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Roger Is Here To Save Your Fonkless Ass - Todd E Jones interviews Roger, the new funk spacemen.

Roger is here to save your funkless ass! Roger is not just a man. Roger is an entity. Roger is a mystery. Roger is the brand new funk band that is blending glam rock and deep, booty shaking funk. Their songs consist of long, spaced out guitar solos, thick rhythms, sexy female background singers, and stadium sized hooks. While Roger, is a collective of many people, the main leaders are Astley Le Jasper (on Fuzzbass and lead vocals) along with Randy Apostle (on lead guitar and vocals too). Another member, J. Edgar Hoova (who plays guitar and sings too) has been corrupted by the dark side and is starting his own band, J. Edgar Hoova & The Body Removers. Other members of Roger include The General, The Docktor, Leonard Matrix, Jesse Delicious, Sindy-X, Shona Apostle and many others. Randy Apostle actually grew up in Philadelphia as part of a racially mixed family. As a band, Roger even performed on army bases. Eventually, through Julian Cope (the funky Drude), Roger encountered the opportunity they deserved. Their debut album, "This Is The Sh*t" was released on Julian Cope's Head Heritage label. Since there are little to no pictures of the members of Roger, some actually speculate that Julian Cope is Roger or a member of the band. While Cope did help with the CD booklet and release the LP on his label, Roger is an entity in itself and Saint Julian is not in the band. 9 songs deep, '€œThis Is The Sh*t'€ is an epic debut album. More than 10 minutes long, the song '€œRamm It Home'€ features Montecore, the white tiger of Seigfried and Roy. (Yeah, right'€¦.) Other incredible tracks include '€œHot Fudge'€, '€œRoger Loves U'€, '€œFonk Hammer'€, '€œFonk Wars'€, and the '€œOverture'€. The band uses the influences of the past to create something new, innovative, and futuristic. On a hot summer day in 2004, I had the rare chance to talk to both Astley Le Jasper and Randy Apostle of Roger. They have enlightened me with the '€œfonk'€ and I shall spread the '€œfonk'€ like a prostitute spreads diseases. Aliens and time travel are now apart of our lives. Enter a new dimension. Join the Roger-lution since it will not be televised. Be proud to be a freak! You should thank Roger. Thank Roger for saving your fonkless ass!

T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€
ASTLEY LE JASPER: '€œWhat goes on is, and what goes off isn'€™t, although if I were to choose one, I'€™d definitely say I was on. Mmmmmm!'€

T.JONES: '€œThe brand new debut album by Roger is called '€˜This Is The Shit'€™. Tell us about it.'€
ASTLEY: '€œIt'€™s the kind of thing that has been lacking in music recently, unashamed pure fonk n'€™ roll opera of the highest order. Badass beats, guitar solos so sharp you'€™ll cut ya face on '€˜em, and fuzz bass so fat it could feed an overweight family of five for two years, BRING THE DRUMMS!'€

T.JONES: '€œHow long did it take to make?'€
ASTLEY: '€œ4 Days, this is the gods honest truth.
RANDY APOSTLE: '€œHmm. It felt longer. Maybe six. Some people were crying to go home after the third day because the craziness was too much, but there'€™s no escape once the fonk takes hold.'€
ASTLEY: '€œYou have to understand that there are other forces at work here that the Unhumanoids cannot comprehend and neither would I expect them too. This is why we are here, as a fonk filter for all the beautiful freaks out there. Todd, are you a freak? Tell us more of this poetry!'€

