Quick question and don’t think about it. What do dinosaurs, robots and funk have in common? Come up with anything? I didn’t think so. While you may not have had an immediate answer before, Philadelphia-based band Mojoceratops is aiming to change that. And with a new album nearly ready for release and a single, “Partybot-9000,” available on iTunes, Mojoceratops is poised to take over the Philly funk scene.
The funk beast, recently reappearing on earth after spending a few million years at an intergalactic dance party, took note of how drastically unfunky Earth parties had become and decided he was just the dinosaur to change that. Using an arsenal of funk-infused, danceable beats, radio friendly hooks and fun, inventive lyrics, Mojoceratops is aiming to save Philadelphia and then the whole world from the dull mediocrity that has pervaded our planet’s parties.
While searching the popular news aggregator Reddit one day, Jerry D’Agostino (vocals/keyboards) came across a news story about the discovery of a new species of dinosaur. After a few drinks, the man who made the discovery landed on the unconventional name “Mojoceratops” for his find.
While it may sound like an odd choice, the name lends itself well to the dinosaur, which sports a unique, almost heart-shaped, design on the top of its head and it’s thought to have used these frills to attract mates. It was then that D’Agostino knew he had found the perfect mascot to embody his new project – a dinosaur that evolved to look funkier than its mates.
A huge fan of monster movies, such as “Godzilla,” D’Agostino noted that he loved the way monsters can represent so many different aspects of our personality and felt that the Mojoceratops embodied the spirit of his latest project – a funky beast that just wants to party and have a good time.
“It’s like that character Slurms McKenzie on ‘Futurama,’” said D’Agostino. “Mojoceratops just wants everyone to party all night long.”
As incredible as it may sound, and despite already recording, producing and mastering their first album “Dino Dance Party,” Mojoceratops has only been in existence since March, 2011. Initially formed by friends D’Agostino and drummer Brent Penman, the longtime duo teamed up with producer/bassist B.J. Felsted and the current incarnation of Mojoceratops began to take shape. It was only once the trio added the shredding guitar work of Schuyler Schweers that the group was complete and production began on their first album of 11 dance party hits.
D’Agostino and Penman, initially from New Jersey but now calling Philadelphia home, were formerly members of the band “Jersey Fresh,” where D’Agostino played guitar. After putting an ad on Craigslist searching for a local bass player, the two were hooked up with Felsted and the trio realized they had a great deal in common, both musically and personality-wise.
“We had a bunch of songs, but didn’t have a bass player,” said D’Agostino. “The songs grew from there but they really took form and became what they are today once BJ and then Sky came on board.”
Along with their excellent guitar work, both Felsted (a native of East Haven, CT now living in Upper Darby) and Schweers (a native of Havertown now living in Upper Darby) bring with them a background and education in music production.
“Sky brings a few key things to the group, like awesome rock and roll guitar work,” noted D’Agostino. “But his big personality and ideas always seem to go hand in hand with ours. In fact, he’s already written a new song that we’re already performing called ‘How’d You Get Away (With Murder on the Dance Floor).’”
Though “Jersey Fresh” managed to produce a handful of singles, it was nothing to the extent of Felsted’s previous band, “Bad Apples,” which recorded two albums (“Home” and “Today Begins at Night”). While the majority of songs were written by D’Agostino, once the group began recording and mixing their work, Felsted realized the potential of the sound they were creating. After that process was complete, the group had their album mastered by Gene Paul, son of legendary musician Les Paul.
“Jerry had written the songs and I put my playing and style into it,” said Felsted. “This album has more direction than the ‘Bad Apples’ albums and we had a better idea of the sound we wanted. ‘Bad Apples’ stuff was more jazzy and the tones were warmer but this is more party/rock and roll influenced – mainstream but with a sense of humor.”
While the band is focusing on producing and performing as much original material as possible, there is one cover they intend on keeping in their live-performance repertoire – James Brown’s “Living in America.” Not only because it fits perfectly with their funky sound but also because the tune conjures up images of iconic Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed as he prepares to fight the Russian Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV.”
There’s no denying the influence The City of Brotherly Love had on their work. The foursome are working hard to get their music out to as many people as possible, especially in this area, as Felsted described that “there is a lot of Philly in our sound.”
“We only have a handful of gigs lined up right now,” said D’Agostino. “You know how bands used to hit telephone poles with fliers? We’re trying to do that on the internet. We’re trying to get our stuff on blogs and trying to get people to hear it.”
For more Mojoceratops visit their homepage, on Facebook, on iTunes and on Jango internet radio.
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