The Power of Funk: How Tayo Branston Found His Tribe Through the Passion for Percussion

Tayo Branston is the drummer and lead vocalist for Five Alarm Funk. This eight piece, heavy-duty funk band are over the top, exaggerated with a reputation for wild concerts with costume changes, outrageous props, and bringing people together for a hot, sweaty, dancing frenzy. With seemingly endless energy, infectious enthusiasm and explosive talent, Tayo is responsible for laying down a thumping beat, the backbone that drives the band’s larger than life sound.

Tayo first fell in love with the drums as a kid. “I just think that primal kind of instinct of wanting to play and wanting to be percussive with something—it’s got to be the oldest instrument out there, from playing rocks together to smashing coconuts. I think rhythm is embedded in everybody. I think rhythm is something that kind of moves people. You walk to a rhythm, you talk to a rhythm. I think … that’s embedded in all humans to have a rhythm; a rhythm of life and a rhythm in sound, a rhythm with whatever you do.”

“I never had the aspiration to be a policeman or an astronaut or anything like that. I always was very in tune and focused on being a musician. I’ve had to have supplemental jobs to build my career as a musician, but I always had that drive and persistence of wanting to be this full-time musician, wanting to live that life, where you can create and you can be happy and you can have a very art and culture-based kind of lifestyle.

“The music industry is a very difficult industry. The amount of competition out there that are vying for that one spot, or whatever it may be. I’ve been a lucky one to have support for what I want to do and people that believe in me. I think maybe that comes from believing in myself that I can do it and just wanting it so bad.”

The band started in 2003 as funk-loving friends jamming at house parties. House parties turned into local club gigs, which lead to tours across North America and international gigs, albums and a still growing tribe of loyal Five Alarm Funk fans. Tayo credits the band’s success to teamwork, collaboration, sheer determination, willpower and the positive power of funk music.

“Teamwork and collaboration are probably the most important thing that it takes for a band to be successful. You have to have a unit that is all kind of driving towards the same purpose and actually really want to be there. Being one singular entity instead of a fragmented group is super critical to putting on an excellent concert, to being a fundamentally successful band, to getting together and rehearsing all the time, you have to believe that this one thing is greater than all these other little things.”

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