When Morris Day takes the stage, he still likes to party like it’s 1984. That’s the year the frontman for The Time burst onto the national scene, through his role as Prince’s musical and personal nemesis in “Purple Rain” and biggest hit “Jungle Love.”
“It’s almost like, irregardless of how I’m feeling, once the band fires up the first note, we just go there,” says Day, who performs 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City.
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“It’s hard to not be in a good mood once the music starts playing.”
Over the past 30 years, Day has gone mostly solo, with brief reunions with the original seven members of The Time, including for the 2011 album “Condensate.”
Throughout, he has built up a catalog of dance-fueled hits, including The Time’s “Get It Up,” “Cool” and “Jerk Out,” and solo hits such as “Color of Success,” “Fishnet” and “Daydreaming.”
Day also has appeared in movies with Prince (“Graffiti Bridge”) and without (“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”), while mostly focusing on his live performances.
Before coming back to Atlantic City, Day talks about how “Purple Rain” changed his life and gets real about what it was like to know — and work with — Prince.
Q: You’re performing with two other original members of The Time — Monte Moir and Jellybean Johnson — but not the rest of the lineup. Are there any plans to get back together with the remaining four members, who last toured as The Original 7ven?
A: I kind of like doing what I do with Morris Day and The Time. We bring the party. That’s how I’d rather roll these days. It’s a little painful working with all the original members. We have a lot of chiefs.
Q: This year marks the 30th anniversary of “Purple Rain.” What was it like for you to make the movie and experience the hype that went along with it?
A: It was an incredible time. It was all innocent. It was like, “Hey guys, we’re going to make a movie.” We looked up and we were doing a movie. We had no expectations about it. We had never done anything like that before. It all kind of took off and it went crazy.
Q: How much of the flamboyant character you play is really you and how much is fictional?
A: I was definitely like him back then. But you know things have changed, and I don’t necessarily live the life like I did back then. I was living, eating, breathing and sleeping it.
Now I can turn it on and off — now I have the off switch.
Q: Prince, with his various alter-egos and public stances, is still a bit of a mystery. As someone who was a member of his band and knew him from the beginning, how would you describe him?
A: He’s a musical genius and he’s an a--hole, and back then he was a friend, so he was all of those wrapped in one package. It was really great to see how he could create back then. We would sit up in the studio and fire up a drumbeat — I used to play drums on almost everything. We would start with bass and drums, and at the end of the day, we would have a great song. It was pretty amazing to see how he could come up with stuff. He’s a complicated individual to know as a friend, but it was all good. It was a great experience in my life — I learned a lot.
Q: What’s next for you — do you want to do more acting or stick with your music?
A: Life has taught me that I’m not an actor. I didn’t like the work part of it. I didn’t like getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning, and getting on set, and hurry up and get ready. It’s a lot of work — I don’t like to work. If somebody calls me and wants to do something in particular, and it sounds good, and it’s not too time-consuming, I’ll do it. I’m a musician — that’s what I love and that’s how I got in this whole game. I’m fortunate to be out here and people still dig what I do.