I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Dayton-based band Bohemian Funk. The band features Rocko Dalian on vocals/guitar, Patrick Arnold on guitar, Casey Beasley on bass and Graham Werts on drums. They define themselves as socially unacceptable in an artistic way, making something out of nothing. After our conversation, I can’t think of a better description.
CincyMusic: You have some dedicated fans that clearly bring you energy when you take the stage. Do you feel that energy from them and how does it affect your performance?
Rocko: We play like there's 100,000 people no matter what. But I'm not gonna lie, when there's more people and they're screaming our lyrics, it’s the highest high you can ever get. They literally feed us our energy. And we put it into our guitar amps and our microphones and we feed it back to them. It's just throwing it back and forth constantly, just playing vibe catch. It's why we do this. It’s something you dream about, really. When you’re a kid you’re hoping that, one day, somebody will be screaming your lyrics back at you. And when it actually happens, it's kind of an overwhelming feeling, like flying.
CincyMusic: Let’s talk a bit about your new album. Do you have a release date for it?
Rocko: It’s literally right there. It’s on the cusp… but you know, life happens…
CincyMusic: So you’re looking at the beginning of 2023?
Rocko: I think it would be cool to release our first album on the first of the year because that’s the same timeframe as when we released our first song. But, as Graham said, life happens sometimes and you can’t really gain control of it. Especially when you’re working with someone like Jeff (Jeffery Thomas), he’s just a master producer. He’s got a list and it’s very honorable to be a part of that list.
We’re excited because it’s been building up for a long time. Personally, I think it’s lost a little momentum because it’s taken so long, but I’m hoping that, by releasing this, it just shoots us back up to where we want to be and have people listening to our music. We want to relate to people. We want people to listen to our music and just understand that we’re just normal guys who just love to play music together. We do this for the fun of it. We do this because we love to write music and we love to play the music that we write.
CincyMusic: What about your inspiration? You talk about The Rolling Stones and then Post Malone, and then Maroon 5.
Rocko: The Maroon 5 influence type is like Coldplay as well; they’re bands that adjust to the era. And we have a very classic sound, so we have a lot of classic influences… Led Zeppelin, The Doors, AC/DC, Kiss, Aerosmith. But we want to be modernized as well. We want to have that vintage feel to give people that sense of nostalgia, but also be able to bring the new age sound so that the kids nowadays can relate to it and become more obliged to listen to music that is played all through instruments. That’s what we take pride in and that’s how we make our music. Funk… making something out of nothing.
Graham: You know, I didn’t know the meaning of funk until Bootsy Collins’ percussionist, Tim Colby, told us. We were out one night and he said to us, “do you guys know what funk means? It means making something out of nothing.”
CincyMusic: The way people perceive music and the way they listen to it has changed since the pandemic. Are you looking to change the way you’re handling your social media and how you want to maintain interaction with your fans between live shows to keep up with all the trends?
Patrick: Like more TikTok? There’s definitely always options to expand and try to stay consistent with the brand so people know, yeah, this is Bohemian Funk. Ideally we’re always evolving and learning more because, you know, making something out of nothing. We didn’t know anything about this going into it.
Rocko: I didn't even move to Ohio expecting to start a band, but my old drummer, who I used to play with, lived ten minutes away and it just kind of happened. But we don't have money behind us, we don't have daddy's bank account. We're literally just four guys with nothing, trying to make something.
CincyMusic: So Graham, you and Rocko knew each other in Lansing and then formed this band in the Dayton area?
Graham: He called me up one day and said “hey, I’m in town.” And it wasn’t just for lunch, he moved here! I didn’t have a drum set and he’s like, “alright, I’m gonna find you one.” So we got on Facebook and found one for $30 and we learned our first twelve songs using that.
CincyMusic: Definitely the way to do it!
Rocko: I had been in several bands and I was never able to use the songs that I wrote, which was kind of like torture. It just kept building up inside of me and I didn’t even want to be in a band anymore. I just decided I was done playing music. But then I thought, if I could have a band where I can actually play the songs that I’ve written and have fun with it, then I’m willing to try it. One thing led to another, one show after another and people’s reactions gave us confidence.I mean, we’re still nobody special.
