The Baha Men
‘Diggin’ the Soundtrack to Their Lives‘
The Bahamian music and dance tradition of Junkanoo, which traces back to the slavery days when slaves were allowed to gather together one day a week for festivities, is fused with the modern influences of dance rhythms, pop music and Latin percussion and back in 1982 was brought together by Isaiah Taylor and his band, The Baha Men. Straddling the line between Caribbean and western popular music, and putting smiles on people's faces and a bounce in their steps as it passes on through them, The Baha Men line-up may have changed dramatically over the years, but never has it been so commercially viable as it is today.
Although their debut album, Junkanoo, released in 1992, was heavily rooted in the Junkanoo style and featured updated versions of traditional Bahamian tunes, The Baha Men have increasingly leaned towards modern music. Their second album, I Like What I Like, was produced by Tommy D (Michael Jackson), Don Dubose, John Holliday and Trevor Steele (The Escape Club) with Holliday and Steele co-writing five songs with the band. The first single from the album was ’That's The Way, Etc.,’ and was a medley of tunes by K.C. And The Sunshine Band. The Baha Men continued their more-contemporary approach with their third album, Doong Spank, released in 1999, but it was the release of Who Let the Dogs Out, featuring the Grammy-winning single of the same name in 2001 that suddenly turned these mild-mannered men into MTV stars ! The album went on to sell over five million copies and in early 2002, the Baha Men attempted for more Top 40 stardom by issuing the follow up disc, Move It Like This which featured the ‘Shrek’ movie song, ’Best Years Of Our Lives.’
Sitting down with some of the guys in their dressing room prior to a gig, I first wondered just where their name had originated from. Moe ”Baha Men comes from the phrase ‘men from the Bahamas.”
Are you an ‘overnight success’ story ? Moe ”According to America. We’ve been doing music for maybe all our lives and ‘Who Let The Dog’s Out ?’ was our seventh CD and prior to that we had many more records out in Japan. So, we’ve been doing this for a very long time. It’s just that the record companies that we were with before didn’t really promote the band, but fortunately through ‘Who let The Dog’s Out ?’ we got a lot of radio play in not just America but all around the world.”
Did you expect that ‘Who Let The Dog’s Out ?’ was going to be such a huge worldwide hit ? Marvin ”Basically, we knew it was gonna be a hit, but we were all like, second guessing. But, actually it had a life of it’s own.”
Are all your lyrics especially meaningful to you guys in any way ? Moe ”The Bahamian lyrics are all about having fun and that’s exactly what we love to do. Have fun !,” he laughs heartedly.
You seem to have had a lot of soundtrack inclusions recently ! Any reason for this ? Moe ”It just so happens that we did have songs at the time that when they came out found their way into movies, yeah, but, ‘Shrek’ (’Best Years of Our Lives’) was a different situation because that was recorded especially for the movie. But as far as making more, of course we want to keep this going for a long time, because we’ve been trying for a long time to get to this level in America and now that we’re here we just don’t wanna be like one shot and we’re gone. So we’re lucky that we’ve had the opportunity to have lots of songs in lots of movies. That’s a very good avenue for recognition also because not a lot of people that listen to the radio go to the movies and visa-versa. So, we get some recognition from the people that go to the movies also.”
Is there another movie project coming up ? Moe ”Hopefully, we’ve recorded a song called ‘Accident’ for a movie, but I don’t know if they’re gonna use it in the movie or what though. And of course we’ve got a song in ‘Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course’ which is a remake of the Elton John song ‘Crocodile Rock.’
Just how many soundtracks have you been on then ? Group ” ’Scooby-Doo,’ ‘Like Mike,’ ‘Rugrats In Paris,’ ‘Miss Congeniality,’ ‘Rat Race,’ ‘Shrek,’ ‘Snow Dogs,’ ‘Big Fat Liar,’ My Father The Hero’ …. And Chea had an acting part in that movie,” Moe chips in now pointing directly at his fellow keyboardist ! ”He was the player,” he adds.
You guys should put out an album of just your soundtrack work ! Monks ”As a matter of fact I think they’re planning on doing that. It’s gonna be called Baha Men: The Soundtracks,” he adds laughing.
Who’s the troublemaker in the band ? Everybody points and looks at Marvin ! ”Basically,” Marvin relates ”I grew up as a loner with my grandmother and my cousin Jerome and I just like to be by myself sometimes. So I just walk by myself and people don’t normally understand that … but I’m normal,” he laughs.
Who’s the joker ? Again, everyone points, but this time to Chea. ”I don’t think so,” he quickly responds, a huge smile breaking across his face. ”Ok, I take being the joker in the group, but you know being out here on the road man somebody has to keep the guys spirits going.”
So are you a prankster also ? Chea ”Yeah, I’m a prankster.”
So what was the last prank you pulled on the guys ? Moe ”He locked himself on the bus,” he chips in laughing along with now everybody else in the band.
Chea ”No, no. They played that one on me. They locked me in the bus,” he smiles sheepishly.
So, who’s Mr. Loverman ? Again, they all turn and point, but this time to Moe ”I’m a babe magnet, man. Chicks are just attracted to me. It’s nothing to do with me. I just have this magnetic thing going on, because I’m tall, bald and sexy !”
Finally, what would you like the public to know about the Baha Men ? Moe ”That we’re a bunch of fun-loving guys from the Bahamas that like to have fun and love to please people with their music.”
Marvin ”And we’re not a one-hit wonder,” he adds finally.
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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