TAUK Interview

Live Music Daily & TAUK

Join Forces Friday in Tampa

LiveMusicDaily is pleased to be a part of the upcoming show with TAUK in Tampa, FL on Friday May 8th at Crowbar with special local guests, Displace. For more information on the event check out our Concert Preview.

Andrew McConnell of LiveMusicDaily recently spoke with the members of TAUK regarding their strides in 2014, music festivals, Collisions, the group’s philosophical approach to making music, and more.

You are touring now more than ever. From a musical perspective what do you think were the best strides you made together last year?

Touring as much as we did last year has really started to pay off from a musical perspective. We are getting more comfortable at adapting to different types of rooms as a band. We’ve been put in so many different situations at this point that we know how to shape our sets to best fit wherever we are. There are always differences: set time, indoor vs. outdoor, size of the room, what the sound is like. The more we tour, the more experience we get as a band playing in these different environments. And playing so many shows has allowed us to just get tighter in general. 

On a personal level, how has being friends off-stage chasing the dream on the road made you all closer in a way that, in turn, allows you to have a deeper connection on stage?

We’ve known each other a very long time and it really feels like things are finally taking the direction we’ve always wanted. We’ve really been through a lot off stage and as friends and there’s no better feeling than knowing that all the time we’ve put in is starting to make a difference. Accomplishing what we have as a team so far has been incredible and it just makes us want to try that much harder and put that much more into it. And all of that pay off comes together on stage. When we’re on stage in front of a great crowd and the energy is right and we know we’re locked in it’s the best feeling in the world, because all of the time and effort we’ve put in is for those exact moments. 

I’m sure you’re excited about the many festival bills you’re on for this summer and you’ve discussed those special moments in several interviews. Which festivals are you most looking forward to as a fan of music?

Answering this, we just got out of New Orleans after playing Jazz Fest which was pretty overwhelming in terms of how much good music there was everywhere you turned. It was really amazing being able to go to the festival and see all those bands and then head into town and not even know where you wanted to go because there was so much happening. Getting to see Primus, The Word, The Motet, The Main Squeeze, Lettuce, Break Science, all within a matter of days is not normal.

Your most recent album, Collisions, is an accurate depiction of your live sound while also carrying the beauty of the studio setting. This was a very well executed record and that style really made sense for your sophomore release when looking at the context of your career. What do you think the approach will be like for the next studio record?

Right now the next record is just an idea. We have a lot of touring to do this year and are in the midst of writing new songs as we go so that when next year rolls around we’ll have plenty of material to choose from. But we know we want to try something different, but don’t have any specifics nailed down yet. There’s a lot going through my mind when thinking about the next record and how we should approach it. Anything from a change of location to using different instruments and textures, how the songs will flow. We’ve been throwing a lot around and as the year goes on we’ll start to hone in our ideas and go in with the approach we want.

What tactics do you want to keep?

Capturing the sound of the band interacting. Collisions felt like we really were able to show how we can respond to each other musically and everybody was able to showcase what they bring while still lending to the song first. 

What would you want to do differently to make this album the most ambitious to date?

The next album needs to be a step forward. It always does. We’ve already begun writing new material for the album and I get a feeling that based on what we have so far, the songs themselves are gonna put us in a position to try new things. 

Will you want to come in from the road with all of the momentum from extensive touring and have the arrangements done ahead of time?

It’s hard to say yet how much of the arrangement will be done ahead of time. While we want to head into the studio as prepared as possible, we know that there has to be room for experimenting and letting things happen spontaneously. But knowing that you’re heading in with a certain goal and plan can really help those moments happen more because you know you’re where you need to be and feel more comfortable letting loose. Carrying the momentum from the road into the studio always helps though. When you leave the road you want to leave feeling like you’ve said what you need to say for the time being and can lock yourself away and just focus on the record.

(For Charlie) You’ve noted that in middle school You, Matt, and AC played Classic Rock and your fascination with more experimental type acts would grow over time. What musician has had the most significant influence on you? Who do you find to be inspirational strictly based upon the way they philosophically approach your instrument (can be any musician, not just a bassist)? Similarly, who would you cite as the most influential strictly from a stylistic standpoint?

From Charlie: “I would say Jaco Pastorius is the musician that has the most significant influence on me. Besides being a huge fan of his music, I also looked to him as an example for learning good technique on the bass. I spent a good deal of time just learning his music and about him personally and the way he plays, whether it be from my own perspective or a teachers perspective. 

Philosophically, I would say Jaco once again. He redefined the role of bass within the context of Jazz and Rock. He fulfilled his role as a bass player but was able to bring in a melodic aspect that helps carry the song, without compromising the groove.

Stylistically, Oteil Burbridge is someone that I look to. I have seen him play in several different bands and musical contexts, and every time he does what is needed to be done while letting his own musical voice shine through. He’s never overshadowing the group and the song. Whether, it be The Allman Brothers, Aquarian Rescue Unit, or he’s playing with Victor Wooten, he’s always on point.”

(For Matt): Having played in a band that was 90% instrumental and often went entire shows with no vocals in college the burning “Why don’t you have a singer?” question quickly gets old. An instrument (when played properly) is just as capable of producing as much emotion as a great singer. Could you walk us through the benefits of playing in a format that gives you little to no instrumental restrictions?

When we first started off we got the “why don’t you have a singer/when are you gonna get a singer/ have you ever though about a singer” question all the time. But our response was always that we were happy where we were and that’s the most important thing. It took a while, but now we get a lot more of “it’s so refreshing that you guys don’t have vocals.” It was tough at first to figure out how to put on a whole show without singing but we were always conscious of how the crowd responded to certain things throughout a set and we’ve worked really hard at making it so people don’t even think about the fact that there’s no singer. As freeing as it is, you still have to treat songs in a similar way. We still have melodies that need to shine through, and sections that need to be brought out dynamically from one to the other. The focus is the same, but working together to find the right sounds ways to bring out the parts and melodies is where the challenge is.

(For A.C.) : You are a phenomenal walking example of versatility on the keyboard. You have a clear dominance of classic instruments like the Hammond B-3. You’ve also got a good understanding of the synth realm.  What do you find to be the most effective way for you to incorporate the best of the past alongside the new experimental keyboard technologies out there while still blending a sound somewhat reminiscent of the rock greats of the 60s and 70s?

AC: I find the most effective way to incorporate classical rock keyboards is continuing to do my research within the genre. Just by listening to the wide variety of analog instruments heard in recordings between 1960’s-1970’s and beyond provides me with a range of new ideas to draw from. The role of keyboards in TAUK is unique in that they control a large amount of textures, melody, tonal blending, and rhythmic support heard within TAUK’s  sound. The new technology made available today takes the role of keyboards to a whole new dynamic level. This allows me to experiment with techniques that worked in the past and reinvent them into something totally organic whether in a live setting, recording, or composing.


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