Last weekend I got my brain drained to this up and coming, bound for fame funk musician. The most accurate way I know how to describe what I heard is if Elton John, Prince, & Daft Punk all had a baby and birthed forth the music of Henry Invisible. If you have not heard of the “One Man Funk Band” from Austin, TX, it is a must see experience and these photos do not do it justice.
Later that week, I had the fortunate circumstance to have a personal video interview with Henry Invisible. I transcribed the audio to written word so all the readers could have the opportunity to enjoy Henry’s amazing story-telling style of speaking that he portrays in our conversation. Let’s bounce!
Talk about your journey to NY & the bands you got in while there? (This question was inspired by Henry's Dad.) "I was in a couple of bands. Originally I moved up there because I was in a touring band that toured pretty incessantly for about 7 years. That was in TX and I was living in Austin at the time. It was a funk unit called The Gingerbread Men and we played all over the country. What happened was is that we kind of got cross-ways with the management, so I moved on to NY in order to kind of finish up my contract and just kind of take a hiatus from the whole thing. While I was up there, I went to study jazz and I wound up meeting a bunch of players up there. I was playing bass in a band called Head Quarters, I was playing guitar in a band called Lotus 33, and I was getting a lot of recruiting gigs and recording gigs. I was doing some hip-hop recordings there in this studio where it was like me doing some guitar playing, bass playing, and sampling; that kind of thing. I started my own rock trio called Star Child and that must be what my dad was talking about. It was quite different from what I am doing now. It was very fuzzy rock and roll, closest to Jimi Hendrix sound because it was a trio and the drummer was a monster. We actually have a record on Spotify and it's just a self titled EP. I didn't do much more with that project, but I did bring it back to TX for a while, but then members got split up." Where did you study Jazz in NY? "So I was taking some classes at The New School, but I also took some lessons from Mike Stern (who played with Miles Davis). I studied with Mark Whitfield up there, he is another jazz cat aesthetic and Howard Bollock. I was just kind of moving around and studying with everybody and anybody I could." How long had you been playing before being signed on to Bootsy Collins' label? "Yes. It's called Bootzilla Records and the official signing hasn't happened yet. We're about to do all the logistics of it because he is releasing his album on the 23rd of October and then pretty much immediately afterwards I will start releasing music through his label. I have been doing this project for at least a strong decade now. To me funk is this kind of, I mean it's getting to be a little bit more popular these days, but it's one of those genres that has been underplayed for a very long time when in my opinion it's one of the American musics that is synonymous with jazz or blues or rock and roll. It's its own category and quite often it kind of gets shuffled in the mix with blue or soul funk or something. There are certain characteristics that make it very unique." Talk about the transition between Henry + the Invisibles to Henry Invisible. "It was basically Henry + the Invisibles and I used a plus sign. When I first started off, I thought it was clever and fun. I haven't put anything out under Henry Invisible. There is a video Jam in the Van put out there. I did it to go ahead and claim name so nobody else would take it. Henry + the Invisibles was to me a lot of fun, but here's where I started kinda making the decision. It was really tricky for a lot of people expecting a band in a lot of situations. That was funny when they would realize it, but the marquee guy (had a hard time) putting up all those letters. Also, there was never a plus sign. When I was talking with the Bootsy Collins team about releasing music under their label as Henry Invisible, I said, 'This is the time to do it if I am going to do it now.' All of my social media is Henry Invisible. This would be the time to do it because I am going to be releasing a lot of music very soon. That's kinda what happened. I own both ya know. It's kind of like James Brown & the Famous Flames turned to James Brown or Prince & the Revolutions turned to Prince. Some of the best and worst things in life are invisible. Emotions, for example and part of the thing about me coming up is that I never really got a lot of assistance from local media and it was almost as if I were invisible. So I kind of did a play on the name because as we're coming up and things are getting bigger." Have you always worked with your father? What is that like? "I have always worked with my father, yeah, because for the Gingerbread days, he was our manager when we first got rolling because we were a bunch of kids, bunch of unruly kids. I was playing around in bars at the age of 14, so Pops had to be there. There was definitely a time when he wasn't there. We switched over to management and then like I said, Gingerbread