New Primitives: Latin funk-rock band drops long-anticipated 2nd CD





The New Primitives album AmericaNomad, after more than a decade, is finally a reality. You can count on one hand — actually one finger — the number of Twin Cities bands playing Afro-Cuban rock, a genre that gave the music industry such legends as Santana and War. New Primitives is that band. They’re the winners five times running of Best Reggae Band at the Minnesota Music Awards because that’s the closest category they fit into, but reggae is just part of their arsenal.

A jamming juggernaut, they have no problem, over the course of an evening, going from reggae to rock to country to funk (including a hellified rendition of Rick James’ “Mary Jane”) to their mainstay, Afro-Cuban rock. Not recommended for anyone with a pacemaker, they will easily stretch a song out for as long as 15 minutes with not a single person in the crowd being able to pull themselves off the dance floor. Then they’ll turn right around and do another one just as marathon-like. In short, these boys came to play. Until they come out with a live album, though, don’t look for that kind of durability on their discs.

Their self-titled debut, ranging from the glistening, profoundly sexy pop of “Bring Me Down” to the bawdy New Orleans-style “Bangkok Ellie,” put them on the map more than 10 years ago. Taking the philosophy of it being better to do things right than right now truly to heart, it has taken until now to follow it up with AmericaNomad, again putting their eclectic mix to full effect.

Leader, founder and front man Stanley Kipper (timbales, traps, vocals) is joined by his longtime partner Chico Perez (conga, percussion), Joel Schaan (vocals, guitar), Daryk Narum (sax), Matt Stevens (bass), Park Evans (guitar) and Bruce Jackson (piano). Kipper (SK) gave an interview with MSR by email.

MSR: Last time we spoke, about a year ago, the new album was going to come out “in a few weeks.”

SK: It [was] definitely close. Snow [producer-saxaphonist Brian “Snowman” Powers”] had to record the hook for “Sally Go Round the Roses.” Park was going to add his guitar to the ballad “Holding On to Yesterday.” then it was going to be finished. We had started final mixes, though. Things take time sometimes.

MSR: I’ll say. You went from Valentine’s Day ages ago to what you called “a possible Christmas [or] January New Year 2011 present from us to the world” to March of this year. What took so long?

SK: First, we had tech problems. All of the tracks got dumped in some kind of massive electrical computer malfunction that wiped the hard drive clean of all of our stuff. It was a shocking and terrifying day to say the least. We were like five or six tracks in. We were all like, “What the [expletive]?” The upside of it all was that everything we re-tracked came out so much better, it made us wonder what we were listening to earlier.

We also moved to a new studio that Snow had built. We had personnel changes during that making of the CD, got rid of some people and added some others. Along with that, we recorded some new songs.

The coolest thing is that Bruce Jackson, who we didn’t think was going to be around the planet much longer — [he has] mesothelioma [that’s] now in remission — came back and played like only he can. I felt truly blessed to be in the room with him while he was doing the thing.

And then, of course, the usual Snowman-New Primitive scheduling and production delays. We were in town but not at the same time. We were out there running [touring], you know what I mean.

MSR: Did Snow produce this CD?

SK: Yes he did. I jumped in for some of it as well, but it was mostly Snow: the Brian Wilson of the New Primitive recording vibe!

MSR: Do you think about a solo album?

SK: Yes, I do. I would like to think I would have the time to do it. I am pretty busy with New Primitives right now. But at some point, I will take a look at the vibe and see what’s up.

MSR: What’s next for New Prims?

SK: I want to start working — rehearsing for the next New Primitives CD right now. We [worked] on Nomads for so long, we all got new songs! We are going to go back in the studio to start working on [another new album]. So, it looks like more of the same. Our story is still being written, I guess.


New Primitives’ music is available at local music stores and For more information about the band and their new CD, go to

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.