The Phunk Junkeez used to enjoy performing in warehouses, with beer flowing and the party thumping.
Actually, they still do. But these days they're doing it legally and not necessarily by choice.
"All those warehouses we first used when we were first starting out, all the bars and clubs have been refurbished, just in the past five years or so," says Junkeez frontman Soulman. "So we do things, but now they're more open and we're able to promote them."
In a way, it's almost unfortunate. The Arizona-based Junkeez started as a preeminent underground, trip-hop/rock/funk, white-boy, overzealous-DJs-trying-to-be-rock-stars punk party band. They were Phoenix's very own Beastie Boys.
Their shows were often promoted exclusively via word-of-mouth. The band would find an abandoned warehouse, clear it out, set up a stage, buy a few kegs, charge at the door and start playing for anybody who was lucky enough to find them. The crowd numbers would routinely reach the hundreds before fizzling when the cops would inevitably arrive.
"The cops would show up and everyone would get out of there," Soulman says. "We'd just play the ignorant musician card, like, "Yeah we're looking for our promoter, too. If you see him, tell him we want our money.' Then we'd all meet up at Taco Bell and count the earnings."
It was all so unofficial, kind of like the way in which the Phunk Junkeez formed. At an early solo show, Soulman found himself on the same bill as a band whose lead singer was, by Soulman's definition, a "drunk." Soulman saw an opportunity.
"After the show I asked if they wanted to play with me, and they said "Yeah,'" Soulman says. "So I stole this singer's band."
That band included bassist Jumbo Jim and DJ Roachclip. With Soulman on board, they became the Junkeez. Together, they quickly built a local reputation, then in 1992 released their self-titled debut. Since then, they've recorded five other albums, including their latest, Hydro Phonic.
"I'd say it's a collaboration," Soulman says. "This album is more of just everything we've done. We've stayed to the roots of what we've done. We had a lot of fun and wrote a lot for it, so we put only the good stuff on it. I think it's a better blend of stuff than anything we've done. We've got a little punk, funk, rock, hip-hop."
By their own admission, the Phunk Junkeez don't pummel you over the head with deep, existential lyrics or sound. Not that anyone would accuse them of it, anyway.
But what they do offer in their music is sincerity and a good time.
"We're putting the parties back into the shows," Soulman says. "So many bands aren't doing that any more. That's what gives us an edge. We just don't have to deal with cops chasing us now."
Phunk Junkeez with 5280, Small Town Nothing, Our Funeral Forgotten and The Brew Crew
Union Station, 2419 N. Union Blvd.
Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $10 for 21-plus, $20 under 21; call 227-7168 for more info.