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First Look Friday: Spank Interview

Photo of Spank taken by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.

Music snobs from Brooklyn to Bangladesh know of the amazing talents of this week’s First Look Friday subject. A world renowned drummer, a Ropeadope records franchise player and a true North Philadelphia native — George “Spank” McCurdy has been a quiet force amongst titans such as Sean “Diddy CombsJill ScottKanye WestQ-TipQueen Latifah and others for the past 20 years.

Spank’s musical abilities were nurtured and harnessed from an early age. As with most phenoms, George’s talents were God divine from his days watching the choir director at his church. He would funnel his passion for gospeldelic sounds into the inviting arms of Tye Tribbett, who would work with Spank on the song “No Way” from his Life album. His skills behind the drums are respected by those in the game like Chris “Daddy” Dave and Anderson .Paak.

With his most recent effort, Circa LXXXI, out in the world and available for earholes worldwide, this Olney Original branches out into his own alongside his bandmates Aliyah Niambi (electro vocalist) and Larry Lambert II (bass). As we were fortunate enough to sit down with one of the live musicians of the day, George “Spank” McCurdy broke down his career to us, how he juggles real life with life on the road and shares with us a taste of his emotions on the cut, “Love Sample,” which you can hear for yourself below. Enjoy!

Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?

Spank: Live music is making a definite comeback, most of the legendary hits that we listen to regularly were recorded by live musicians. So, right now the music scene is shifting. It’s in a transitional stage where eventually we’re going to get back to that stage where we’re either the ones making the beats for producers or we’re just the ones that are holding down the radio. Live music is taking back the radio, that’s what’s happening. Artists and people within the music movement can see it now but the world, they’ll see it in a second.

OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?

S: Some of my most cherished influences are Lil’ John Roberts, of course, my big brother. Brian Fraiser-Moore, Questlove Thompson, J Dilla, Chris “Daddy” Dave and my peers of course.

OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?

S: Well ever since I’ve been working with different artists and touring (for about 20 years now), my dad would always ask me when I was starting my own thing or my own band and I never gave it much thought. Then as the years went by, you know I had that urge to do so. So, once I did it the response was really good. It was my first taste as an artist. It’s kind of mind blowing ’cos you, you kind of realize just how much respect you have or just how many fans you have out there and that’s always humbling. It’s like, ‘Wow OK, cool.’ People want me in Malaysia, people want me in Singapore and I’m like, ‘Cool let’s go, let’s go.’ It makes you nervous, you know, I’m just starting out, but it’s very, very exciting and flattering.

OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe — how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?

S: Music is therapy. There are different moods and there are different music to each type of mood. You know when you’re sad — you play music, when you’re happy — you play music, when you’re excited — you play music, when you’re determined — you play music, you know?! When you’re depressed — you play music. So right now, there’s a stronger voice than ever in the political world and through the sound. The sound is what gathers the people, the sound is what gets the ears. And once you have the ears, it’s the lyrics. So our sound and the way we rock out will always get your ear, but the lyrics, you know, that’s what separates everything else when it comes to the political side of things. So we, meaning myself and my band, definitely have a lot of strong views, points and values that we’re definitely going to get across in our music.

My music is definitely going to help the trauma because it’s hopeful. Music is full of hope. I want people to throw my music on and not only learn a little more about politics but also feel more determined to make a difference and make a change. Instead of just talking about all the problems, if we offer change or offer some other types of change, maybe someone will listen to a song and say, “You know what, I like that I’m going to try that out.”

OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?

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