For more than 30 years, Morris Day has brought his blend of R&B, soul, funk and a frenetic stage presence to audiences across the country.
Day got his start performing alongside high-school friend Prince and became the lead vocalist of his own band — Morris Day and The Time — in the early ’80s. The band’s biggest hits — “Jungle Love” and “The Bird” — came off the album Ice Cream Castle released in July 1984, and Day garnered renown of his own later that month for his role as the foil to Prince’s The Kid in the movie “Purple Rain.”
The band broke up that same year, but Day continued to perform as a solo act and reunited with The Time in the late ’90s. They have performed at venues across the country since, and even made a cameo in the 2001 film “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”
Morris Day and The Time will perform Nov. 22 at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.
Q: Your stage presence has a lot of energy to it. How do you keep that going?
A: I save my energy; I’m pretty low-key in my regular life. So when I get on stage, I can hit the “on” switch, and I’ve got the reserve I can tap into. … You get to my age, you have to keep things in check.
Q: You took a few years off in mid ‘90s. What’s it like to be back on the road playing?
A: The time off [helped] me reconnect with the music. For a while I was doing the acting and doing different things; I felt like I was getting burnt [out], I didn’t want to go out and tour and do stuff like that. So that time off made me realize how much I really still loved the music, and it made me more thankful once we did put the band together and get out there and the phone started ringing, and it’s been ringing ever since. It makes me not take it for granted.
Q: Who has influenced your stage presence?
A: James Brown was a big influence, Elvis, somebody more standout, people like that I used to watch.
Q: It’s interesting the top artists now try to emphasize the show rather than the music they perform.
A: It’s true. When you think about it, that’s their main revenue. I don’t think records are yielding the average artist that much money anymore. But they get out there and redirect the money into their pocket instead of into the records or the record company.
Q: What do you think of the current state of your genres, especially R&B and soul?
A: I don’t really think that musicianship is the focal point anymore; it’s more about the electronics and the artist, rapper, singer, whatever. I stand accused of using computers to make music; if the power went out, I can still go in there and pick up an instrument and finish the song. If my computer crashes, I can still go finish it off and make it sound just as good, if not better. That’s where I think the industry is lacking now, which is what makes it hard for me to follow.
It’s not dependent on anything. Of course we need the electricity, but if it goes out, we’ll still be playing. You might not hear it, but we’ll still be going.
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