T.JONES: '€œIs there a deeper meaning to the title besides the obvious?'€
ASTLEY: '€œI suppose '€˜the shit'€™ could be interpreted in many different ways, but to me '€˜the shit'€™, and by shit I mean good shit, not bad shit, as it'€™s very important to make the distinction between different types of shit. Where was I? Oh yeah, '€˜the shit'€™ to me means the fonk fertilizer, so we'€™re laying down the shit so that the fonk might grow and spread like some badass plant. WHAT!'€
RANDY: '€œFonky vegetation to feed the nation.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite song on '€˜This Is The Sh*t'€™?'€
ASTLEY: '€œThey are all badass, but if there were two tunes that summed up what the Roger band is all about then I guess they would have to be '€˜Fonk Wars'€™ and '€˜Roger Loves U'€™, crazy fonk opera and badass disco sex music, with Fuzz Bass, Ah BANG BANG!
RANDY: '€œYeah, I agree '€“ '€œFonk Wars'€™ is the total package, although there are some badass jams that got left off. You might have noticed we'€™re always referring to other jams that aren'€™t on the album, like '€œThis Is Serious'€ at the end of '€œRamm It Home'€. Now THAT is serious!'€
ASTLEY: '€œSerious.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song took the longest to do?'€
ASTLEY: '€œWe allow ourselves fifteen minutes for each track, from conception to completion and if it isn'€™t finished by then, it gets erased. You know!'€
RANDY: '€œOnce again, the Roger time space continuum comes into play. Is that 15 earth minutes or 15 Uranus minutes? '€˜Fonk Wars'€™ took the longest. Have you got any idea how long it takes to organize recording napalm strikes in the UK during, umm'€¦ '€˜peacetime'€™?'€

T.JONES: '€œThere are lyrics for '€˜Don'€™t F*ck With Roger'€™ in the booklet but the song is not on the album. Why? What'€™s the story behind it?'€
RANDY: '€œWell, that'€™s a J Edgar jam. People new to the Kingdom Of Roger might not be aware of some of the history, so here goes; J Edgar is the dark nemesis of Roger; he'€™s our brother gone bad, hates the fonk and likes only to rock. He kidnapped the master tapes and made us play this horrible little tour, the '€˜Wherever J Edgar Wants to Play, J Edgar Plays Tour'€™ during which, a number of shows were recorded. He spliced it into to the original master but Copey took it off, as he is as Machiavellian as J Edgar, fortunately usually in your favor.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did Roger come together to form a group?'€
ASTLEY: '€œIn the year 3000 near a far off star, some aliens had a party in a nasty little bar. Well, we met at that party and without even knowing it, the band was formed. I woke up 2,050 years later with a headache, and the first I knew of '€˜This Is The Shit'€™ was when I got a phone call to say it had gone double platinum, I think.'€
RANDY: '€œWhat? Where are my royalties?!'€

T.JONES: '€œWho is Roger?'€
ASTLEY: '€œRoger is the cosmos. He sees all around.'€

T.JONES: '€œI read that you were playing army bases. Is that true? Why? What was that like?'€
ROGER: '€œThe kids in the forces like to tie bandanas to their heads and love to rock and to fonk. Not all postmen are evil, either, you know.'€

T.JONES: '€œYour album was released on Julian Cope'€™s Head Heritage label. How did you hook up with Julian Cope and what was he like?'€
ASTLEY: I could tell you, but Julian would have to kill you.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat happened to J. Edgar Hoova? Is he still in Roger?'€
RANDY: '€œThere'€™s always room at the inn for J Edgar, no-one is all bad. He shows up at most Roger shows as everyone knows!'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite kind of guitar?'€
ASTLEY: '€œAs the Roger band, we indorse flying V guitars and basses but goddamn I make just about any bass sound fonky! If I had to pick one other, then it would have to be my Fender Jazz 69 re-issue. Go Roger!'€
RANDY: '€œThe Flying V and also the Parker Fly, which I play live.'€

T.JONES: '€œWill there be another Roger LP? If so, what sound are you going for? What will it be called? Will it be on the same label?'€
ASTLEY: '€œMost of the next album is recorded and let me tell you it'€™ll blow your goddamn mind. We needed to take it to the next level and it'€™ll be future fonk of the highest order, like Hendrix, Larry Graham, Outkast & Darth Vader f*ckin'€™ on the bonnet of an X Wing Fighter, be afraid.'€
RANDY: '€œIt will destroy all in its path, and if people like this album, they'€™ll love the next. Don'€™t know where or when it'€™s coming out, yet. It'€™s like a nasty dog looking for a home.'€
ASTLEY: '€œWhich is on the new album!'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat other artists / bands inspired you?'€
ASTLEY: '€œThere is rich history of fonk which is a constant inspiration, so too many to mention, anything that moves my heart, head and feet. Or feet, head & heart.'€
RANDY: '€œAnd not just the fonk. You gotta have all the flavors to make the sauce!'€

