A self-described “prog-funk” band, Earphunk has spent the past five years building a loyal fan base that’s catapulted them into consideration as one of the top jam acts in the Southeast. Hailing from New Orleans, the quintet blends improvisational instrumentation with a combination of jazz, soul, blues and rock and a dynamic stage production.
The result? High-energy shows that keep ’em coming back.
Comprising Christian Galle (keys), Mark Hempe (guitar/vocals), Michael Comeaux (bass), Michael Matthews (drums) and Paul Provosty (guitar), Earphunk got its start back in 2009 when the guys were college students at Louisiana State University.
Galle explains, “They started playing house parties and the college bar that two of the guys worked for. Paul and I have known each other since fifth grade, and I was invited to join on keys shortly after. All of us are from New Orleans, and have all kind of had the same mutual friends going way back. It’s been good in helping us get along on the road and face challenges.”
From festivals like Wakarusa and Bear Creek to hundreds of shows each year, Earphunk spends plenty of time racking up miles as they traverse America. They’ve shared the stage with all manner of musicians, from Lettuce and Toubab Krewe to 311 to Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk.
“We’ve played in 37 states and we just announced we’re playing for the first time at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest, which is a huge milestone for us,” says Galle. “If you had told any of us five years ago what the future would hold, we wouldn’t have believed it.”
Born and bred in the Crescent City, the members of Earphunk get much of their sound from home as well as a foundation in music from the ’60s and ’70s and staying current with modern instrumental music.
“The presence of funky and soulful music is undeniable in and around New Orleans,” Galle says. “Our first endeavor in getting together and playing music focused on that funk-groove theme. Whether it was emulating New Orleans legends like The Meters and Dr. John, or similar music from outside of New Orleans, the sound of the city is definitely what got us going.”
The band’s third studio album, Sweet Nasty, which dropped last August, was recorded at Studio in the Country, an old-school, rural Louisiana recording studio 70 miles northeast of the Big Easy. Galle calls it Earphunk’s “most refined studio effort.”
“We really took our time throughout the whole process to make sure that everything had the quality and integrity we intended,” he explains. “That intention has been affirmed through kind words and recognition from our fans, friends, family and peers. We’ve really appreciated everyone who helped us put it together and everyone who complements it.”
In a bold move, Earphunk chose to release Sweet Nasty at no charge through BitTorrent Bundle, an online distribution platform where fans can download or listen to the album for free. It’s paid off.
“We weren’t quite sure how it would turn out, but we’re elated that we did it that way. The record was downloaded almost 600,000 times,” says Galle. “The team at BitTorrent was great throughout the process, especially when it came to marketing the bundle and getting it in front of millions of eyes.”
With a stop locally at Freebird Live on Jan. 27, and a February-through-March tour with electronic-rock band Zoogma lined up, Earphunk has a busy start to the New Year. These guys live for the road, though — even if they get worn out from time to time and would rather Netflix it on the couch with a pizza.
“Being on the road can be extremely exhausting,” says Galle, “but no matter how tired or pooped I seem to get, it always goes away once I’m on stage in front of a crowd.”