when did the band form?
Willy Morren: It really started when I decided to quit music professionally and just play for myself and with friends. I found myself at a place where I couldn’t logistically tour but I wanted to at least record an album, so I started writing music and getting musicians together for that and things evolved to where we started playing shows. We didn’t stop, and meanwhile, fate stepped in and granted me new abilities, the power to tour. I was in a band!
Your sound obviously takes its cues from ’70s funk pioneers such as Sly & The Family Stone, Slave, and others, but with so many members in the band with all different influences—like prog-metal band Between the Buried and Me—who are some of your other less obvious influences and how do they make their way into your music?
WM: Two for me would be Queen and Kiss. I requested some Kiss to help stay awake on the way home after a show recently and I could hear echoes of what I just played on stage in one of Ace Frehley’s solos, “Black Diamond” I think the song was… He’s in there floating around with Brian May, Hendrix, Roy Buchanan, and some of that dude I saw in a cover band at a fair when I was 12, each giving me a push when the time is right. I’m a big Kate Bush fan, I also like bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Supertramp, Journey…I grew up in the ’70s/’80s, so I’ll air guitar you some Rush and keep eye contact with you while singing all of the notes… the guitar brought me to listening to metal and then I’d end up learning something from the singer as well. The singer from Iron Maiden [Bruce Dickinson] has one of the most relaxed techniques I’ve heard… A funnier one is me channeling Rick James, though a more obvious influence…
Your spotlight is growing, having recently played the Werk Out Music and Arts Festival alongside fellow funk band Lettuce. How was
WM: The Werks and Lettuce are two bands [that] have successfully navigated through where we are now so it was part school field trip for us while it was also the joy playing our music at a festival full of music lovers. Werk Out is a festival that has made a dent in the map, due to the passion of the people who run it, and we felt lucky and thoughtful to be included.
I know your stunning debut album was released just last year but have you started working on your next album? Where are you at in the creative process?
WM: We have started recording the second album, though we keep getting sidetracked by offers for live shows that we can’t refuse, and while that’s nothing to complain about, it has delayed our process. We are just entering into a needed break from the stage where we will be finishing off the recordings and releasing some singles—it’s just what we needed. We dearly love the stage but we are frustrated about not having the newer songs available in recorded form for people to grow with at home and then crave hearing the band take it somewhere else live.
A lot of your songs are intended to get the crowd moving, especially the spirited and dynamic track, “Bullet” with its rollicking piano-led rhythm. What is your favorite song to play live and why?
WM: Our newest [song], “The Friends You Got.” I like it because it’s our most collaborative effort so far; I like how each player’s feel comes together and there is a certain buzz in the room I feel when we play it because of the converging forces…
For the uninitiated, what can be expected from a show by The Almighty Get Down?
WM: People giving their all because they love what they do; it’s going to be a shock, and you may want to stand up.
What does the future hold for the band?
WM: We’ll be releasing live videos, singles, an album, the hounds, the kraken, the doves… whatever’s not nailed down! It also holds the Thanksgiving Rockin’ Eve show at the 20th Century Theater here in Cincinnati where we will be putting the “band” back in “wild abandon”—please do show up.
The Almighty Get Down plays Saturday, Nov. 26 at Peach’s Grill, 104 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs. Show starts at 10 p.m. and is free, open to patrons 21 and up. For more information, please visit TheAlmightyGetDown.com.