T.JONES: '€œWhy funk? What was it about funk that took control and made you lose control?'€
ASTLEY: '€œFonk is the universal, singular celebration of the drum, a primeval stew guaranteed to appeal to the basic human instincts of dancing, chanting, and making the beast with two backs. I deny anyone not to get high to the sound of Clyde Stubblefield & Bootsy when they'€™re in the pocket.'€

T.JONES: '€œAstley, tell us about your history. What led you to this point?'€
ASTLEY: '€œI was bought up in an unfonky little town in the lost southern counties and my childhood was like that of any other kid unfortunate enough to be blessed with red hair. My school days were perhaps the unfonkiest time in my life, but you know the saying, what doesn'€™t kill you only makes you fonkier. It was the usual thing of escaping the place you were brought up in by playing your ass off. The turning point came when I bought the James Brown '€˜In a Jungle Groove'€™ LP. The single defining moment, which made me see the fonky light, was the breakdown in '€˜Give It Up, Turn It Loose'€™ when Clyde'€™s playing what I consider to be the baddest break ever, and James calls in Bootsy. I jumped five feet in the air at that point. Since then, I'€™ve been constantly striving to reach that level of perfection. Then, I fell in love with the Fuzz Bass and then with Randy Apostle (musically speaking of course). It took us a while to find each other but the creativity he inspires in me cannot be taken for granted. Something truly mystical happens when we get together.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite drugs?'€
ASTLEY: '€œPalm Grease.'€
RANDY: '€œAPI 550EQ.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat has been in your CD player or on your turntable these days?'€
ASTLEY: '€œSharon Jones & The Dap Kings '€˜Dap Dippin'€™. The album is badass but go and see that band live, they can tear it up!'€
RANDY: '€œThis week, the new Hives, Sly & The Family Stone'€™s '€˜Fresh'€™, the new Beastie Boys album and Funkadelic'€™s '€˜Standing On The Verge'€™ which is permanently on the turntable, either playing or being used as a slipmat so I can play it as quickly as possible after I finish playing whatever I'€™m playing. Oh, and Rose Royce 2 - Norman Whitfield and Sparks '€˜Kimono My House'€™. Mmmm!'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere did you meet your sexy female musicians in the group?'€
ASTLEY: '€œEver since we saw Sheila E playing badass double bass drums with Prince wearing high heels it was obviously the way forward. What you need to do is go to your local Laundromat and politely ask the hottest lady in there if she is a conga player / flautist / DJ and odds are she will be. Repeat until band looks and feels right and the fonk quotient is no longer MC Squared!'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the creative process like for a typical Roger song?'€
ASTLEY: '€œThe general rule is beats, bass, melody, guitar/fuzz bass, gang vocals. Then just when you think it'€™s finished, ramp it up a notch and sprinkle on some craziness. We write a lot of stuff over the phone by shouting, ranting and abusing each other in a '€˜stream of consciousness'€™ type way. If you ain'€™t worn out by the end of the conversation, then you haven'€™t been working properly!'€

T.JONES: '€œAre the lyrics and the vocal melodies written first or is the music written first?'€
ASTLEY: '€œWhatever comes first, don'€™t fight it, feel it.'€
RANDY: '€œIt'€™s like The General'€™s secret recipe.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat kind of guitar is the one flying around on the cover? What is it about that guitar that you like? Is it symbolic of something?'€
ASTLEY: '€œIt'€™s a Gibson Flying V! It is perhaps one of the ultimate cool 50'€™s American designs. It is part guitar and part spaceship, originally designed for'€¦ country western players. It'€™s obvious inbuilt symbolism and refusal to conform is transcended by the fact it will now be claimed for future fonkateers, once I get Gibson to put a single coil pickup in the front position on my signature model.

