Photo by Evan E. Duran

Funky Love Is All You Need

Peeling back the years, it’s almost preordained that the members of Joy and Madness have united in each other’s good company. A gaggle of motley neighborhood misfits, they’ve chain linked themselves as one to stand for something tried-and-true in the vast sea of the music business. Their CD release party is set in stone for Nov. 19, 2015, at the Crest Theatre, where they’ll be opening for Ozomatli. In the meantime, they’re taking their brand of feel-good funk and soul to the boulevards to promote their new EP with candor and style.

The band recorded their recent offering, Little Bright World at Oakland’s 25th Street Recording Studio. “The façade out front of the studio was this innocuous British car repair service,” says lead singer Hans Eberbach. “You walk inside, and it looks like this boutique hotel—then you’re greeted by the front staff. It was that next level of professionalism for us. We also got a chance to hit the streets, have some chicken and waffles and go hang out at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon!”

Notwithstanding a vigorous three-day-session in Oaktown, the gang recorded several other parts of the album here in Sacramento as well, and even some other international locales. In particular, Eberbach traveled through Europe to lay down many of his final vocal tracks.

“I brought a suitcase of gear and set up in a couple of hotel rooms in Paris and Berlin,” he recalls. “All I needed was my little Shure SM7B microphone, my laptop and an audio interface. I wound up singing in some small closets—hanging up more of my clothes to muffle the sound … But, I was looking at the Eiffel Tower from our window while singing ‘How Do U Feel.’”

Eberbach was first noticed 20 years ago in the group Sweet Vine, which afforded him everything from a big recording contract, to an opportunity to record at the famous Bearsville Studios in upstate New York—a studio founded by Albert Grossman (manager of everyone from Bob Dylan to Janis Joplin). That, in essence, is what made Joy and Madness’ recent labor of love so special for him.

“This record is so indicative of the times,” claims Eberbach. “It doesn’t all have to be done in a thousand-dollar-a-day studio anymore. I was part of that ‘90s group of bands who got signed to major labels—and we were gonna be the next big thing. But, today, there are studio people who can help you create your sound; then you go home and knock out the rest on your own. And if it’s badass, it’s badass … Now everyone in the world can listen to it.”

Their EP offers original, soulful material that relates to the human disposition. For instance, the song “Gotta Slow Down” features hometown rapper Rasar (now residing in Las Vegas), and was inspired by a conversation he had with the band’s keyboardist, Jeremy Springer. The context reflected the “pace of the world today,” and is an overall comment on shallowness within our society as a whole.

“We’re all people that come from a place of ‘walking a mile in someone else’s shoes,’” admits Eberbach. “It’s about stepping back for a little bit … and getting some perspective about life.”

Felicitously, another track from their album has had a profound effect on audiences in no time flat. “A Love” is turning into a certifiable hit. Bobby G, the group’s renowned guitarist (who’s worked with greats from Prince to Lionel Richie), and Eberbach have frequently collaborated on electronic music in their spare time together, using groovy loops they create from software like Ableton Live. When they brought their home-recording of the tune to the band, as a new concept, they collectively said: “This has to be on the record!”

Eberbach exclaims, “The song actually came together a few weeks before going into the studio. We decided to start it on the chorus, and when we play it live, by the second time around … people are already trying to mouth the words like they’ve heard them their whole lives. Sometimes, they think it’s a cover song, which is pretty awesome for us.”

The band is a cool, calm and collected eight-piece (with a popping horn section), including a diverse ensemble of experienced musicians. Keyboardist Springer and bassist Miss Nyxi are, in fact, bound in holy matrimony—and they don’t ever bicker during band practice. Nyxi is also a school teacher on the Southside of the city, and manages to balance her weekly rehearsal schedule with shaping the youths of tomorrow.

“It’s crazy to be where we’re at, and to have made it happen our own way,” says Eberbach. “This band is really, more than anything else, blessed beyond the music. We may butt heads, but we’re nothing less than respectful with each other. There’s no centering on ourselves and what we think we need. When it came down to the songwriting credits, it was so easy for us. No one was scratching each other’s eyes out over that extra half percent.”

The upcoming CD Release at the Crest is being thoroughly promoted by SBL (Scott Brill-Lehn) Entertainment, and is a platform for the group to showcase their new EP as a genuine leap forward. Joy and Madness has paid their dues, and, without a doubt, is looking forward to giving the great Ozomatli a run for their money.

The group’s motto for the show is: “If it doesn’t sell out, we’re not going to play!” Eberbach expounds, “We want to die on that stage, and leave it all right there. We’re all killer and no filler, ya know. Each of us needs to feel an impact while performing, and to provide joy for others.”

In lieu of performing, the funky crew has taken to presenting a series of promotional music videos/spontaneous street parties in order to market themselves up until the release date. With the freshly gained momentum of their hit “A Love,” they have plans to shoot a fully conceptualized video for the tune on K Street—possibly with a lovelorn theme that includes another local frontman, Ideateam’s Garrett Wildgust.

“For starters, we’ll be at Pizza Rock soon—buying some pizza and beer for everyone. Then, we’re gonna go rock out ‘A Love’ in front of the Crest Theatre, and shoot a video of it,” excites Eberbach. “We’re also going to give away a couple free tickets to the Nov. 19 show, plus a free copy of the new EP Little Bright World, a T-shirt, and a concert poster. We plan on doing a few more rounds of promotion like this before the gig, too.”

Joy and Madness have a provable track record of super-duper funkiness, but furthermore, they’re jam-packed with an unbeatably sanguine attitude. Their bright mindset keeps on shining through to illuminate their musical, and personal, progression as a band. And, any posse willing to buy fans libations and fodder—just to hang out and watch them film a music video—are obviously humanitarians to no end.

“The album is a really good mix of who we are,” says Eberbach. “We’re at that point in our lives where it’s about being in service to the music, and there are never any egos involved—that’s an amazing place to be. If you move people, they don’t care how old you are and what you look like. We’re always looking for those ‘come together’ kind of moments.”

C’mon people, now, show Joy and Madness some love when they celebrate the release of their new EP live at the Crest Theatre on Nov. 19, 2015. As an added bonus, the band will be opening for the amazing Ozomatli. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased through