Five Alarm Funk Teams Up With the Iconic Bootsy Collins for 'We Play the Funk': Video Premiere

Brendan Meadows
Five Alarm Funk

Most funk bands have a short list of dream collaborators -- and rest assured Bootsy Collins is on everyone's. And Vancouver's Five Alarm Funk is livin' that dream with "We Play The Funk," a new track whose video is premiering exclusively below.

"It's one of the great steps this band has ever taken," drummer and co-founder Tayo Branston tells Billboard about the track, which is featured on the octet’s Boots & Wheels EP. "Bootsy's the captain of funk, so for us to hop on board with him, man, it's such a pleasure and such an honor and an inspiration. It really pushes the band to new fans and into different people's ears. It's a real elevator, a huge lift."

Primarily an instrumental band to this point, FAF came up with the Collins idea while it was on tour last summer, thinking about adding vocals to the mix. "We were trying to switch up what we were doing," Branston recalls, "and we were like, 'Who would be a perfect fit?' Five Alarm is pretty outside of the box, pretty zany and intense. The first person who came to mind was Bootsy." FAF sent an email to Collins' management along with the "We Play The Funk" instrumental track. The legendary bassist/singer's reply was swift; "He said, 'I love it. Let's do it!'"

"Funk brings people together, I guess," Branston says. "He was just on board and it lined up perfectly with the new record he put out, World Wide Funk. It came together super seamlessly, and working with him was just easy." FAF hasn't yet met Collins, but Branston says that after "We Play The Funk" the group "is trying to push to have a little more interaction, maybe some other stuff come out. We'll see what happens there."

Collins, in fact, affirms that he's "looking very forward to working more with them in the near future" and calls working with FAF "a no brainer...When I first heard Five Alarm Funk it felt very familiar and something I could embrace...I felt it was fresh food for funk." The "We Play The Funk" video was icing on the cake. "The video is jammin' from beginning to the start of something fresh and new," Collins says. "For me it trips down memory lane with a bunch of musical freedom fighters going gung-ho just for the funk of it. All we ask in return is for you to have just as much fun as we do. This is not just a music video, this is a Groovement that will sweep one nation at a time. Soon we all will be onto first responders to Five Alarm Funk!"

FAF, according to Branston, has "tons of new music" with plans for a follow-up to its Juno Award-nominated 2017 release Sweat after a full slate of summer tour dates. "Hopefully we'll have other collaborations as well. We're trying to reach out to other people who are loving the funk," Branston says. "The momentum of the group is huge right now. Everybody is firing on all cylinders. We're 15 years in the game as a band. Everybody is fully committed and loves being on stage and loves putting records together. It's a fantastic team, and I feel privileged to be part of an environment where everybody is so passionate."

Tour Dates

Fri 6/15 — Nelson, BC — Hume Hotel

Sat 6/16 — Valemount, BC — Valemount Craft Beer Festival

Thu 6/21 — Prince George, BC — Royal Canadian Legion

Fri 6/22 — Joussard, AB — North Country Fair

Sat 6/23 — Swift Current, SK — Long Day’s Night Music Festival

Sun 6/24 — Regina, SK — Leo’s Parking Lot Party

Sun 7/1 — Sicamous, BC — Canada Day Festival

Thu-Fri 7/5-7/6 — London, ON — TD Sunfest

Thu-Sun 7/7-7/8 — Winnipeg, MB — Winnipeg Folk Festival

Wed 7/11 — Thunder Bay, ON — Live On The Waterfront

Fri-Sat 7/13-7/14 — Guelph, ON — Hillside Festival Grounds

Sun 7/15 — Windsor, ON — Olde Walkerville Theatre

Mon 7/16 — Peterborough, ON — The Red Dog

Wed 7/18 — Montreal, QC — Zone Musique

Thu 7/19 — Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts, QC — Auberge Festive Seashack

Fri 7/20 — Baie-St-Paul, QC — Le Festif Festival

Sat 7/21 — Toronto, ON — The Beaches International Jazz Festival

Sun 7/22 — Sarnia, ON — Paddy Flaherty’s

Tue 7/24 — St Paul, MN — Turf Club

Thu 7/26 — Bozeman, MT — The Filling Station

Fri 7/27 — Missoula, MT — The Top Hat

Sat 7/28 — Boise, ID — The Olympic

Sun 7/29 — La Pine, OR — Newberry Music & Arts Festival

Fri 8/3 — Darrington, WA — Summer Meltdown Festival

Sat 8/4 — Vancouver, BC — Festival of Light

Wed 8/8 — Arcata, CA — Humboldt Brews

Thu 8/9 — Santa Cruz, CA — Moe’s Alley

Fri 8/10 — San Francisco, CA — Boom Boom Room

Sat 8/11 — Belden, CA — For The Funk Of It

Sun 8/12 — Redding, CA — The Dip

Sat 8/18 — Cumberland, BC — Cumberland Wild

Tue 8/28 — Sandpoint, ID — Live After 5 Concert Series

Wed 8/29 — Coeur d’Alene, ID — Live After 5 Concert Series

Thu 9/13 — Halifax, NS — The Seahorse Tavern

Fri 9/14 — Fredericton, NB — Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival

Sat 9/15 — Burlington, VT — Nectar’s

Tue 9/18 — Brooklyn, NY — Brooklyn Bowl

Wed 9/19 — Buffalo, NY — Buffalo Iron Works

Thu 9/20 — Toronto, ON — Lee’s Place

Fri 9/21 — Hamilton, ON — Casbah

Fri 9/28 — Kelowna, BC — Sapphire

Sat 9/29 — Fairmont Hot Springs, BC — Wicked Woods Festival