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East?'€
ASTLEY: '€œI love America, but George W. needs a goddamn spanking. An arrogant, unworthy man who thinks he has the right to police the world without sticking to the fundamental Christian values of love, peace and understanding that he so ignorantly thinks he'€™s promoting. You cannot condone what Saddam Hussein did to his people, but war is war and you cannot justify the murdering of foreign civilians or your own people for your own interests and without just reason. For every action there'€™s a reaction, and his failure to realize that he'€™s creating and fueling a circle of fear and hatred of the country he says he loves baffles me.'€
RANDY: '€œPolitics are not fonky, but are important to keep your spare eyeball on, so you know from which direction the f*ckers are going to try to f*ck you.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you on September 11th, the terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected music?'€
RANDY: '€œAt first, you thought it was an accident, then the reality set in as the second plane went down. Obviously, no normal person, be they Muslim, Christian or Fonkapalian wants to see that kind of atrocity done in the name of anything, so instantly felt deep, deep sadness for the people involved, then a creeping fear about what would happen in the world next '€“ that being more of the same violence and also the US reaction, which we'€™ve seen as an excuse for yet more wrongness. On a selfish level, the only plus point is that since now the war on terror is official. We probably won'€™t get blown up by the IRA in London when we are Christmas shopping for bad beats this year as it'€™s not so cool for Norad to fund them anymore. I can'€™t get too drawn into this, as we obviously have a view on how there'€™s a need for the good sh*t lollipop to hit the fan for a change. Music will always probably try to get across the right message, or maybe the idealistic one. We'€™re all about saving the Unhumanoids. We can'€™t possibly do it, or can we? Roger'€™s gonna try!'€

T.JONES: '€œAbortion. Pro-life or pro-choice?'€
ASTLEY: '€œPro-Choice, life'€™s hard and you have to respect everyone'€™s individual rights and beliefs. Freaks make the world go round.'€
RANDY: '€œI'€™ve already had my Bono moment.'€

T.JONES: '€œDeath penalty. For or against?'€
ASTLEY: '€œAgainst, an eye for an eye never got anyone anywhere.'€
RANDY: '€œYou Bono.'€
ASTLEY: '€œF*ck You!'€
RANDY: '€œShut up or I'€™ll stab you in the eye!'€

T.JONES: '€œRandy, what was Philly like?'€
RANDY: '€œEveryone was called Bono. No, it was educational. It was the place I first realized that there was a Black Jesus, found out about soul food and why it existed, heard a lot of good music I never would have, went to a 70'€™s block party in the 70'€™s, realized that most TV is total crap, realized people could hate me when I'€™d never done anything to them, realized that a lot of people never get the chance in life they deserve and are haunted by ghosts, found out drug dealers existed, and that my stepdad'€™s brothers & sisters were beautiful, accepting and didn'€™t give a sh*t.'€

T.JONES: '€œRandy, can you tell us about this garden?'€
RANDY: '€œThe garden was most unlike the sacred garden of fonk. It was bereft of lakes, greenery, or bits that make you frustratingly have to go back to the start of the maze. An almost forbidden square of dead grass, a solitary grapevine, the domain of alley cats with the house fending off nature through a solitary, dusty screen door.'€

T.JONES: '€œRandy, what was it like growing up in a racially mixed family?'€
RANDY: '€œIt was good, and sometimes hard. I had to deal with the whole white people being prejudiced idiots, black people spitting on me doing the same, fighting everyone and being the zebra boy thing, but there were also many, many good things that made me who I am which are not immediately obvious to people looking at my white boy face.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the last incident of racism you encountered?'€
RANDY: '€œThe scariest was a visit to the deep south where I found out that the Klan still existed and were still up to evil sh*t. Thankfully, we don'€™t have massive problems here in the UK. We do have some. For instance, the whole terror thing has caused tension with the Muslim community in some areas, but people are getting smarter every generation and are generally throwing that kind of sh*t out. People need to travel, meet people, experience different cultures before they can have an opinion other than what they are taught.'€
ASTLEY: '€œAre you after my Bono badge? I'€™m telling J Edgar!'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the biggest mistake you have made in your career?'€
RANDY: '€œTemporarily losing faith in Rock & Roll.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the biggest misconception about you?'€
ASTLEY: '€œThat we'€™re really the Archdrude.'€
RANDY: '€œThat we'€™re capable of being the subject of misconception.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your live show like?'€
RANDY: '€œCome see us. Of course, you'€™ll have to convince someone to let us do a US tour, and we'€™ll be eternally grateful!'€

