P-Funk all-star and cosmic explorer George Clinton tells it like it is…
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George Clinton, ‘Atomic Dog’ (1982)
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Don’t Be Naïve
“If I could start all over but with what I know now… You know people are crooked – you hear that all the time – but you don’t [expect to be ripped off]. I would remember in my head to pay a lot of attention to what I’m doing. Even though I’m doing it, I’m gonna make sure I write it down, keep notes on everything everybody said and promised, so if I get beat, at least I have a good history of it.”
“Hell, that ain’t never been an option. Quitting and retiring and all that shit? No. To me, without humps there’d be no getting over.”
Learn To Evolve
“I wasn’t the best singer when I first started, but you learn. Everybody eventually learns. I wasn’t going along for the ride – I was intending to be Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Burt Bacharach, The Beatles, all of that. I love people that wrote songs. I got into that part of it, so I pretty much knew about everybody’s history and styles, so no, I wasn’t gonna stay still. I was growing.”
Keep An Eye On The Horizon
“As rock ‘n’ roll took over from Motown, I saw that coming. I said, ‘Wow, ‘Spoonful’ from Cream? That’s the music my mother used to listen to! So they doing blues now?’ And then they’re doing rock ‘n’ roll. But what they wasn’t doing was funk. They could do fast rock ‘n’ roll or they could do the blues, but that mid-tempo was pretty much left to R&B. So we just turned the volume up on it. Loud as hell, with Marshalls and shit. So now you got a new music that’s been here all the time but never this loud.”
Bide Your Time
“The Temptations, the mainframe bubblegum version of it, they got it from us! I gave [their producer] Norman Whitfield Sly [Stone’s] album, and so between us and Sly, that was the whole Temptations ‘Cloud Nine’ and everything. They used to come to us and tell me, ‘George, you know Norman cut that [a groove like yours] last night. We just want to tell you.’ I didn’t care. I was onto something and I knew sooner or later it would be my turn.”
Stand Out From The Crowd
“With us it was like 10 Jimi Hendrixs up there. You got 10 n*ggers up there, louder than a mother*cker. That’s scary! And with diapers on. And psychedelic [music] was only for a few people to get into that underground clique – even the white pop groups couldn’t get into that. As soon as you got hit records you couldn’t be that. We were the underground-est of the underground groups back in the beginning of Funkadelic. We didn’t want to get out of that. We did ‘Free Your Ass And Your Mind Will Follow’. We went further. See, we came from Motown, which did records neat, clean and polished. We had to actually go in there and say, ‘We gonna f*ck this up.’ Turned the volume up, and the engineer is going crazy. There’s people that like that essence of that raw[ness] – we just went in there and jammed. That was basically just my instincts – knowing that we were already late coming into psychedelic. In ’69, we was already late, so we had to catch up. ‘Let’s do it better than they done it before. Let’s do it louder, crazier, more fuzz, feedback…’”
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As told to Simon Harper
Related: more Rock And Rules features.
Related: read our longer interview with George, looking into his legal battles, here.
George’s autobiography is published in April, while a reality TV show, The Clintons, is due soon.