It takes a certain type of band to build a loyal following without a vocalist or lead singer. Lyrics tie songs together, they make music far more accessible to the “average” listener, and they simplify the songwriting process. But when a band masters the difficult formula to drive a song’s narrative forward with instruments alone, they creat a truly unique musical experience for their fans. Within this niche, Long Island’s TAUK has emerged as one of the most important instrumental bands over the past five years.
What a lot of people don’t know about TAUK is that Matt (guitar), AC (keys) and Charlie (bass) started off as a high school band. During their early formative years they frequently rotated vocalists in and out of the band, and it wasn’t until after college when they decided to rebrand and transform TAUK into a completely instrumental outfit. Around that time in 2012, Matt, AC and Charlie also brought on their current drummer Isaac Teel, and the rest is history. Hundreds of shows, three studio releases, and one live album later, TAUK sits atop the music world as one of the most highly regarded up-and-coming jam bands.
On April 22nd, TAUK reaches a new pinnacle of success with their debut headlining performance at New York City’s Irving Plaza with special guests Consider the Source and Space Bacon. Not only is this TAUK’s biggest hometown performance to date, but it’s also the final show of a multi-month winter tour. Ahead of this major milestone I had the opportunity to catch up with the entire band to talk about Irving Plaza, the band’s transformation, new music, and much more. Make sure to buy your Irving Plaza tickets here while they’re still available!
CEG: Hey Matt, Charlie, Isaac & AC, thanks for taking some time on the road to catch up with us. To kick things off, fill us in on what you’ve been up to over the past few weeks!
Matt Jalbert: We’re about a week and a half into our tour right now and things have been going great! We got to play our first festival of the year at Okeechobee, which was incredible. All of the shows have been feeling really good and we have a couple new songs we’ve been working into the sets. We had to work out a few issues with our vehicle, but it’s all part of life on the road. Nothing a little Prince’s chicken down in Nashville couldn’t fix.
CEG: Okeechobee looked like a crazy festival, congrats on that performance! Now looking ahead, TAUK has a huge performance on Saturday, April 22nd, (tickets) where you’ll make your headlining debut at New York City’s Irving Plaza with Consider the Source and Space Bacon. Tell us about this monumental hometown show, what we can expect, and how it feels to headline such notable venue.
MJ: Irving Plaza is one of those venues we’ve always wanted to play so we’re definitely pumped for this one. I’ve seen so many awesome shows there growing up and living in New York. I just had the chance to see Hiatus Kaiyote there over the summer and it’s definitely one of those venues that just adds to the excitement of the show. On top of that it’s going to be be our tour closer after two months on the road, so it’s really the best way to be coming back home. Tour closer, hometown show, Irving Plaza – the energy is going to be off the charts.
CEG: Years back TAUK commonly incorporated vocals into its music, but since then you’ve transformed into one of scene’s most important instrumental outfits. What prompted this transition, and how would you describe your current sound to a new listener?
Charlie Dolan: The transition to being a fully instrumental band mainly came from us feeling restricted musically with where we were at the time. We found that having a singer in the band meant shaping the sound around that person’s voice. It’s not like we don’t like singers, we just enjoy the freedom to try anything we want when it comes to song writing and improvising without trying to fit in the box of someone’s vocal range and style. That led to the thought that we could build ourselves up as an instrumental band and if we wanted to work with singers we could while still maintaining our identity. There’s been a few ways to describe our sound that I personally like. “Instrumental Rock Fusion” is the most to the point but I also like “Math rock that swings.” Someone said the other day we sounded like Pink Floyd meets The Roots, a comparison I will gladly take.
CEG: You released your newest album, Sir Nebula, in September of 2016. Generally speaking, I’ve noticed TAUK manages to put out a new release almost every year. This said, can we expect any new music from the band in 2017?
CD: We are working on music for next record right now! The plan is to start the process at the end of this year moving towards a 2018 release. We have already started working new material into the live rotation. Otherwise, we are now releasing some of our live shows through Nugs.net, so keep on the look out for a bunch stuff to get posted real soon!
CEG: Your music is unique, so the steps you take to write and create new music must be unique as well. What process does the band take when writing new material?
Isaac Teel: There are a couple ways we all write new material for the band. Most times someone comes into a rehearsal with an idea and we all brainstorm with instruments in hand around those ideas.
CEG: It’s always interesting to learn where a musician draws his/her inspiration. If each of you had to point to one album that influenced you the most as an artist, what album would that be?
AC: Definitely You’re Under Arrest by Miles Davis
Isaac: I’d say James Hall’s Worship & Praise
Charlie: That’s tough one. For me, I’d say Break Me by Kneebody.
Matt – Drukqs, Aphex Twin
CEG: I love your originals, but I also love your covers. I’ve heard whispers of the band premiering some new covers soon. Are you able to share anything regarding this topic?
AC: We’re always trying to make each show different and incorporating covers is a great way to accomplish that. Recently, we’ve been digging into Tears for Fears, Stevie Wonder, and Pink Floyd to name a few. The rotation is ever changing.
CEG: Looking ahead, TAUK is already off to a fast start with some huge bookings and festivals. What are each of you most looking forward to in 2017?
AC: After this Winter/Spring run we’re really looking forward to getting back in the festival circuit. We’re especially excited to return to Electric Forest, FloydFest, Summer Camp, and Lockn. Each of those festivals have diverse line ups and create a positive atmosphere for both stellar fans and musicianship. You can also catch us at Disc Jam and Mountain Jam in upstate New York.
CEG: Finally, I typically end interviews with an open forum. Anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t covered here?
AC: We love to eat. Feel free to bless us with cookies, brownies, cakes, and other baked goods. If there are any restaurants we should stop at on our tour, don’t hesitate to let us know! Most importantly, thanks to our fans for being the best and so supportive.