Considering how we’re in the middle of a twerking renaissance, with pro-twerking advocates like Miley Cyrus making it cool for girls to pop their glutes on dance floors and in Vine videos all over this great land, of course, you’d expect a band with a name like Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band to capitalize on that.
The group has been known to include booty-shaking gals in their repertoire, so twerking isn’t new to these cats (whenever they play around their Asheville home base, longtime female fans have occasionally jumped onstage and move their posteriors in approval).
“I feel like the twerking has been around for a really long time, actually, and I feel like people are just kind of getting hip to the term now,” says drummer and Laurinburg native Lee Allen, calling from Asheville. “People have been writing songs and doing dances that have to do with the booty-shaking, and they’ve been doing it for a long time.”
For a band that plays anywhere from 150 to 180 shows a year, doing gigs in 49 of the 50 states (they gotta crack Hawaii at some point!), Yo Mama has seen booty work from coast to coast. “I think it’s just, maybe not so much focused on the derriere but about it just being a good time, you know.”
So, where did it all begin for the Booty Band? In Boone, of all places, with bassist Al Al Ingram and guitarist J.P. Miller getting to know each other at an open mic night, circa 2002. Eventually, they rounded up other musicians – Allen, keyboardist Mary Frances and trombonist Derrick Johnson – and started performing as a band.
The group has a reputation for getting funky at a moment’s notice, and funk has always been a key element of their act. Judging from the playful, party-hearty funk compositions and even the cartoonish artwork on their album covers, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic is a major influence.
“They influenced us from the start,” Allen says. “I feel like that’s a band that we kinda look to for inspiration, individually and philosophically and musically.”
Actually, Yo Mama’s is a group with a pot full of influences. Ingram is a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan. Miller grew up listening to rock. Even Allen, who briefly played in a metal band, works in his love for rock and soul.
“I feel like our influences have been all across the board,” he says. “But, primarily, with that funk involved, the funk and groove have been aspects of all that stuff, like, from the beginning. So, I feel like what we write is not necessarily a conscious effort to write, ‘OK, we’re gonna write funk tunes and be a funk band.’ I think we just write the music that we love, and it comes out as funk.
“I think funk is such an open-ended category that it’s hard to put, like, a line or a box around what exactly funk is,” he says. “But, to us, it’s all about does it make you wanna move? Does it make you wanna bob your head? Does it make you feel good? And I feel like the stuff that we write sticks in that order, you know.”
As always, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band is out there touring, performing and promoting their latest album, “Onward!” (they’ll be making a stop this Saturday at the Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh), playing music that’s guaranteed to have many rumps shaking.
“I think that everybody is always fascinated with the butt,” says Allen, “and I feel like that’s what really makes our name something that’s timeless. I don’t feel like it’s gonna come in and out with the wave of twerking.”