The Buffalo born band, Funktional Flow, is set to play the Griffis Sculpture Park Summer Festival on Saturday, August 21 in Ashford Hollow, NY.
The band is made up of five guys: Jeff Kuebler (guitar & vocals; who I talked to in the following interview), Ben Whelan (bass), Jim Edgar (drums), Joey Lewis (guitar & vocals), and Matthew Lester (keys, sax & vocals). A multi-genre band, they have been previously voted “Best Band” in the Best of Buffalo series by Artvoice and its readers.
I had the pleasure of talking with Kuebler by phone about the band, the music and a couple of the Summer Music Festivals on their tour schedule that has some of the most beautiful backdrops as their stage.
Since its inception in 2010 with three original members, the band has added two more very talented guys to the mix that singer and guitarist Jeff Kuebler says, “makes up the most accurate depiction of who they are musically.”
Their top musical influences include Umphreys McGee, Moe, Sublime and Blind Melon, according to Kuebler, and works well with their “melting pot” sound.
A fan favorite, Funktional Flow has found their lane and look to the future not by setting goals, but by knowing what it’s all about for each member of the band.
“We know we would like to be full-time musicians, but we don’t like to put a bench mark on things,” said Kuebler. “If you don’t get to that point, you might find yourself disappointed. We don’t make music to be disappointed, we make music because we love it and we work as hard as we can and hope for the best."
For more on Funktional Flow including their latest album, tour schedule and other news, visit www.funktionalflow.com.
A CONVERSATION WITH JEFF KUEBLER
HULICK: How long have you guys been a band?
KUEBLER: It was six years in May (2016). Two of the guys, Joey Lewis and Matt Lester, have been with us a little over a year and a half. Ben Whelan, myself and Jim Edgar are the core three that were the original members for the six years, and then April of last year we brought in Joey and Matt.
HULICK: How many albums have you released?
KUEBLER: We’ve released three albums. The most recent release, “Time Will Tell”, came out in March (2016), and we consider it to be our finest album yet, because we have Joey and Matt on it and it shows the most accurate depiction of what we can do.
HULICK: Tell me a little bit of the style of your music. You guys don’t really fit in just one particular genre.
KUEBLER: It’s a bit of a melting pot really, heavily rooted in reggae, rock & roll and funk. The five of us all have our musical influences and bring something very important to the table, and I think we all do a good job of incorporating all of it into our sound. So along with the styles I just mentioned, we also have some progressive rock, some techno and bluegrass. We kind of just throw all those genres in a blender and whip it up and serve it up as Funktional Flow.
HULICK: It’s good in this day and age, as opposed to decades ago, when artists pretty much were committed to one specific genre. Today people of all ages like all kinds of music, so that must work really well for you guys.
KUEBLER: It really does. It’s funny you mentioned that because the one thing we really pride ourselves on is that anyone from every age bracket and gender seem to enjoy our music … there’s something in there for everybody.
HULICK: You recently were the opening act for Rusted Root at the Ellicottville Summer Music Fest.
KUEBLER: That was fantastic! Ellicottville has always been so good to us; we usually close the night at Balloons during Oktoberfest … but this was a big one because everyone in the band is fans of Rusted Root. So we were pretty excited to get that nod to open for them, number one … and number two, to have it be at Holiday Valley was absolutely just stunning! The stage was incredible, all the people that worked there were incredible and so accommodating, as were the people that were running the festival … they took great care of us. We were really grateful to get that opening act slot and we’re extremely grateful for all the nods we get in Ellicottville. We always have such a great time there and they keep us in mind for the bigger events they have there and we truly, truly appreciate that. You can’t get any better than opening for one of your favorite bands surrounded by some top notch scenery.
HULICK: And staying on the subject of scenery, you will be playing the Griffis Sculpture Park Summer Festival on August 21.
KUEBLER: Yes! We are very excited about that. It’s our first time there and I hear it is really beautiful there as well.
HULICK: I read that when you were a kid you actually started out playing the drums.
KUEBLER: Yes. Actually my father was a drummer. I played drums for a long time. I was a full time drummer until I was 17-18 years old. What had happened was we moved into an apartment …
HULICK: (laughs) Oh, boy …
KUEBLER: (laughs) So you can’t really play the drums in that environment, so to adapt to my new surroundings I picked up the guitar, thinking … this will never work but I’ll try it anyhow, and a decade later here we are!
HULICK: Do you like playing guitar over the drums, or can’t they be compared to each other?
KUEBLER: It’s tough to compare them, but I probably would say the guitar more because all the ideas for songs you have floating around in your head and want to portray musically is a lot easier to do on the guitar, as opposed to the drums. (laughs)
HULICK: (laughs) That’s true. Do you guys write your own music?
KUEBLER: Yes, we do. We are predominately an original band, but we will throw covers in to keep people interested. But we try to be careful of the covers we pick, because we don’t want to do songs that have been beaten to death.
HULICK: What’s the status of all of you? Married, single, kids …
KUEBLER: My wife and I just had a son in January, so I’m the “elder statesman” of the group; Joey and Ben have long time girlfriends, and the other two guys, Jim and Matt, are living the single life, being free.
HULICK: Watch it … don’t say living the “free” life in front of your wife. (laughs)
KUEBLER: (laughs) Good point … no she knows what I mean. (laughs)
HULICK: My friend and I were watching some type of music special the other night and I commented how I could not survive one day without music, to which she agreed. Music is all healing and something we need, especially these days with all the craziness and violence in the world. You can escape all of that when you listen to music.
KUEBLER: We agree with that 110%! We acquaint music to breathing … if you don’t have it you’re not living. A good example of that escape is you can take somebody that’s had a bad day, or someone that’s in a tough spot, and they come and watch us for two or three hours … you can actually watch all of that go away for that increment of time … for that time frame, when we’re all together and everybody’s there for the music and everything is working right at that moment … then everything seems right in the world. There’s no political talk, no craziness … it’s just that perfect moment sharing something so healing … so right. And if you can find a lyric, or a song, that you can relate to when you are having a tough time … that is one of the greatest therapeutic tools you can ever use.