Hey OK Fantastic rocks with a 'funky groove'

Hey OK Fantastic is, from left, Charlie Murphy, Sam Harding, Alex Minard and Ian Daniels.

Photo by Webb Sanderson

Hey OK Fantastic is, from left, Charlie Murphy, Sam Harding, Alex Minard and Ian Daniels.

Hey OK Fantastic is, from left, Charlie Murphy, Sam Harding, Alex Minard and Ian Daniels.

Photo by Webb Sanderson

Hey OK Fantastic is, from left, Charlie Murphy, Sam Harding, Alex Minard and Ian Daniels.

Hey OK Fantastic

  • Also on the bill: The Gentleman Conspiracy
  • When: 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 11
  • Where: Preservation Pub
  • Admission: $3

— Inspiration flows freely to Alex Minard, front man for Hey OK Fantastic. Writing songs for this act as well as contributing to Wolfman and the Go-Go Girls, the Mandolin Bros and Platapii, it's a good thing he writes five songs a week.

It's also fortunate that the fledgling Hey OK Fantastic, on the verge of its debut release, has announced that it will commence work on a sophomore recording almost immediately following the inaugural release.

Hey OK Fantastic occupies a unique niche in the Knoxville scene. The band lists itself as a mixture of rock, soul and funk, as do many local groups, but what this band encompasses goes far beyond these genres. Minard's vocals are reminiscent of a grittier David Byrne, and appropriately the band instrumentally sounds like a shotgun wedding between Talking Heads and Sixteen Horsepower. The members of Hey OK Fantastic have a wide range of influences and diverse musical backgrounds.

While living in New Jersey, Minard played in a hip-hop act. Drummer Charlie Murphy has performed most notably with blues and jam bands, while bassist Ian Daniels is best known for work with rock and electronica. Sam Harding acts as the band's wild card, playing eclectic instruments including accordion, mandolin, banjo and keys.

"The music we play is fun and danceable," describes Minard. "We blend influences of '60s rock, funky soul, hard rock and Motown. We are influenced by The Beatles, Sam Cooke, Ween, The Doors, I guess anything Scott Shannon spins on the True Oldies Channel. Ian and I set out to create a rock band, something that just rocked, and now we are doing that, but it rocks with a solid funky groove.

"The energy of the songs just keeps increasing with every new one. We all listen to a lot of different varieties of music, and we all have different influences. I think the newer stuff rocks a little more than the older songs, and at the same time they are a bit more funky. They have a good attitude to them. We make music that we ourselves would enjoy listening to, and I think some of the new songs that will be on the second album are extremely fun to listen to as well as play."

On April 26, Hey OK Fantastic released its first single "Tale of the Turning Tide." The song will be featured on the band's coming full-length release, but the single includes two B-sides that will not be on the album. The group is putting the finishing touches on its self-titled debut, which is tentatively expected to be made available in July.

"We don't want to set a date until we are 100 percent sure that this is what we would want in an album if we were buying one ourselves," says Minard. "It's a really diverse recording and one that I am extremely proud to put my name on. We have been working on it at Songwriters Recording Studio right here in Knoxville. The owner William (Garrett) has been co-producing it with us as well as recording it for us. He really understands what we are trying to accomplish with this album and has an ear for the sound we are going for. We are currently mastering and mixing tracks, and there are still a few that need some vocals, so I'd say we are about 75 percent finished with the recording. We really don't want to rush this."

Upon entering the studio Hey OK Fantastic had to whittle its catalog of more than 30 songs down to 10. Not willing to waste so many quality tracks, the group has opted to record a companion follow-up after the debut's completion.

"We plan on recording the first and second back-to-back," Minard explains. "This has been a first-time experience for Ian and Sam to work in a professional studio, so I think for the next one everyone knows what to expect, and I think we'll go in with a better idea of what to do and when. We write songs constantly. With this band I can write a song, bring it to practice and by the next show we are playing it in the set."

Hey OK Fantastic looks to return to old form, playing four to five shows a month following its recording commitments. For now the act is set to perform Tuesday evening at Preservation Pub. Joining them on the bill will be The Gentleman Conspiracy. The show is scheduled for 10 p.m., and admission is $3.

n Sonic boom: The Boombutywah Music and Arts Festival kicks off with a show at The Square Room on Saturday night. The kickoff party will include performances by Big Country's Empty Bottle, GaNaSiTa, TruMind and Grandpa's Stash. Doors open at 8 p.m.

n Stickin' it to the man: On Saturday night Stickman plays Manhattan's in the Old City. The show is slated for 9 p.m.

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