Although their name may invoke snickers from many who hear it, instrumental outfit Bonerama makes serious music that will inspire any music lover to get up and dance.
Composed of four trombones, one sousaphone, one guitar and drums, this band is unique amongst its contemporaries. Yet, their history is decidedly simple. In 1998 Mark Mullins and Craig Klein, then members of the Henry Connick Jr. band, formed this New Orleans brass and funk infused-rock band as a side project to make use of their downtime. But, as of 2006, the two decided to leave the Henry Connick Jr. band permanently to continue their success with Bonerama.
Recently, The Badger Herald spoke with one of Bonerama’s trombonists, Craig Klein, who described the band in more solid terms.
“[Bonerama] has the New Orleans influence of brass bands, which are part of the fabric and culture of the city,” Klein explained. “We also expand the musical styles of classical, rock, funk, and meter.”
But much of the band’s sound is a product of the unique musical styles of the individual members of Bonerama. Steve Suter, a classically trained trombonist, adds a new style, which Klein said “helps push the band into different and more exciting sound.” Mark Mullins, on the other hand, plays his horn through a guitar amplifier, which causes it to sound like guitar riffs from Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. According to Klein, this implementation of technology with instrumentation allows for continued diversity in Bonerama’s music.
“We are able to bring in a lot of different influences as far as music is concerned.”
But the band has also sought assistance from fellow musicians to support their unique band concept. For Bonerama’s first gig, they called up a few of their trombonist friends but actually ended up with 15 other trombonists on stage.
“It was a sound to be reckoned with,” Klein said. “We were really sort of amazed that people actually showed up to hear what we were presenting our first night. And when they started dancing to what we were doing, we thought we found something that we could latch on to.”
Bonerama was soon able to build up a fan base, and Klein and Mullins decided to take the band out on the road.
“We went to New York and Los Angeles, and once we started gaining more interest, that’s when we wondered why we haven’t done this a long time ago.”
As the band’s success continues to grow, so has the achievement of their albums. Their newest live release, 2007’s Bringing It Home, is one of their three live-recorded albums. But just because the band has released several live albums doesn’t mean the sound of their songs is the same with every play.
“The music we play takes a different shape every night, so it’s not the same show every night. Live shows are the best way to experience music from a band you really enjoy. That’s one thing that is very nice for us. And plus, for people to come out to dance and get down to the music we play is a lot of fun.”
To hear more of Bonerama, they have recently released a studio-recorded album, You’re Not Alone, available exclusively on iTunes with the band OK Go. This five-track EP contributes with another New Orleans music expert, Al Johnson. Proceeds from the purchase will go to helping others who are still working to rebuild their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Bonerama will be playing at Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. tonight.