Give me the beat, boys

Chicago Afrobeat Project at Oddbody’s

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Chicago Afrobeat Project will perform at Oddbody’s on Jan. 10

Since forming more than a decade ago, Chicago Afrobeat Project has continuously pushed musical boundaries.

Dayton City Paper recently sat down with Chicago Afrobeat Project’s guitarist David Glines to talk about Afrobeat as a genre, their recent collaboration with Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen and what to expect from their upcoming Dayton show.

Does having “Afrobeat” in your name confine the sound [of your music] in any way or is it liberating to really focus in on one particular style?

David Glines: I think it’s a little bit of both. People that know Afrobeat get excited when they see our band’s name and know what they’re going to get, to a certain extent. What we try to do with our music is take a genre and bend it a little bit. I think as an artist, sometimes having certain creative parameters in place, actually gives you a little bit of structure to play with. … It’s not a complete blank slate. So, one could argue it’s limiting, but there’s enough room for what we’re doing in the genre and how we try to bend it that really gives us creative freedom.

What is it like to play with someone like Tony Allen?

DG: Playing with Tony, after a while, is just like walking. It’s so effortless, in terms of the style we’re playing, the feel we have and what we’re trying to go for. It’s unlike any other musical experience I’ve had in my life. He’s been such a mentor to us and he’s such a unique individual. For someone like Tony, who’s been doing it for 50 years, whatever he does has elements of Afrobeat ingrained into the DNA. Even if he’s playing Rockabilly, it’s going to still have an Afrobeat element. It truly changed my perspective and how I think of music. It feels great. It’s certainly one of the highlights of our career in the band so far.

I’ve found that many bands that are known for their live shows can struggle in the studio. How do you approach the two different processes and how to they inform each other?

DG: What we’re doing right now is different than what we’ve been doing the last few years. For the last decade we’ve been playing almost nonstop and we tour constantly and we release albums whenever we can. But I think the direction of the band is changing. We want to be as creative and collaborative with each other as possible. Touring is tiring, man. It’s so much fun and we love it, and there’s something about live music that’s very different than being in the recording studio. But you come back and you just kind of need to recharge the batteries a little bit. I think getting in the studio really does that. It’s a different type of creativity. For us, we tend to write a couple themes of our music ahead of time, and then we write the structure of a song. We’ll put it on the road for as many shows as we can, then we’ll come back in the studio and rework some of the parts. When we play live, it’s a great way to try things out and eventually they kind of settle into place once we hit the recording studio.

How excited are you to get this new album into the ears of the people who care about your music and what can we expect from your upcoming show at Oddbody’s?

DG: Excitement is off the charts. I can’t wait to get this out. I think it’s hands down our best sounding records, number one because Tony’s playing. We’ll probably be releasing some singles after that with the rest of the music and building on it, telling a great story about the experience we’ve had with Tony. I would say for 75 percent we had music prewritten that we worked on and recorded at Fullerton Studios, which Kevin, our keyboard player owns. That makes it really easy for us to record. The other 25 percent, we got into the studio with Tony and said, “Hey, Tony write a bass line,” and our bass player played something and Kevin and I would make up stuff on the spot, maybe write a horn theme, play that and kind of vibe off everybody for 10 or 15 minutes. It’s fun. The stuff with Tony has been such a life-changing experience that I can’t wait to show the rest of the world what this music sounds like.

If people have never seen us before, they can expect to dance their butts off. If they’ve seen us before, they can hopefully be excited about hearing some new music that we have not played in Ohio yet.

Chicago Afrobeat Project will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 10 at Oddbody’s Music Room, 5418 Burkhardt Rd. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 day of show. Special guests Jonny Dreads and the Mystiks will also play. For more information, please visit chicagoafrobeatproject.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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