Baha Men still letting out great hits

Ashley Winward

As a graduating senior, I’ve found myself reminiscing more often than I’d like to admit. Thinking about college memories, yearning for every throwback Thursday…you could imagine my surprise when I was contacted by a band that asked the quintessential question of all our childhoods: who let the dogs out?
I had the chance this past week to talk to Dyson Knight, one of the current singers of the Baha Men about their sound, its roots and how the band has evolved over the years.

baha men
The Baha Men are proud of their Bahamian roots, which they let shine through their music (AP photo)

The band is very proud of their Bahamian roots and it shines through their music, which is classified under the genre junkanoo. Knight explained, “We [the Bahamian people] inherited that from Africa, its African drum work. It’s the drum patterns that we use for celebration. We use the junkanoo music for a time, around the Christmas season, when back in slavery days, the slaves were allowed to be north of the capital, what they called over the hill, and be allowed to be free, barter gifts, interact with one another, socialize in an area that slaves weren’t allowed to be. This would happen twice per year, Boxing Day which is the day after Christmas and New Year’s. They would have a celebration that would start at midnight, 1 a.m. and go straight until sun up. It would be a parade of people dancing in the street; they would use the goat skin drums and cow bells and whistles just to have a wonderful celebration and that’s the birth of junkanoo music. That’s why it has the energy it does. It’s about celebration, it’s about being thankful, and it’s about being free.”

This fast and upbeat music has an infectious quality that has taken them all over the world. What’s most surprising is that the band’s biggest following comes from Japan. “Asia on the whole, they like that happy music. I shouldn’t say happy that makes it sound very bubble gum, upbeat music. They like high energy music that moves them even if they may not want to move. Especially in more structured societies, in Japan they’re very structured so to hear music that’s explosive, that’s full of life they wrap around it. That’s why we did so well in Japan, we have such a high energy show.”

Their high energy show is one of the things that has kept them a crowd favorite for 35 years now. Having an “older band” Dyson feels is more of a strength to the band than a weakness.

“The band is older, and the band is known for high energy performances but like myself there are new members mainly the members that would be expected to have the most energy. For example, our drummer, he is new, I’m new, and so we still put on a real rocking show. I would say the number of years we have, only season the band further being able to interact with a wider audience. There’s a lot of experience behind the band now.”

With 30 years of music, it’s hard to believe some may only know them from their smash hit, “Who Let the Dogs Out.” However the Baha Men don’t believe in that one hit wonder stigma.

“Rik Carey he had a phase when he wanted to lash out and fight against the whole ‘Okay we’re tired of Who Let the Dogs Out’ but I think everyone understands and accepts now. 15 years later “Who Let the Dogs Out” is still being licensed, still playing in big arenas, still playing at shows and there are songs like that. The money song for example (cue Donald Trump), it’s just timeless, “Just Got Paid”, they’re just timeless epic songs and “Who Let the Dogs Out” is one of those songs. When you have a song like that, people only remember that song. We don’t try to stop the fact that it’s one of our biggest songs.” If you’d like to know who in fact let the dogs out, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, “The answer’s usually ‘I don’t know’ or ‘It’s top secret’ something very finicky and cliché and sassy.” However if you’d like to know, Knight believes that if he had a dollar for every reporter who asked them that question, “Well I’d be able to fly to any part of the world with that kind of money, be able to pick up a few islands along the way, purchase a few mansions, probably start my own civilization, I could do a lot with that kind of money for sure. “

The Band has a new album out called Ride with Me which ranges. A really good example of this is the single “Night and Day;” there’s a video on YouTube for it that you can check out and it was featured on the Fifa world cup album. They’re also rebooting their social media presence so you can check them out on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Give their new record a spin and cruise into summer feeling like you’re down in the Bahamas.