CincyMusic: But you are special! Here in Dayton you won the battle of the bands.
Bohemian Funk: That was pretty special. And it all starts somewhere. People were banging their hands on the stage and I thought they were still cheering for the guys before us but no, they were screaming for us. As soon as we walked on It was like a roar and my hands were shaking so badly I could barely plug in my amp.
There was a guy that broke his leg right there during the show but he wouldn’t leave until he made sure that they counted his vote for us. You could hear my voice shaking in the video when I started and it’s like I said earlier, the feeling is like flying. That was one of the moments in this band, if not THE greatest moment that we’ve had because those people showed up for US. And even the people who didn’t know us were pretending like they knew our words. Screaming Back Home at us. I felt like they were singing my own lyrics louder than I was and it made me want to cry and scream with joy.
Once we saw all hands in the air and had a moment to get over the shock and nerves, we went from scared to hell yeah! We fed off that crowd and it was a lot of food!
The roar of the crowd was just magical. And then like he said, we started this four part harmony that we do acapella in the beginning of Drinkin’, Smokin’, Snortin’. And as soon as we came in with that first chord. It went from a roar to a scream. That place just lit up!
CincyMusic: Pat, you’ve just recently joined the band.
Patrick: I'm local to Dayton and always kind of explored around when it comes to music. I kind of just do whatever anybody needs me for. I’m just a local musician and I love to play in general. About a year and a half ago, this band needed someone to open up for them and, at that point, I was doing solo shows. So they had me open for them and we kind of hit it off, we all got along, we all liked each other’s vibe. Then I got a call from Graham and Rocko and they were potentially looking for a new guitar player and I should come give it a shot. It was pretty magical when we first got together and just worked out really well, I feel like. It fit like a glove for real, you know? And then we all became friends because we all vibed really well with the music. It was just a really good connection and kind of made sense, like coming full circle.
Rocko: Here’s the thing about relationships… In any relationship, the stronger you are, the stronger you become and the more beautiful it becomes. And the more that you go through, the more that you bond with those people. And I mean, it's not easy to go on tour with no money. But we did it, and we're still standing. You may be missing a member, but at the same time we did it, and it's a lot of tears, a lot of words and a lot of blood. But more than anything, a lot of laughter. We laugh so much together, more than just about anybody in my life that I’ve ever laughed with. That's what friends do. And if everyone is on the same page, nothing can stop you.
Casey: I'm also a new member. I wasn't a founding member with them, but I saw them when I was in college for music. I was on break, sitting on my porch and I thought I heard a live drum kit. So me and my buddy went walking around the neighborhood, because I thought it was coming from a garage. But it's coming from the bar up the street. They were just starting to play Rock the Night Away and I was sitting there like, “Oh my God. These guys are so good. Man, I wish I was in that band!” My buddy knocks me on his shoulders like “dude, I can see YOU up there!” I saw that they posted on social media that they needed a bass player and man, was I obnoxious!
Rocko: We auditioned eight bass players but we knew immediately that Casey was the right fit. Just like with Pat, the second that we were looking for a lead guitar player, I texted him and we just kept texting back and forth and he told me how he's been playing acoustic shows and he doesn't really want to be known as just an acoustic musician because his real love is playing lead guitar. Not to mention the type of person he is, his lifestyle choices like there's just so many factors that immediately made me realize that this dude is going to play guitar with us. Even though we have been through member changes every single time we found a new one, it has immediately clicked. And it has changed the sound, but I look at that as the sound evolving. It's just growing up, if you will, and growing into the sound that will be the future.
CincyMusic: This question is for all of you… let’s start with you, Rocko. You’ve been playing music and performing for a long time. When did you know that it was something that was so much a part of you that you had to keep doing it?
