Five Miles Up: Find out who funk rocker Ivan Neville texts from the tarmac

Bekah Wright

Neville. The name brings to mind New Orleans royalty; a lineage of killer music skills leading to tours that spread the love. Such is the case for Ivan Neville. Recently, he’s been on the road with his band Dumpstaphunk, breaking out songs from their latest album, “Dirty Word.” Neville describes the cuts as “…a little bit of everything from straight up funk; a little woozy, soulful stuff; rockin’ tracks… all with some stank on it.” Hear about his travel experiences, and it’s easy to imagine whence he draws inspiration.

What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
When you’ve been out on the road touring for a while, your jeans and t-shirts start overlapping, so lots of spare clean underwear, undershirts and socks are important.

Carry-on or check-in?
I check in. I travel with a lot of toiletries because you might be staying in a five-star hotel one night and a 2 ½-star the next, so you have to be prepared. We’ve had a night where we showed up at a hotel arranged by a show promoter that was so bad, the band chose to sleep in the van.

Window or aisle?
An exit row without a seat in front, so there's lots of legroom.

What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
I travel all the time, so a vacation that involves lying around and doing nothing sounds perfect. I’d stay in a great hotel room with a good bed from which I can look out the window and see some beautiful scenery but never have to go outside.

Biggest regret you've ever had while on vacation.
The times I’ve decided to sleep in instead of going out and seeing things.

The one thing you're willing to splurge on when traveling above all else.
Every now and again, depending on how tired I am or how far I’ve traveled, room service.

What’s the worst annoyance you’ve experienced while traveling?
I took a flight from Seattle to New York. It started off with a 40-minute delay, followed by sitting on the tarmac for another hour. When we landed in New York, we taxied for an hour, then sat at the gate for another hour. Mark White from the Spin Doctors and I started texting. He’d also just landed from a long flight and was stuck on the runway. He texted that he was the only person of color on the plane. I looked around and so was I. Suddenly, two police officers came onboard. My text: “Uh, oh! Somebody’s busted!” Mark texted back that he was bored. As the police took this girl off, I responded, “Me, too, but at least I ain’t goin’ to jail!” Instead of getting to my hotel by 8 p.m., it was midnight. Yep, I ordered room service.

Where’s your favorite destination for performing?
Home in New Orleans. The people there are great, they join in and it’s a fun time. I also love playing in San Francisco, New York, Chicago… everywhere.

Ever try a food you wished you hadn't?
Yeeeaahhh. I had it once and I’ve never eaten it again — that frickin’ sea urchin. It’s like eating fishy butter. It was served to me during a business dinner in Japan. I was told to eat whatever was sent your way. If I could’ve, I would have bent down, grabbed a napkin and relieved myself of it.

Favorite hotel you've ever stayed in?
The Roger in New York, the Ritz-Carlton in Boston and the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. Not quite as elegant, but a cool little spot, is The Quality Inn in Petaluma, California. There’s a casino across the parking lot. Oh! And Harrah’s in Reno.

Favorite restaurant you’ve discovered while traveling.
Ichiban in Harrah’s in Reno.

Three songs of your album “Dirty Word” that are great for traveling?

“Dancin’ to the Truth,” “If I’m in Luck” and “Take Time.”

Where would you take someone visiting your hometown of New Orleans for the first time?
If they’ve got a day, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz for a Snoball, then Domilise’s to split a Po-Boy, then Mahoney’s for a hot sausage sandwich. For dinner, Jacques Imo’s Café. Or, if it’s a Tuesday, Shogun’s on Veterans Memorial Boulevard; it’s not your typical New Orleans joint, but it’s awesome. Then we’d go to some clubs — the Maple Leaf for a minute and Tipitina’s.

You only get one more trip in your lifetime. Where will it be?
Italy. Something about that place…