Henry + the Invisibles can just about do it all when it comes to producing electrifying dance-party vibes. ‘The One Man Funk Band,’ aka Henry Roland, loops and layers everything from vocal harmonies, funk guitar, groovy bass, soulful keys, drum machines and percussion to create original high energy dance music that sounds like a solid 5-piece funk ensemble.
The Austin-based artist, producer, and all-around funk machine got his start in The Live Music Capital at the age of 16 performing at the legendary Black Cat Lounge on Sixth Street. As part of the 7-piece funk outfit, Gingerbreadmen, Henry was fortunate to tour alongside some of the genre’s most iconic artists. He would later go on to NYC for nearly a decade where he studied jazz. Upon his return to Austin in 2007, Henry tested his rock chops as a member of Starchild. When the rock trio disbanded in 2009 with several shows remaining on the calendar, Henry saw an opportunity to return to his funk roots. He had just purchased a loop pedal and an idea began to brew. “I called the remaining venues and told them, ‘Hey, I’m coming. It’s just me and I’ve got a whole new thing,” he recalls. “Fortunately, there were some people that believed in it and that’s how ‘the one man funk band’ all started.
Henry + the Invisibles made his full-length, ‘solo’ debut in 2016 with the entirely self-produced and engineered MUSAIC, an album that would earn top 10 honors that year at the Austin Music Awards. In the 8 years since his one man band origin, Henry + the Invisibles have played a solid role in the local and national funk scene and have become a mainstay on the national festival circuit. Henry + the Invisibles will close out September at the River Revival Festival in New Braunfels where he will join an all-star funk, blues and southern, roots rock line-up to help spread a groovy message of love and peace.
We had the chance to speak with Henry + the Invisibles about the ‘one man funk band’s’ creation and the upcoming River Revival Festival. Read what the funk machine had to say below.
What originally drew you into the party funk genre?
I’ve been into funk my whole life. The first band I was in was a 7-piece funk unit called the Gingerbreadmen. We toured the country and eventually grew into a 12, and sometimes even a 13-piece. I was pretty lucky when I was growing up to go on the road with Maceo Parker and open shows for Tower of Power, War and Funkadelic. I’ve studied jazz in New York and have been in several rock bands playing studio gigs. But, when I decided to do a one-man project, I felt most comfortable doing funk…especially since it has a looping aesthetic to it.
Is there a specific order or routine you prefer when layering tracks?
Not really. It may start with a beat, or a lyric, or a guitar riff, or a bass riff, or a keyboard riff. I don’t have any particular order. It really comes from whatever instrument I’m practicing with that day.
Is there a particular instrument or section you enjoy the most?
It varies from week-to-week. Right now I’m kind of in a keyboard phase. But, I very much enjoy the bass. Originally, guitar was my prime instrument. But, I don’t really have a favorite at this point. They’re all important in what I do.
What do you find to be the most difficult obstacle when creating music as a one-man band?
In the beginning it was actually producing a song with a form to it. Verse, pre-chorus, chorus, repeat…that sort of thing. I had a pretty basic loop pedal at first. I would record, press it again to un-record and then press it twice to make a chorus. That was pretty difficult to master. It was tough to make a song that was fascinating because looping can become monotonous if you don’t make it sound interesting. I’ve started using a drum machine over the past couple of years and I‘ve got a ton of different keyboard patches and drum sounds now. I’ve also picked up a loop pedal that actually allows me to layer three different loops at once and I’ve figured out a lot of different ways to orchestrate what a band would sound like.
You stay pretty busy touring and hitting the festival circuit. What are you most looking forward to from the River Revival Festival?
I’m super excited to share the stage with Pimps of Joytime…and all the guys from Houston. The Splice Records folks are genuinely sweet people. So, I’m looking forward to seeing that whole crew. I’ve never performed the River Revival before. But, it looks like a very intimate and beautiful festival. I’m very much looking forward to it and just being able to catch all of the acts.
Your September tour will conclude in New Braunfels with the River Revival, what’s up next for Henry + the Invisibles?
I’ll be heading back on the road. I’m going to Fayetteville, Little Rock and Missouri. We’re doing a lot of Midwest gigs. I’m also currently working on a new album and if everything goes right it should be out at the beginning of Spring 2018. I’m working a lot on video production as well and trying to get my studio tip-top. I’m looking forward to doing more video production and have been writing a lot.
For additional information on Henry + the Invisibles visit http://www.henryinvisible.com/.
For additional information on the River Revival Festival and tickets visit http://www.splicerecordstx.com/events/river-revival/.