Band of the Week Q&A: Dick Long of Opposite Box explains belligerent jungle funk

Band of the Week Q&A: Dick Long of Opposite Box explains belligerent jungle funk

Photo courtesy of Amy Kenyon

On the cover of Opposite Box’s most recent live album is a cat's face with its mouth wide open, wearing an eye patch and shooting colorful lightning out of its eye and into the band’s logo. This image exemplifies Opposite Box’s psychedelic sound which they call “Belligerent Jungle Funk.” We caught up with the band’s guitarist, Dick Long, ahead of their show at Green Bar tomorrow night.

How long has Opposite Box been playing together?

The bass player, Ryan Crabtree, has been with us for a year. The drummer, Ryan Guza, has been playing with us for five years now. The keyboard player, Ryan Long, is actually my brother, so we’ve been playing together since we were about fifteen. I’d say this band, as far as touring and everything has been going for about 15 years.

Are there any covers you guys like to play?

Yeah, we’ve been doing “Cosmik Debris” by Frank Zappa and that’s a really fun one. We’ve also been doing “Frankenstein” by Ezra Leonard and that one is sort of becoming one that a lot of people are doing especially in the jam-band scene, but we really like to get heavy and psychedelic with that one. Then “Soul Sacrifice” by Santana. Those are like the three that we like to go to as far as full covers. Something we really enjoy doing are these sort of half covers where we’ll be playing one of our songs and then we’ll go into a cover and then go back to our’s. Basically, we just play the good parts of those songs.

Is there an original song that you particularly like to play at shows?

Yeah, but it kind of changes each night. We don’t have 500 songs like The Grateful Dead to choose from, so a few nights in a row, we’ll kind of repeat some songs. A song that I personally always like to play is called “Birds on a Fence.” It starts off kind of middle-eastern sounding, and then it goes into this funky groove and it’s about this girl going to a festival for the first time and getting into the amenities that come with that.

What are the influences that go into the style, “Belligerent Jungle Funk?”

In layman’s terms, it's really just rock, funk and jazz. We’ll be listening to the Metallica album “...And Justice For All” and then we’ll take that out of the CD player and put in “Chickeria.” The thing that always kinda got me was when you ask someone “Hey what does your band sound like?” and every single time they’ll say “I don’t know it is really hard to describe.” I always hated that. For us, it is really just the kitchen sink approach. We’re into old school punk and jazz and all kind of stuff. We want to play all that stuff. We don’t want to sound like a punk band playing jazz or a jazz band playing metal.

Do the on-stage characters stay the same from show to show?

It really just depends. It isn’t a kind of things where we all have fictional back stories and stuff like that. It is more of just a Halloween everyday kind of thing. Like if anyone wants to wear a costume for a show, they do. Really anything goes.

In what ways do you try to make the audience part of the show?

We definitely support crowd-surfing. We definitely want people to trade sweat with us. We’ll take drums out to the crowd and do a crowd drum solo or something. It really just depends on the gig. If it is something more formal, we’ll just keep the energy on stage, but if we’re at a dirty rock and roll bar, you’re gonna get a dirty rock and roll show.

What’s something about touring that y’all particularly enjoy?

Man, it’s just fun. It just feels right. I know it sounds kind of cliche to say that, but I’ve done everything from manual labor to managing a pharmacy and I just hated everything, but when it comes to actually playing music, it just feels right. Even the business aspects of it where you’re dealing with ticket sales, money and trying to fund tours, it all just feels normal.

What can the audience expect from the show tomorrow?

Realistically, we just try to play every show to where we can make the audience say that they’re having a good time. There are times where you might come into the show with some stressful personal problems, and we just want everyone to check it at the door and have a good time. Whether it is a party of two or 250.

Dick Long and the rest of Opposite Box will bring their Belligerent Jungle Funk to Green Bar tomorrow night. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and available at www.greenbarttown.com. 

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