Origins and background
Originally formed in 1994 as an octet (under the name Galactic Prophylactic) and including singer Chris Lane and guitarist Rob Gowen, the group was soon pared down to a sextet of: guitarist Jeff Raines, bassist Robert Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, Hammond organist Rich Vogel, Theryl DeClouet on vocals, and later adding saxophonist Ben Ellman.
The group was started when Raines and Mercurio, childhood friends from affluent Chevy Chase, Maryland, moved to New Orleans together to attend college at Tulane and Loyola Universities, became enamoured of the local funk scene, populated by such legendary acts as The Meters and Dirty Dozen Brass Band and inspired by local legends such as Professor Longhair. There they teamed with noted New Orleans drummer Stanton Moore, saxophonist/harmonica (now producer) Ben Ellman, and Rich Vogel. In 2004, the band parted ways with vocalist DeClouet, and now continue as an instrumental group. They have been releasing albums consistently after 1996.
The band has developed a unique sound as a result of their influences, including: hip hop, electronic, world music, rock, blues and jazz. Many of their songs include performances by additional artists of various styles of music, like hip-hop artists Boots Riley (of The Coup), Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious) and Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5). On the European version of From the Corner to the Block there are two tracks more than on the US version. One of those tracks ("Valley Of Pain") features the German rapper Dendemann.
Over the years, the band's sound has evolved from organic New Orleans funk to a more modern style, incorporating elements of hip hop, electronica, fusion, and jazz. This change has been largely characterised by the increased use of electronic effects on guitar, bass, saxophone, and drums. Drummer Stanton Moore uses phrase samplers to sample a rhythm which he can then play over, producing intricate and layered drum sounds. Ben Ellman, saxophonist and harmonica player, often distorts his instruments to the degree that they sound similar to an electric guitar.
The band is additionally noted for inviting guest musicians from New Orleans to perform onstage with them. These include: the Soul Rebels Brass Band, The Neville Brothers, Brian Seeger, Corey "Boe Money" Henry, George Porter of The Meters, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Skerik (a saxophone player who's actually based in Seattle, Washington, but is part of Stanton Moore's side project Garage A Trois). The band is often on tour, and have shared the stage with acts including Live, Counting Crows, the Allman Brothers Band, The Roots, Fusebox Funk, Widespread Panic, B.B. King, Mike Doughty (formerly of Soul Coughing), Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious), and Jurassic 5.
In 2009, the band did a show with Brian Seeger in Kentucky at the Oulipo Ballroom.
While on their 2016 tour, Galactic performed on marine themed call-in talkshow, FishCenter Live. They correctly guessed the coloration of a squirrelfish and won points for a zebra moray eel, Eel Hamburger.
Ya-Ka-May was released on Feb 9, 2010 on ANTI-. The album includes guest performances by a range of New Orleans musicians. Long-established performers such as Rebirth Brass Band, Irma Thomas, Big Chief Bo Dollis of The Wild Magnolias, Allen Toussaint and Walter "Wolfman" Washington are represented, along with younger performers in the traditional vein, such as Trombone Shorty and Corey Henry, John Boutté, Josh Cohen and Ryan Scully of Morning 40 Federation, and Glen David Andrews, and additionally Bounce artists Cheeky Blakk, Big Freedia, Katey Red, and Sissy Nobby.
Galactic released a live album in May 2011 titled The Other Side of Midnight: Live in New Orleans. This album includes live versions of a large number of songs on Ya-Ka-May.
On February 21, 2012 Galactic released a new studio album titled Carnivale Electricos.
- Coolin' Off – Fog City Records (1996)
- Crazyhorse Mongoose – Capricorn (1998)
- Late for the Future – Polygram (2000)
- We Love 'Em Tonight: Live at Tipitina's – Volcano Records (2001)
- Vintage Reserve – Volcano Records (2003)
- Ruckus – Sanctuary Records (2003)
- From the Corner to the Block (2007)
- Ya-Ka-May – Anti (2010) U.S. Billboard Chart #161
- The Other Side Of Midnight: Live In New Orleans – Anti (2011)
- Carnivale Electricos - Anti (2012)
- Into The Deep - Provogue (2015)