was all over the road all over the US. He didn't tour with us, but was at every show he could possibly be at. When I moved to NY, he wasn't there for that. When I did move back to TX in 2006, he started really helping out with some lighting. He has always been a really awesome light designer, so he would show up as the LD and he would get that going for us. When we got into some merch, he started doing merch & lights. When that band broke up we just kind of kept that going. Now I couldn't be happier because it's amazing to answer your question to be able to work with my father in that capacity. We've always been super close and we have a lot of fun on the road. Some of these road trips are 16 hours long and we just have a lot of fun. We make jokes and tell stories and then we also strategize a lot, we think a lot about the project. He's really involved with the growth of this project and his help, love and support is immeasurable." Where do you go to get your best inspiration? "Nowadays I spend quite a bit right here in this studio. I'm sitting in the middle of a bunch of instruments. There's a bass & guitar here, there's percussion and drum kits over there, and the drum machine is there. I sit in here and I write quite a bit. Recently I have been doing my television show called The Love Stream and we're on episode #86. So that means 86 new songs since the beginning of the quarantine starting in March. At first it was kind of a songwriting exercise because nobody knew how long we would be here, but basically as of late, it's turned into this other thing. I think my sound has actually cultivated. It's come a long way since the beginning of March. Before this, to find inspiration I'd go check out music if I could if we're not on the road. I'm always into watching some good film or checking out a good book. Quite often I actually will come up with some ideas. I'll throw something down, then I'll press record and I'll take a shower or something. Then I'll think of lyrics, then come back and then it comes together. As far as song writing goes for me, my whole trick or bit of advice I would say is that I don't really stop any sort of thought. Like if it happens it happens. If it comes out it might not be the final product, but it certainly is better than having no idea at all. I'm kinda just rollin' with it ya know? I don't experience or have not; I feel blessed about it; but have not experienced writer's block." How has the looper changed how music is made or played concerning the funk genre? "I think funk at it's core and the chemistry of funk in my opinion is very loop oriented, somewhat like reggae music or ska. It's got a sort of loop basis. Funk has always been kind of my thing. Even when I studied jazz and played rock and everything, funk has always been my favorite, favorite music. If you listen to some old James Brown, you'll realize the song is very looped. So I decided to kind of break it up. I will say that when I first started, the loops were a lot more simple because I was kind of getting into the whole concert thing and now it's evolved into full songwriting where there will be parts and different breaks and that kind of thing as a real live band would do. That part was a lot of challenge at the beginning, but it was a great challenge because I really wanted to make it a very unique experience for the listeners. I didn't want to just bore you with it. Jimi (Hendrix) messed with the tape loop. There are some recordings out there. I think the software and I think the machines; I think everything has come a long ways. There is a really interesting quote from Jim Morrison who talks about the future of music. He's talking about how he sees one person with a bunch of tape machines and being able to perform live one person. I think that it's very foretelling of where we're at today. Don't get me wrong, I love big bands. I love bands that are jammin' with full on musicianship. I love playing with other musicians, I really do. It's just for me, this project: Henry Invisible is all about this. It's all about the 'One Man Funk Band'. It's what I do. I try to push the envelope as much as possible."
When I asked Henry if he had ever received any harsh criticisms or experienced the public disliking his music due to his use of loopers, he said,
“In this life you just got to do you. You’re always going to have people that love you and you’re always going to have people that hate you for whatever the reason is. It’s beyond my capacity to try to figure out what I need to do to make everybody happy. I think the music makes me happy and it makes a lot of people happy. I think that’s important & I focus on the positivity.”
Henry Invisible is a very down to earth person and I can’t wait to see what more music he has in store. To be honest, I have never really listened to much funk or explored what funk music really is. After listening to Henry Invisible, it made me want to delve into the creative, psychedelic world of funk.
Don’t let an opportunity pass you by to experience the brain drain of higher consciousness in your life.
Video Links in Instagram: 10/3/20 @ Prairie Street Live- Henry Invisible https://www.instagram.com/p/CF94HhKByP1/