Rocko: There are two answers to that. I'm trying to make sure, but the first time I realized that.I was really meant to be an entertainer and how much it filled me with joy was when I was seven years old and I performed at the talent show at school. I got so into it I painted my brand new suede vans blue because I sang Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley. I slicked my hair back and I got up there with a broken guitar, missing strings, and pretended to play it. When I sang that song, my teacher cried and everybody just lit up, it was like my first real audience experience. I won that talent show and after that, I entered every single talent show and took choir and any elective I could in high school. I had three choir classes in high school. The reason that I went to school was because singing just always filled me with joy. The moment that I realized that writing music and sharing that with the world was what I was supposed to do was honestly when I was about 17. I wrote a song called From the Ground. It was the only song I was able to write and contribute to the band I was in. And we played that for my senior year talent show and we won that talent show and it was kind of like a battle of the bands moment where everybody was just screaming. There were 4000 kids there because it was both the middle school and high school. It was like, man, if I can get people this excited and be able to relate to my music something that came from my soul, I don't want to do anything else in this world. The only other thing I know is how to build stuff, be a carpenter or blue collar worker and that does not fulfill me; music and writing do.
Graham: For me, it's an outlet necessary to an extent. My parents bought me my first drum set when I was 13 and I played that White Stripes song Seven Nation Army one million times over and my dad almost took the drum set away from me. I really didn't play much elsewhere. It was just the kick drum, you know what I mean? I punched a hole through it at one time. And at that moment, I think that I was like, I love this, you know and it almost keeps me young and makes me feel like a child. I literally have said it before, I literally feel like a child in a grown man’s body. It keeps me young; I see a lot of drummers that are older and they just look and sound young and their energy is young. It’s so physical, there are some songs that I come close to passing out by the end.
Patrick: I love to see everybody from all different ways coming together. I’ll do anything with music. I'm doing a musical in February. If you want me to come play guitar for something, I'll probably do it. I love it, I really do. It is a really universal thing.
Casey: When I was a little kid, my dad would get the pay-per-view for concerts and he loved Kiss. And when Gene Simmons would do his big solo and I would hear this sound and say, hey, that’s not a guitar, what is that? And dad said “that’s a bass!” And I grew up a little bit and I was always a singer. In fifth grade I did a talent show and I thought it was a drag until I realized everyone was looking at me and it was great; that just reinforced it. In high school we started a band and played covers and played a lot of shows at school. Even though it was just covers, it was cool because the fans were singing the songs back. So we’d play Red Hot Chili Peppers and Weezer and Blink 182 and everybody was loving it. After high school, I took a break. I thought I wanted to be a construction worker and I stopped playing for a minute. Then one day I was so mad because I hadn’t played for about a year. I picked up my bass and tried to play some Chili Peppers and I couldn’t do it any more. So I changed my major from construction management to music management and met these guys and just took off and now here we are.
CincyMusic: So what’s next for Bohemian Funk?
Rocko: Releasing the album. Stadium tour.
CincyMusic: I can definitely see you as part of a stadium tour. There’s plenty of room out there for a band like yours.
Rocko: I just don't want anybody to make me or any of us think that we deserve it because we're just doing what we can and hopefully can be on some kind of stadium tour or have our name out there being the headliner that's obviously the goal. We’re releasing this album for people to love it and to get positive feedback. The difference between being a cover band and an original band is that people don't sing your songs back unless they've listened to them multiple times right? Songs that are already out and been on the radio, people know all the words and so they immediately are like, “oh, that's my song, I'm gonna go jam to that.” To get somebody to get up and dance to words they don't know and songs they've never heard, that's hard sometimes. But when they dance, you know it’s real. And you know it’s right. I think we've come full circle back to where we started this conversation.
Any new fan that we meet that comes up to me or any of us, I literally dub them in like a knight – you are part of the Funk Family, welcome I give them a hug, because I wanna see their faces again. I want them to feel like we're close and like we're not on some kind of pedestal and you can’t come talk to us. Please come talk to us. We want you to talk to us!
And with that, the band treated me to their vocal warm up of Drinkin’, Smokin’, Snortin’ before taking the stage and putting on one helluva show for this newly dubbed Funk Family Member.
You can catch Bohemian Funk live at their next show on December 3rd at Bojangles Nightclub in Dayton.