Few bands — OK, no bands — bring quite the mix of music, costumes, antics and persona to the stage the way Here Come the Mummies does.
First, there's obviously the band's chosen attire. Every member of the group, which plays Buster's Billiards & Backroom on Friday, is dressed head to toe as their namesakes: corpses of ancient Egypt and of yearly Halloween costume popularity.
But don't let the dingy, gauzy wraps fool you. These guys aren't entertaining crowds by busting out Monster Mash. Instead, the band lives and dies by the funk.
Since 2000, Here Come the Mummies has specialized in airtight horn playing and irresistible grooves — complete with sexually charged lyrics and references to ancient Egypt — that will take you back to when Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind and Fire were taking hypnotic control of listeners' hips. During its decade-plus run, the band has built a following that packs clubs with fans wanting to party with these undead dynamos.
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What you see and hear is pretty straightforward, but why a group like Here Come the Mummies exists is anybody's guess. The band members all take on appropriate monikers — for instance, there's guitarist/vocalist Mummy Cass, Ramses on bass and a sax player simply known as The Flu — and maintain a Sacha Baron Cohen-esque commitment to staying in character. Many have speculated that these disguises are used to hide the identities of Nashville session players who are under contract with recording companies (some of the band members are rumored to have played on Grammy-winning recordings).
Whatever the circumstances, everyone in Here Come the Mummies is determined to keep things shrouded in mystery.
In an email interview with percussionist/vocalist Java Mummy, this reporter certainly didn't crack any codes. Instead, the answers we received were their own source of entertainment.
Question: Why did you decide to call the band Here Come the Mummies? Didn't want to jump on the vampire, werewolf or zombie bandwagons in pop culture today?
Answer: Baby, we were a band long before Transylvania was pumping out bloodsuckers. You would not think that a bunch of decaying, smelly old dudes could compete with high-fashion Twilight-ers, but our music packs a hard blow below the belt, and the ladies swarm.
Q: How does a band like this come together?
A: We were a nomadic tribe of musicians cameling our way through the dunes, when an overprotective pharaoh daddy had a curse placed upon us. The result has been positive: He is long dead, and we are still chasing daughters in the undead.
Q: You guys specialize in funk and R&B. What is it about that type of music that connected with all the players in Here Come the Mummies?
A: One thing motivates this band: ladies. We want them to dance, writhe and sweat. Our music makes them do that in earnest.
Q: Tell me about your first-ever show. There must have been some interesting reactions.
A: Mostly boos and tomatoes, but they came around quickly. They still do.
Q: You guys now have thousands of fans on Twitter and Facebook. How would you describe your typical fan?
A: A super-sexy woman with a Ph.D and a penchant for exhibitionism ... without a strong sense of smell.
Q: What do you think people appreciate about this band?
A: We are simply a good time. We play happy music, and our energy and humor is infectious.
Q: You guys are based in Nashville. How has the Music City treated you?
A: Nashville is a tough town, but we have a strong following here. We are quite lucky. Now, if we could just get a decent mini-golf course and more Egyptian restaurants, this would be home.
Q: You guys seem to have found a home as regular guests on The Bob & Tom Show. Why is that show such a great outlet for your music?
A: I think Bob & Tom and (Here Come the Mummies) are kindred spirits. We share a sense of naughty humor, not to mention a love of tight horn sections and moustaches.
Q: How has the band's music evolved over the past decade from Terrifying Funk From Beyond the Grave to Bed, Bath & Behind?
A: I am not sure we have changed much. The first record was made on a lark, and come to think of it, so was the latest.
Q: With songs titles like Bed, Bath & Behind, Libido Knievel and Horizontal Mambo, do I even have to guess what you're biggest inspiration is when it comes to your lyrics?
A: No guessing required. We are a single-entendre band. All our lyrics are about one thing.
Q: What can audiences come to expect at a Here Come the Mummies concert? What would you ideally want them to experience?
A: Expect to see nine mummies thumping out a constant stream of funky goodness. They will not believe that such eerie-looking dudes can produce such smile-inducing and catchy tunes.