RGM Introducing – We Interview american band Duke Charelle
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
Thank you very much for having us. I have brew in hand haha.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I have always had a creative drive. I was a visual artist and had also been playing music. It was when I heard RATM, that I took a much longer look at being an artist. I began to write more during high school, while being an athlete, and I got good responses, so I kept at it, and joined with the musicians I am performing with now.
Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?
I am Duke Charelle. I sing, write play guitar, and various other instruments. My principal instrument is the guitar. Uncle on bass here is Greg “G-rock” Sanders. The other two guitarists are Rodney Todd and Duminie Deporres. OG on the drums and vocals is Dean Ragland (yes he does them at the same time), and the femme fatale is Bad Karma. She does vocals as well. I started as a classical clarinet player, and singer in choir, and moved to bass before guitar. I was performing most of my life and have played music for 30 years. I have won and/or played in local solo battles, performed with Funkadelic musicians, and currently am signed to Sony Records with legendary engineer and producer Mark S. Berry as the label head. I was also a part of the NME Online music awards years ago and have won quite a few awards. Dean Ragland is straight from P-Funk, and has played with George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and Prince. G-Rock has performed with Sheila E, P-Funk Outlawz, Chaka Khan, and more. Rodney Todd is a well-known blues guitarist who has traveled all through North America. Bad Karma is a powerful female vocalist, who has performed independently all over the underground scene. Duminie Deporres is a well-known guitarist who has performed with Public Enemy, George Clinton, and various other acts. Joel Joseph, who is not in the picture, is keys and he is most well-known for his work with Nelly Furtado.
Hows does a band from flint find out about what we do here at RGM?
Your magazine followed my Twitter! Lol, at the time I was finishing my project and I noticed it, so I looked and here I am! With the advent of being blessed enough to be in NME Online for live performances, I try to look for more in the European area. I tend to enjoy European music more anyways. You guys have Guthrie Govan after all, and I tend to study a lot of the virtuosos. G-Rock also keeps his ears on the European Music scene, and he works with many musicians and producers there, especially in the UK Grime scene.
Ahhh that’s good to know, Hows is the water in flint now?
Now, my headquarters is in Detroit. Flint is getting back on their feet, but a lot of my family left that area due to the lead. It still has parts without clean water. (The scary fact is most of the US has lead pipes, so Flint is just the beginning).
What useless party trick /talent do you have/?
I can play guitar behind my head. Uncle has great impressions (you should hear his Gomez Addams impression).
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
We played a festival in New Jersey. They were singing all the words to a song, and the atmosphere was so cool. The audience even jammed with us at the sound check with their hand percussion. Mad cool, mad chill vibes in the middle of the woods. We were playing with the P-Funk Outlawz because we all play in each other’s projects, and it seemed like we were going to some clan meeting that we shouldn’t be at lol. Ah, it was sick though.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Two times. The first was a female vocalist I was trying out, before Dean brought Bad Karma. I had to fire her. She was wasted, and always tried to act like we were dating. I was sleeping with a dentist at the time, and she was what I would call a wastoid. It was unsetting to say in the least. She could not really focus, and we were playing at a wedding in a warehouse, with a bunch of festival heads who seemed to be a part of the Grateful Dead festival family. Frustrating. The second was at a venue called The Old Miami. This drunk guy came up and played my guitar and turned up the volume. I was making sure the event was in order, but Dean and uncle G-Rock told me what the dude was doing. Eventually, he tried to touch Dean’s drums. Dean and I both got in this dude’s face. He just wouldn’t listen (I feel bad for this dude’s wife. After he tried to grab G-Rock by the crouch, he grabbed some dude’s wife’s chest. The husband tried to hit the dude, but security stopped him). It was a great show, but some audience members don’t have self-control, and look to exploit moments to favor themselves. Not what I would call a mark of a cool person.
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?
I think mentioning that every player here (except Joel), has played with P-Funk in some way or another. Greg and Dean have great stories, but you will have to ask them at a gig to get the full details….some are not quite PG to say in the least, and they would give better details in person. G-Rock and Rodney definitely have the wildest stories by far.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
No. Most people don’t even like the person that lives across the street from them. Makes it hard to believe in them.
