The Gainesville-based band, which performs in concert on Saturday night at High Dive, is getting ready to release a new album later this summer that will show how far they’ve come — and maybe whether they’ve arrived.
For the first 10 years of their existence, Morning Fatty was just another jam band playing cool music and having fun. Lately, however, they have been getting downright serious about making a name for themselves.
For their latest project, the four-member band is surrounding itself with Grammy-winning talent that they hope will translate into an album that will take them to the next level.
“We’re trying to break through into the mainstream and reach the younger crowd and a new audience,” said John Pop, who formed the original Morning Fatty lineup in 2004, when he was still a fresh-faced kid in high school. “We’re trying to stay current and still be original.”
On Saturday night, the Gainesville-based funk/rock/electro/dub band will perform before its hometown crowd at High Dive, 210 SW 2nd Ave. Morning Fatty will headline a show that also includes Gainesville’s own Bells & Robes as well as Orlando’s Kash’d Out.
Doors open at 8 p.m. and the music starts at 9. Tickets are $10 in advance (through ticketfly.com and Hear Again Records) and $12 at the door.
We’re trying to break through into the mainstream and reach the younger crowd and a new audience.”
— John Pop of Morning Fatty
“We’re putting a lot of super-high energy into the show,” Pop said. “We’ll have some new songs, a new laser-light show and some new remixes. We’re expecting a great turnout even though a lot of students are out of town.”
Morning Fatty includes Pop on bass, Andrew White on vocals, Miller Joyner on guitar and Tim Mulberry on drums. Pop and White, both 28, met while classmates at Santaluces High School in South Florida and have been with Morning Fatty since the early days, when the band was a 12-piece ska band.
Joyner, 25, is the youngest member of the band and one of the earliest graduates of the prestigious Berklee College of Music’s online bachelor’s program geared toward touring musicians.
Mulberry, 33, is the band’s newest member but also the most experienced one. The Gainesville native graduated from Florida A&M and has played drums for several big-name bands, including a full world tour with the Black Eyed Peas. He joined Morning Fatty in 2014 fresh off that world tour.
“Through word of mouth, Tim found out we needed a drummer,” Pop said. “And that’s when we started getting really professional. Tim took us to the next level. You learn a lot from an experienced professional.”
Morning Fatty changed their style completely, transforming from a jam band playing reggae and punk to something Pop calls — appropriately — “poppier.”
“We moved more toward electronic music, still heavy but with electronic drops,” he said. “Anytime a band mixes Gucci Mane and Pink Floyd in the same sentence, it’s something you oughta see.”
Another thing worth checking out is the laser show that Morning Fatty has integrated into its show. The band pieced together a $22,000 light system that has become a key element of their performances.
“We wanted to give our fans the ability to watch these amazing light shows at smaller venues,” Pop said. “It’s a laser show you won’t see anywhere else.”
Morning Fatty has been busy for the past year recording its newest album, Fresh Kicks, which is expected to be released in August. And in doing so, the band has posted up with some major talent from the music industry.
James Wisner, the album’s producer, is a multi-Gold record producer, mixer and songwriter who has served as sound engineer for the band Slightly Stoopid. Wisner’s wife, Angela Hunte, is the vocal producer for Fresh Kicks. She was a co-writer and co-producer for Empire State of Mind, the Alicia Keys and Jay-Z song that won a Grammy for Best Rap Song in 2009.
Meanwhile, DJ Buddha, a DJ for the rap artist Pitbull, is the electronic music producer for Morning Fatty’s upcoming album. The album’s executive producer is Jimmy Douglass, a four-time Grammy winner who has also worked with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Ludicris and dozens of other top artists dating to the 1970s.
Morning Fatty already has two albums out — Out of the Hat in 2012 and Resistance in 2014 — but Pop said that Fresh Kicks should be the “game-changer.”
The band has already built a solid fan base around the U.S. with eight tours that have included appearances in 41 states and the Virgin Islands.
Of course, people still ask how the band came up with its catchy name. Pop said it all started in high school when a drummer did a sleepover at his house.
“For some reason, his face was all puffy when he woke up the next morning,” Pop said. “So I said to him, ‘Hey, why are you such a morning fatty?’ because his face was so swollen.”
Little did Pop know that 13 years later, what started out as a joke would be the name of a band perhaps on the verge of greatness.
— Noel Leroux
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