Listen to an interview and brand-new song from Morris Day

Morris Day and the Time performing in 2020
Morris Day and The Time perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
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Interview: Morris Day
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As Purple Current marks the end of Daylight Saving Time with 25 Hours of The Time, host Sean McPherson connected with legendary frontman Morris Day, who shares some stories about his career and also talks about the new song, "Cooler Than Santa Claus," a funky holiday number making its Purple Current debut today.

Listen to the interview above, and below, read a transcript and listen to the new song.

Interview Transcript

SEAN McPHERSON: You are tuning to Purple Current, 25 Hours of The Time, and we are about to be talking with the man of the hour or — should I say it? — the man of the 25 hours and a true legend for his entire lifetime and far beyond that if I predict correctly. We are on the phone with Mr. Morris Day. Morris, thank you so much for taking some time out of your Sunday to chat with Purple Current.

MORRIS DAY: Hey, what time is it, Sean? You know, I couldn't resist showing up on the 25-hour day! (laughs)

Well, we couldn't resist turning this into a bit of a tradition here at Purple Current because there are some artists where the quantity of music is just such that spending the day with the music is one oof the most joyous opportunities in the world, and Morris, I've got to say the legacy you've laid down as a solo artist and also what you did with the Time, it's just — it is so wildly funky and such a great way to spend 25 hours — heck, it's a great way to spend 100 hours — but I 've got to ask, how did you make such a vanguard moment in the history of music? There really wasn't something like the Time before the Time. I know you had your influences, but what influenced you to create this totally new vision of funk music?

Well, you know, it was really a combination of things. It was like you said, the influences. It was growing up in Minneapolis, which was sort of an odd place for us just because of our funk background, you know, and we had to go to the local mom-and-pop record stores and get the new Funkadelic records and all of that kind of stuff. And you know, the pop influences, listening to the pop radio. And then hooking up with Prince as a young teenager; you know, he and Andre Cymone and these guys were so damn serious about it, man, it changed my whole attitude. And we got together, man, and we started playing, jamming, and you know, and when we started actually cutting stuff, from the first moment we started cutting songs, which was early on in our career as Grand Central, we had great songs! And so it was just a matter of time before we hit the airwaves with some innovative music, man.

Well, what's really impressive — I'm pretty familiar with the background of a lot of these musicians you're speaking of, yourself included, from the 1970s — what's really impressive is, given that a lot of that education was having other local musicians but also going and buying the Funkadelic records and going and buying the James Brown records, there are things you can study about what happens on those records. But what about onstage, Morris? Where did you learn to become a world-class frontperson, stepping out from behind the drumkit and suddenly — well, maybe it's not suddenly — but how did you become the frontman you are today?

Well, you know, first of all, I can't help but say, Sean, it's in the book! (laugh) But honestly, it was just, you know, as I said in the book, I explained where Prince wanted me to be the lead singer. We had tried so many lead singers for the Time, including Alexander O'Neill; he was supposed to be the guy. And he wanted more money than we had, and it just wasn't destined to be that way. So, you know, Prince said, "Man, you do it!" And I said, "I can't lead up the band. I'm not a lead singer. So what do I do?" And he said, "Just be cool. Put your hand in your pocket, and be cool."

And that's what I did, man, and if you watch that cool video, my hand really never comes out of my pocket that first video. But then things started to happen, man: We got out on the road, and you know, I started to learn a little bit about what the crowd like, and started feeling myself a little bit, you know, and just started to add to my repertoire, man, and before I knew it, I believe I became a full-fledged frontman.

The Time performing at the Grammys
Morris Day and Jerome Benton of The Time perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Oh, I mean, there's no doubt. If you were talking about legendary frontpeople in history, you are on that list, Morris, because the way you put it down onstage — I've had the honor of seeing you live a number of times — great in the studio, but it's a completely different beast live because you know exactly how to keep the audience in the palm of your hand.

Amen.

And honestly, it's not bad in the studio, and that's why we're playing 25 hours of it, right? There's a lot of groups we're not playing 25 hours of, but the Time and Morris Day's solo output is not one of them; you guys are legendary, and it is really cool to be talking to you right now on this day where we are playing exclusively your music. Now Morris, I want to ask a question about legacy. Your story is not done; you continue to release music. In fact, we're about to make the Purple Current debut, after this conversation, of "Cooler than Santa Claus," but before we talk about that, I want to talk about the legacy of the fact that true legends of the generation after yours reach out to you to connect with you on tracks. I'm thinking about E-40. I'm thinking about Snoop Dogg. I'm thinking about these people who clearly studied your moves, your style, your vibe, and now they're continuing that on. A) how does that feel, and B) when you connect with those people, what's it like?