If you had to describe your band to an alien how would you describe them?
Intergalactic space travel meets smooth silk with mad scientists running every experiment you do.
Which one of the band is the most unpredictable and why?
G-Rock. He comes up with the most random lines that add just depth and dimension all the time on the spot. You tend to live like your playing. And he does. Random humor and jokes all the time, and often with the best timing. Although you never know….Duminie has been known to pull random things off from time to time.
Which one of the band is the biggest nightmare? (Just a bit of fun)
I mean aren’t we all…. monsters in a way? Lol. Duke Charelle can be a monster, but we hardly see him in that state. We’ve heard stories.
What’s your biggest achievement as a band?
I think it is the original sound. If you really listen, there are ways that we all accent something, or the way we arrange a track, that no one is doing. I think crafting all our own styles into an original voice is always the paramount achievement. Anything else sort of pales in comparison.
What makes you stand out as a band?
Everyone is at the top of their game. The live show is where it’s at. Everyone is getting compliments. Compliments on the shredding of guitar solos, or how strong Bad Karma is at singing, or how Dean holds down a drum beat. We present a lot of virtuosity, and it is presented in such a way that many people say they can’t help but feel how we play and feel the music. We also add a spontaneous element to events that I think many people will appreciate it.
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
There is a thought process? Hahaha. It all depends. There is no strict formula. For Duke, he writes the lyrics and chord progression. Then drums or bass are added next. Then Duke, Duminie, or both will add lead guitars and solos (they both play leads and solos). Then vocals are added. Finally, keyboards are added last. Duke will go through and pick the best takes, put on final touches (sometimes add production elements, but the present wave today seems to be people not like the extra production elements, as made clear by Slaughterhouse by Enimen. Sometimes overproduction turns people off because it does not sound raw). Sometimes, we will ask each other for parts. Duke did that with “Epilogue”, our first new single. Duke already had the lyrics, but he asked G-Rock to make a track to go along with it. When just do whatever we like.
What was the recording process like?
It’s funny, but our process was easy going. No one is told what to play, we just play, and what you hear is what was made on the spot, except the skeleton of the song. The rhythm guitars are always first. Then the other parts are added in. For us, the Miles Davis approach works best, in that we don’t tell each other what to play, and don’t get in the way of each other. This approach is rooted in a humility stance. We are all great players who are just out to make good music. There really is no need to step on each other’s toes. If Duke likes Duminie’s part better, he puts it in. If Duke thinks Bad Karma would be better on a song, he asks her to sing. Everyone plays off each other. Duke like a lead part Duminie did for a song so much, he said leave his part through the whole song. Other songs, their solos are complementary of each other, which is funny, because they both improvised their parts and did not work them out beforehand, and they matched perfectly. Dean may jump on a xylophone randomly, and Duke hears it and says, “leave that on the song”, before adding in some random ass theremin. It’s organic and random and has a basic plan which enables absolute freedom.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single/album?
Trying not to rush. If it starts off sounding good, what can you do to make it better? How do we not add too much to it?
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
No. It came out totally original, and the label loves it and so do we. We even get surprised by the final result of our work because it becomes so much more than what we expected it to be.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
We are booking. Always looking for gigs, and we are trying to aim to come perform in the UK. We will also start working on new material soon, and already started the process of getting new material together and creating new work. We all also produce, so you may hear some production of other projects as well.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
You can find our material on all major platforms, and online jukeboxes. Our first single “Epilogue” from our next body of work is out now. Get some goodness in your ears. Duke is also planning on doing a bit more on this magazine outlet, and soon so keep your ears open. We will have radio airplay coming soon in the UK, on some independent stations within the next three weeks. Also, as a random sidenote…. why do people like feet so much? I mean, you have Toejam, and then you gotta call Earl in…and the smell of walking on them all day…. just seems to be complicated. What’s Earl gonna do man? Why feet? Tell me! Man got me so confused on that, I’m gonna take my shoes off and say “Agony of Defeet”.
Thanks for doing us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.
Most definitely. Thank you for providing us with your time today. We love the vibe, and will be coming back in. Next time, I bring some more brews to the interview.