MaineList Article: Funnel


Funnel is one of Maine and New Hampshire's class acts covering over two decades of hard rock music. It seems obvious to say that the band is heavily influenced by Tool, since they comfortably cover several of their songs. Other bands might be challenged to perform Tool live, where Funnel is known to knock off songs like “Forty-Six and 2” as if it were any other song on their set list. The band also covers a wide range of radio friendly hard rock songs from bands like Disturbed, System of a Down, Godsmack, as well as a wider span of music dating as far back as 80’s metal with just a couple of choice songs from bands like “Judas Priest” and even the classic “Cult of Personality” by Living Color for those who really remember those times.

Funnel at Wardens Bar and GrillI met with Funnel this weekend at “Warden’s Bar & Grill” in Lewiston to talk about some of their experiences as a band. Before tonight, the band hadn’t played in Lewiston for about three years, so it was interesting to see some of their old friends shaking hands, reaquainting and elaborating about old times. Many of those people seemed to remember when Scott Labbe fronted the band as “Uncle Jack” over a decade ago. With the past support of the Lewiston people during their reign as Uncle Jack, the night wouldn’t have ended appropriately without performing one of their old original songs. So the band broke into a cover version of “Dead Box”, an old Uncle Jack tune, to satisfy the crowd.

Uncle Jack Reunion?I made many short conversations as I carried myself through the room, talking with patrons and friends of the band and even seeing familiar faces from my past excursions to Warden’s. It seemed that many people enjoyed the heavy tones of the dance-able hard rock selections that Funnel had to offer. Heads bopped with approval, lips moved in sync with lyrics, a few people took up space on the dance floor, but all heads were generally turned towards the band.

One conversation that I walked in on was intriguing. Some of the guys from the band were talking with Jenny, the owner of Warden’s Bar & Grill, about a gig which could happen in the next few months. Apparently Scott Labbe, former singer for Uncle Jack, has arranged a new band called “Mud Sugar” along with Marc Deraps, former bassist of Strict9. The idea is to put both bands together on the same bill to allow Labbe and Funnel to join at the end of the event for a little Uncle Jack reunion performance. Since Lewiston was pretty much Uncle Jack’s biggest area of support, this would be a truly magnificent show.

“I used to see these guys when they were still Uncle Jack!”

Linda, a fan of the band from the past, started to explain to me some of her earlier memories with the band. “I used to see these guys at Willy’s when they were still Uncle Jack. They played Wednesday nights. I think it was TOS night or something like that.” She explained. Her enthusiasm towards the band seemed uplifting and positive. Linda probably didn’t care what the band called themselves, her reaction to the music and seeing these guys jamming again was bringing back good memories.

Reacquainting LewistonBut the band never really left the scene in general. They’ve been playing just about every weekend together since they started booking as a cover band! They just hadn’t been back to Lewiston in a while.

The band is working with Warden’s right now to try and get themselves reacquainted with the people of Lewiston, realizing that much has changed in the past decade since Uncle Jack. There’s new people frequenting the bars, and even the musical tastes and styles have evolved since then.

I’ve personally seen Funnel perform many times. I’ve been invited to sing songs with the band on stage too, which has been a lot of fun for me as well. I never fall short of having a good time whether I’m on stage singing with the band or just a guest out in the audience dancing and socializing with new friends.

Tonight, the band invited their friend Chris Corbin to come up and jam. Chris sang one song with the band, and then later in the evening took Hammer’s sticks to fill in on drums to another song. It’s great to see a guest perform with a band once in a while, but this isn’t open-mic night. Every chance I’ve ever had to sing with the band has been an honor. These guys are tight, and they always make me sound really good!

Chris Michaud (Bass / Vocals)

Chris Michaud (Bass / Vocals)

Chris Michaud started playing bass and singing at the age of 13. Despite his youthful appearance, Chris has been around the scene for quite some time. Before Funnel, and even long before Uncle Jack, he was working steady in the local club scene booking gigs with an authentic 80’s hair band known as “Magic” out of Portland. “I played in a lot of Top 40 hair bands actually.” Chris was a part of the working class 80’s local scene, and remembers much of what was happening in the scene back in those days.

Chris Michaud“Right now, music is in a place sorta like it was in the 80’s.” Says Chris, pointing out some similarities. “People aren’t sure what’s gonna happen next. You know? It’s like.. Where do we go from here? The 80’s was a lot like that.” The seasoned bassist remembers a time during the transitional phase of music when the late 80’s and early 90’s met Grunge. “I remember hearing Nirvana for the first time and wondering what was going on. Things didn’t really start to make sense until after a few other bands really started taking their role in the scene too. Bands like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots for example.”

At first, many musicians might have felt threatened by the oncoming change of vibes. Music was transforming from a very technical, high powered, high energy thing, to an emotional, yet dirty and somewhat unorthodox approach. The 80’s was dying, and making room for a whole new genre of music. Now, the important thing to note is… the 80’s was in fact DYING! People who didn’t want to let it go felt like they were really losing something. And those who were ready to try something new, turned away from it as if it were a bad habit. For a while, many people openly admitted that they hated the 80’s, or were tired of it. Some were embarrassed by it, others simply amused by some of the odd 80’s styles and behaviors.