T.JONES: '€œHow had your live show evolved?'€
ASTLEY: '€œFirst, there was the Fonk Wars. Then, there was the Rogership. Then, there was Roger'€™s Ark, and then, it all got a bit too crazy with the tiger mauling business. It'€™s back to just being good all round family fun for families of a different kind. Oh, but the J Edgar section ain'€™t too right.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite part of your live show?'€
ASTLEY: '€œThe part where The General throws J Edgar off my stage!'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. I am going to say the name of a group, artist, or famous person and you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say '€˜John Lennon'€™ or '€˜Let It Be'€™. Ok?'€

T.JONES: '€œJulian Cope'€
RANDY: '€œKnows full well that '€˜This Is The Sh*t'€™ is the once and future July 2004 album of the month, and at the end of the day, is a genuine genius and amazing dude.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Clinton.'€
ASTLEY: '€œThe Original.'€
RANDY: '€œWithout whom this program would not have been possible.'€

T.JONES: '€œJamiroqaui.'€
RANDY: '€œProbably has quite high car insurance.'€
ASTLEY: '€œMonkey.'€

T.JONES: '€œGil-Scott Heron.'€
ASTLEY: '€œInspirational.'€
RANDY: '€œYes, the Rogerlution will not be televised!'€

T.JONES: '€œJay-Z.'€
ASTLEY: '€œ99 problems!'€
RANDY: '€œAnd we'€™d gladly take the other one off his hands.'€

T.JONES: '€œEcho & The Bunnymen.'€
ASTLEY: '€œBoing!'€

T.JONES: '€œEminem.'€
RANDY: '€œTake out the brown ones or Dave ain'€™t playing'€™.'€
ASTLEY: '€œThe Poet.'€
RANDY: '€œEh ? Oh yeah, he'€™s good at the game.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
ASTLEY: '€œFools What?'€
RANDY: '€œExactly! John Squire has a lot to answer for.'€

T.JONES: '€œHappy Mondays.'€
RANDY: '€œShaun Ryder is one lyrical genius.'€
ASTLEY: '€œStormy Thursdays!'€

T.JONES: '€œPublic Enemy.'€
RANDY: '€œThe leaders.'€
ASTLEY: '€œYeah, Boy! Bring the f*ckin'€™ noise!'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Rolling Stones.'€
ASTLEY: '€œC*cks out!'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Beatles.'€
ASTLEY: '€œC*cks In!'€
RANDY: '€œI am getting seriously worried about you!'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
ASTLEY: '€œSatan.'€
RANDY: '€œWill lose the election. Again.'€

T.JONES: '€œAre you a fan of Julian Cope'€™s music? What is your favorite song? Favorite album?'€
ASTLEY: '€œHanging Out & Hung Up On The Line.'€
RANDY: '€œThat one'€™s badass. I'€™m a latecomer. I love Brain Donor, and the Rome LP, where Julian wrote some great songs, and the event was amazing. 'Shrine Of The Black Youth'. That'€™s the sh*t.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is next for Roger and the members of Roger?'€
ASTLEY: '€œTo take it to the next level creatively and take it to the people. Let'€™s start the dance.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat releases should we look out for? Remixes? New albums?'€
ASTLEY: '€œThe next album '€˜Backing Off Is For The Other Band'€™ will be beamed in from the cosmos sometime soon and we have a whole heap of stuff in the vaults which we want to put out.'€
RANDY: '€œSo there'€™s the most amazing album of the year, plus some rarities making up the second most amazing album of the year, and of course, the J Edgar thing! Oh, and send us your shit. We'€™ll remix it!'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you want on your epitaph (your gravestone)?'€
ASTLEY: '€œHe came, he saw, he brought the bad boy bass.'€
RANDY: '€œI'€™m not dying. I'€™m just going back to space.'€

T.JONES: '€œAny final words for the people who will be reading this?'€
RANDY: '€œThanks. We'€™re going to live up to your expectations. Buy the albums. Vote Kerry. Bake a stranger a f*ckin'€™ cake, but don'€™t cut their lawn.'€

Thanks ROGER!!

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