First of all, it's the highest form of flattery, man, just to know that these younger people were listening and taking notes and digging what they were hearing, and you know, and it's always cool, the love that they show. You know, when I finally hooked up with Snoop, went to his compound, and he showed me his wall of heroes, so to speak, and there was like James Brown and Marvin Gaye and Bootsy [Collins] — all the top people you can think of — and I was on that mural, man, and it was a really cool thing to see. And it's always cool to meet the people, the younger guys, and hear their stories about how they came up and how they were digging what we did, and it's just really cool to hear, man.

You are listening to Purple Current, 25 Hours of The Time, and we are chatting with the legend, Morris Day. Now while we're on the topic of you connecting with Snoop Dogg, did you guys compare shoe collections? Does he got you beat for Stacy Adams?

We didn't get to that, man! (laughs) But I'm sure Snoop has a nice collection of Stacys, and so do I. I'm transitioning to the Morris Days these days; I've got my own shoe line I'm working on, so you know, he might have me beat on Stacys, but I've got him beat on Morris Days right now! (laughs)

Well, that's very fair, and you are a tireless entrepreneur, and that's something that I've seen coming out of Minneapolis musicians for a long time as folks who want to make sure that if what they can control, they're going to control and try to get the money moving in their own channels, and I think that's a really great lesson that you can also see folks, especially like E-40 have, because E-40 is somebody who has charted his own career for so long, and you have done the same. Speaking of your career, tell me a little bit about this tune we're about to debut on Purple Current. I just checked it out when I connected with your assistant Arlington who just sort of reached out and said, "You gotta play this tune." It's really funky. It's got all the signatures of a great Morris Day tune. Tell me about making the tune and getting something out for Christmas 2020.

Well, you know, it just started as an idea. My manager and business associate Courtney Benson, said, "You know, MD, you should make a Christmas record."

I said, "Man, I don't know about that."

But anyway, after I thought about that, I thought that might be a good idea. So we went into the laboratory and got all the guys we work with busy working on a track and came up with something really funky, and then we just started to layer it, man, and one thing after another and before you know it — and also, it's really the first time I've used a horn section. Just to top it off, I said, "Let's get some funky horns on here." So we put the horns on it, man, and before you know it, it felt Christmassy. But it felt like Morris Day, but it was funky and it was everything we wanted it to be, man! So it was just one of them things that was meant to happen. So that's what it is. And why it is! (laughs)

Let me tell you, Morris, as a radio programmer, if you've got a good Christmas tune, that's some mailbox money every year because you're always filling up those couple days of going, "What are we playing that's got a little sleigh bells on it, that's going to feel right around that time of year." So now you've entered that part of the music catalogue, and that's a pretty smart part to be in. And you're right: The song is really, really funky, and you are still absolutely on point. And that's why we're celebrating your music, that's why we're celebrating your legacy. And Morris, I've got one more request of you, but first I want to say, I haven't said it yet: Thank you. You made a whole new lane of music. You made some of the greatest funk music of all time, and you are an ultimate showman. It is such an honor to get to talk to you. And it is such an honor to get to play your music year round, but especially on this day when we dig in and play 25 hours of it.

Hey, Sean, I can't appreciate that any more than I do. And I'll tell you, Purple Current, I appreciate the audience. Brother Sean, I appreciate you, man. And this 25=hour thing is awesome. I appreciate the love.

And now I've got one request: If anything happens with Monte [Moir, keyboardist] at all, if he ever gets a little sore or if he's tired and wants to get off the road, it's my dream to be the one white dude in the time, and if that slot comes up, Arlington has my information, I don't even play keyboard, I play bass, but if it ever comes up — it's all jokes here, but you guys are such legends, and I'm so thankful to celebrate you all.

Hey, appreciate you, man. Appreciate it.

All right, Morris, we're going to keep on bumping your music. We're going to right now play this tune, "Cooler Than Santa Claus," it's out now, it's new Morris Day, and it's here on Purple Current, 25 Hours Of The Time.

Yessss! Check it out, y'all.

External Link

The Time - official site

1 Photos

  • Morris Day and the Time performing in 2020
    Morris Day and The Time perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)