Chris Michaud (continued)If Grunge was the transitional phase from 80’s hair bands to modern Alternative, then I guess Emo is supposed to be the transitional phase into what’s to come next. “Today we can only compare that with Emo, which I still don’t really believe is going to do it. At least not like Grunge did.” States Chris, who still seems eager to discover what is next in the style of music for the next generation. Regardless of the direction of music, it seems apparent that Chris tries to keep up with what’s going on, making him a good influence on the band.

But one cool thing about Funnel is, these guys don’t seem to have any appointed leader. Nobody in the band seems to be in any management type of position. No one is calling the shots, or making decisions for the band. Instead, I see a situation where all three members have equal say over the way things are done as a band.

Ted Warner (Guitar / Vocals)

Ted Warner (Guitar / Vocals)

Ted Warner is an outstanding guitarist, having had many experiences of his own in the local music scene. In his teens, Ted worked with an all-original band named; “China White”. Some might remember his time working in a band named “Fliptrigger” too in the 90’s. But mainly, for the past 15 years Ted has stayed with the same couple of guys as either Uncle Jack back in the 90’s, or Funnel. Although, he’s done some fill-in work for bands like “Riot Act” in the past too.

Ted WarnerRecently, Ted was picked up by Walt from “Lost of Liftoff” to perform shows as a side-kick in Walt’s band. Ted has expressed no interest in leaving Funnel, and doesn’t predict that this new relationship with another band will in any way interfere with the future for Funnel. “I love what I am doing in both bands. For me, this is a means to express myself as an original artist, as well as a cover performer.”

I’d love to see Ted do a solo recording project. I’ve heard some of his original music, and even keep one of his original songs as a ring-tone in my cellphone. I’ve heard him express an interest in recording some songs and sharing them on myspace or whatnot.

Mike Stevens (Drums) Hammer

Mike Stevens (Drums) Hammer

Mike Stevens is a name you don’t hear so often, but “Hammer” is unmistakably a name that does gain some popular usage in the Maine / New Hampshire music scene. Hammer’s musical background began at age 6 with drums. He is self-taught from an early age, and is now passing down his knowledge of drums to his son Ricky.

Hammer (continued)Hammer played in “Swift Kick” from 1991 to 1994, and also played in a band called “Mr.Meaner” back in the late 80’s as well. He’s been jamming with these guys and has remained a solid member of the group ever since they began together back in 1992 as Uncle Jack and now as Funnel.

“Back in the 80’s, people went out all the time. Band played four nights per week back then.” Hammer reminisces. “Times have changed! Now-a-days, bands have fewer dates available for booking gigs, making it more difficult to keep their schedules tight.”

You can find Hammer on off-nights still hanging around some of the places where he performs such as Cuddy’s in Brunswick which isn’t so far from his home.

More About The Band

Something worth mentioning about Funnel is the fact that the band consists of only three members. The vocals are traded off fairly evenly by guitarist (Ted Warner) and bassist (Chris Michaud) who collectively accomplish vocal harmonies and leads sharing the role as front-man for the band. The band is also backed by their heavy-handed drummer Mike Stevens, more commonly known as "Hammer". These guys have been playing together a long time, and any common listener immediately recognizes their familiarity with one another during their performance on stage.

The band mixes a couple of new originals in with the cover songs of their set list to provide their audience with a sample of their own creativity too. “We’re always talking about adding more originals to the list.” Says Chris Michaud who hopes to eventually record a CD with the band.

Funnel was originally named FUNL, but changed their name to the correctly spelled version of the same name when they purchased their website domain. Ted remarked that he felt that it would be easier to give their fans simple instructions like; “Go to!”, rather than having to explain that they spell it a special way, and then expect everyone to just remember.

Funnel ScheduleYou can find Funnel performing routine gigs in various venues across Maine and New Hampshire. Check out “Mr.Goodbars” and “Club Mirage” in Old Orchard Beach, “Cuddy's Tavern” in Brunswick Maine, “Paradise Beach Club” & “Goodfellas” in Laconia, “Wally's” in Hampton Beach, and “The Bear's Den” in Dover Foxcroft to name a few.

“We like doing gigs like Hempstock whenever we get the chance too! We’ve done a couple of Hempstocks already, but for us, as a working band, these gigs are probably some of the more enjoyable.” The band has done Hempstock under both names; Uncle Jack and Funnel.

Right now, the bulk of Funnel’s fan-base is in New Hampshire. Although unintentional, it seems that the band shifted areas during their transition from being an original band working steady throughout Maine, to the all cover band working mainly in areas out of New Hampshire. Now, the tables have turned. They have a huge following in New Hampshire, yet few people in Maine really don’t know much about the band at all. Those Mainers who remember these guys, are more apt to remember Uncle Jack rather than Funnel. But times are changing, new faces in the bar scene are emerging, and it’s now possible to step back into those old familiar stomping grounds and begin to establish a new relationship with previous roots as we have seen at Warden’s tonight.

Live Video: Differences

Here's a video containing live footage of Funnel. The video was recorded using a cellphone, and pieced together to give the band a music video for one of their original songs; "Differences", The band mixes a few originals in with the cover songs of their set list to provide their audience with a sample of their own creativity.


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