Zigaboo Modeliste’s Life Of Funkiness

Here Comes The Meterman

Individually, all the guys were all gigging around town in the early ’60s. Porter and Nocentelli came together with Neville to form The Neville Sounds. Modeliste was playing with local legend, guitarist Deacon John, and joined the group a few years later. Did the four know right off the bat that it was a synchronistic pairing and history in the making? “We were just trying to take cares of our families, trying to keep from getting a day job. We were just home boys looking to play that funk, to get those deep, deep pockets going on. We started playing small clubs and didn’t think anything about how to get a record on the charts and that kind of stuff. It wasn’t political; it was just playing and having a good time. Then we moved to another level where we started playing a few concerts and tours. But the powers that be did not do the right things to get it where it should’ve been. Even though it was a very rough ride at the time, I think we were determined to make it work and that’s what we did. We knew nobody could play that kind of stuff like us. It made me see that, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to play well and fortunate enough to have somebody invest some money for your promotion and marketing, music could be a beautiful thing to do. But without these resources, it could be a struggle for most musicians and artists alike. I went out to see the Rolling Stones and the way they were living. I couldn’t believe it! They’re musicians, and they have all of this? Do all of this? That’s when I could see the parallel between The Meters and the Stones. They have their own signature sound, and nobody can do it like them. But I don’t think we realized how important our music was and how way ahead of its time it was until much later when the group had disbanded.

“But I had great times every time I went out with The Meters, even if the gig went down messed up, because it was just another experience that took me away from home to open up my eyes to what’s going on with the rest of the world. Every time I got ready to play, I would always be excited. I’m still like that today.”

Find Yourself

By 1985, disgusted with the music business and determined to forge his own path, Modeliste put down his sticks. For several years, he worked manual labor, managed a shoe store, and eventually left his home state and relocated to Southern California to be closer to his business manager and close friend, Joe Jones. “I had just had it. I needed some answers, and I just couldn’t get them just playing gigs. I stopped playing to be under Joe’s tutelage and learned a whole lot about the music business, contracts, and publishing from him during that time. After that, I went back to the drums and started mapping out how I was going to put some music down, record some albums, sell them all over the world, and own everything. It was about me getting the right information so I could help myself and stop depending on other people. One of the ways you can help yourself and empower yourself is you have to own everything you do — all the fruits of your labor. The business can leave a bitter taste in your mouth and can be very hard on individuals who haven’t had any experience. If you have a bitter taste in your mouth about the business, how can your music be 100-percent sweet? So I’m done with that phase, and now I’m on the right track.”

Ease Back

Currently, Modeliste is hanging his hat in Northern California and has carved out a fruitful career with two solo albums: Zigaboo.com and I’m On The Right Track. He’s got two groups to realize his musical visions, one in the Bay Area (Zigaboo Modeliste And The Aahkesstra) and one in Louisiana (Zigaboo And The Funk Review). “I’m working on another recording right now which’ll be out maybe by summer. It’s 100-times funkier! We’re stretching out on the funk and taking it to another level. I’m also working on a way to do a video where people can get some Zigaboo right in their own home. Right now, I’m looking for my ’ways and means’ committee to set it up. We’re a mom and pop organization, and I don’t mind being old-fashioned for a minute. I have plenty of good ideas, and I’m soon to be implementing them. I’ve got a story I want to tell, and there’s still al lot of horizons for myself. It’s not too late in the game, and I still think I can do something that is beat-sational.”

And The Meters are certainly poised to do more things in the coming year, in part due to the avid response to the shows and the willingness on the part of the band to re-create history and to write a new chapter. “It’s too early to tell what’s going to happen with this band. I think it’s certainly something where we have to sit down and really structure the business part of it. The Meters already know how to play their music. We just want to be successful in our choices for the future. But I think anything is possible.”

Zig’s Rig

Drums: DW Collector’s Maple
1. 22" x 18" Bass Drum
2. 14" x 5.5" Snare
3. 10" x 8" Tom
4. 12" x 9" Tom
5. 14" x 11" Floor Tom

Cymbals: Sabian
A. 13" HHX Groove Hats
B. 16" Medium Thin Crash
C. 20" Hand Hammered Power Bell Ride
D. 16" Hand Hammered Extra Thin Crash

Next page: An interview with Meters bassist George Porter Jr. plus a Zigaboo Modeliste drum lesson

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