The second interview in our Gettin’ Chilly With It series features one of the biggest funk bands out of New Orleans, Galactic, who will be headlining the Catskill Chill Music Festival this year at Camp Minglewood in Hancock, NY from September 6-8th. We sat down and spoke with founding member and guitarist Jeff Raines to discuss the history of Galactic, their music, and the upcoming Catskill Chill festival.
Jeff, thanks for speaking with us today about your musical career with Galactic as well as the Catskill Chill Music Festival.
Q1: Where did you grow up and what was your first musical experience?
All over the place really. The first time I remember playing music, I bought one of those old air organs from my neighbor at a garage sale. I brought it up to my room and started playing it.
Q2: How did Galactic come to be and what was the meaning behind the name?
We had a band called Galactic Prophylactic. Me and Robert (bassist) grew up together in D.C. and moved to New Orleans for college. We didn’t really play seriously in high school though. When we go to college, we became more serious. We started playing shows our sophomore year, and we kept the name. We went to San Francisco to record an album. We tried coming up with a different name for a couple weeks, but couldn’t come up with anything. So in the end, they just put Galactic on it. And that’s kind of how the band came to be called Galactic.
Q3: How does the New Orleans music scene influence Galactic as a band? Who are some of your musical influences?
As a band, we originally modeled ourselves after The Meters. We added a saxophone to the scene which was really the only difference as far as instrumentation went. But, The Meters were definitely an influence and inspiration during our early years. That would definitely be the band we modeled our early stuff off of.
Q4: What distinguishes the funk you create as a band from other funk bands?
Well, we’ve been touring for about 17 years now. You know, we play A LOT! We really have developed our own unique approach and sound. We’ve definitely put in a lot of time, and hopefully we have something very unique going on. We definitely have a lot of influence from New Orleans, with the drum stuff, as far as getting a feel for a lot of the music down there.
Q5: This year is Galactic’s first time performing at the Catskill Chill Festival. Have any of you ever attended the festival in prior years?
No, no we haven’t. I was actually just reading about it. I’ve never been to the site I don’t think, but we are definitely looking forward to it though. It’s going to be a good time and is always an honor to share the stage with some of these bands.
Q6: I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph your performance this past Friday at the Brooklyn Bowl with Maggie Koerner and David Shaw of The Revivalists. How did you first connect with them and when did you decide to bring them along on the Brooklyn Bowl run?
When we were making our last record, we sort of had a pile of instrumental tracks, and we were giving them out to lyricists we knew. David Shaw, you know, we were hanging out. We gave him a tune and he came up with “Hey Na Na” as a song. I guess it was the single on our last record. The two of them track easily. We have been doing some shows with David and Maggie out of our studio quite a bit as well as other projects. So when we were looking at doing four nights, we wanted to look at doing some different stuff and focus on different people. Four night is veryrare, in fact, I don’t think we ever do four nights in a row. So we wanted to make it as special as possible.
Q7: When writing a set, how does the band go about it?
Well, generally we will look at what we played the last time were were in a town. You know, we try not to repeat ourselves. We play a lot of festivals throughout the year. That’s definitely the first part of it. The second part is trying to make a set where the tempos change and there is a dynamic sort of element as well.
Q8: Earlier this year you performed at Red Rocks Amphitheater with Railroad Earth and Greensky Bluegrass. Can you describe the feeling when you walked on stage that night?
We’ve played Red Rocks seven or eight times now, we figured out which is kind of strange. This time was definitely the most comfortable we’ve ever been up there. It is definitely strange and somewhat daunting to be looking at those giant rock, but I think we really broke through this time and felt comfortable in that beautiful venue.
Q9: How did you cross paths with the Dave Matthews Band and what did you take away from performing this year at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in New York this year?
We’ve done a couple runs with Dave over the years, opening up for them at various shows. I think we actually went out for a couple weeks with them at one point. It’s always impressive to see what he has been able to build and maintain over all these years. Also, our management company at that point was the same as his, so it worked out well.
Q10: How would you describe yourselves to someone who hasn’t listened to Galactic before?
We think of ourselves as a New Orleans funk band really.
Q11: What is your favorite venue that you have performed at in the past and why is that place so special to you?
Our home would be Tipitina’s in New Orleans. I think we’ve definitely had our best shows and been most comfortable there. It’s kind of like our living room in a way. It’s our home base and definitely my favorite venue to play.
Q12: If you had to explain to someone why they should attend your set at the Chill in just a few words, what would you say?
We will deliver a pretty kick ass festival set. We’ve been doing this for a long time. There will be some high energy. Corey Glover (of Living Colour) will be there. You know, it should be a good time.
Jeff, thanks for speaking with us today. We look forward to seeing you perform a raging set at the Catskill Chill next weekend!
No problem, thank you! We’ll see you there!
See more photos from Galactic at the Brooklyn Bowl here. Photos by Greg Horowitz of CSMPromo.
Fans can catch Galactic Saturday 9/7 from 8:00-9:55 on the main stage at the Catskill Chill Music Festival. Tickets and more information can be found at www.catskillchill.com.