By MIKE CHAIKEN
Darik and the Funbags will serve as the climax to a day’s worth of music at the Mum Festival this Saturday.
The Connecticut-based rockers are headlining on the musical stage from 8:30 to 11 p.m.
We caught up with the band’s drummer Matt Chirsky, a 21-year-veteran of the band, for an email interview.
Chirsky is joined in the band by bassist Darik Pearson, keyboardist Steve Chams, guitarist Fred Dotson, and lead auxiliary vocalist Vinny Ruotolo.
Observer: Tell me a little bit about the history of Darik and the Funbags because they have long been a mainstay on the Connecticut music scene?
Matt: Darik and the Funbags have been on the scene for over 20 years, starting in 1997 as a band called “Free Beer”. They played ‘80s metal covers in local bars in New Haven County. The two founding members at that time decided they needed to change things up and inject something new into the sleepy local music scene.
After a year of schlepping through the local dive bar scene, “Free Beer” changed their name to “Darik and the Funbags” – kind of on the basis of egos in the band and their body part of choice on our fellow “Funbaggers”. At least that’s the version I heard. I think there may be multiple versions out there. The phrase “Funbagger” was coined and can be described as one who is IN and band and/or one who follows the band.. In 1998, a new lineup was hand-selected that quickly overtook the scene in late 1999 into the early 2000s and lasted through 2005— when the first official member change had occurred bringing in a new keyboard player…
The combination of the band’s talent, chemistry onstage, song selection, drama, unpredictability, onstage antics and continued controversy were the perfect storm for the ultimate party band…
After a couple more member changes over the years, we progressed from “badass punks” to “grown ups” garnering quality gigs such as casinos, festival type events, private parties and weddings…
O: The name of the band has the word “Funbag” —how does the band mine “the fun”?
M: Quite simply, the band promotes an interactive party vibe, getting the crowd going with danceable, feel good sing-along songs to include an occasional conga line and a limbo stick…
O: What kind of music do you guys focus on… covers, originals… and how has it evolved over the years?
M: Funbags are all covers and back in 2001, we had produced our first CD (recorded at Tuxedo Junction in Danbury) and took a stab at writing an original, yes, one, original. With five egos in the band and such a wide range of musical influences and styles we knew we couldn’t sustain writing our own music…
The song selection and set lists definitely varied over the years though there are still some mainstay Funbag classics that we play. ..
One of the biggest changes (over the years) was going from guitar-driven rock music to synthesizer bass and heavy keyboards, which is prevalent in most of today’s music— rock is essentially dead but we still keep it alive.
O: You’ll be headlining the Mum Festival, why did you guys want to perform on the festival stage and why do you think the band is a great fit for the festival?
M: The Funbags have dabbled locally in such clubs as Bleachers and SportsRock USA back in the day (now Spare Time). Today, it’s at a level where we can expand the party outside the local bar scene and bring it into the community for all-ages to enjoy. The band is so versatile that we can go from an R rated Club show to a PG rated wedding to a G rated Town Event covering ages 8 to 80 getting everybody involved. There will not be one song you wont know.
O: You’re from Bristol, how does it feel to be playing in your hometown at such an iconic hometown event?
M: Feels great. I think it brings it full circle being a resident the last 14 years, working in town as a letter carrier and supporting local businesses when I’m out and about. I can now entertain the community I live and work in— I think I can finally get some people out to see the band who don’t want to drive out of Bristol.
O: Ultimately, how do you want the audience to feel when the final note sounds of the Darik and the Funbags performance?
M: Wanting more.
Darik and the Funbags perform at the Mum Festival on Memorial Boulevard, Bristol from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.