We sat down mid-tour with instrumental fusion band TAUK prior to their show opening for Thievery Corporation at Mavericks Live in Jacksonville, FL. Since we last spoke with bassist Charlie Dolan in a previous interview, the band has released two studio albums including their latest body of work, “Sir Nebula”, housed on STS9’s independent label 1320 Records.
Here we discuss what went into the making of this effort, as well as what’s coming up for the group in the near future. It sounds like the guys have their sights set on the sun, moon and stars and we wish them all the best! Read the interview below and listen to “Sir Nebula” here.
We interviewed you about two years ago for the “Collisions” album release and now you have the new album out, “Sir Nebula.” Your core sound doesn’t seem to have changed much over the years, but how would you describe the progression of your music since then? How have you grown?
Charlie Dolan: I think “Sir Nebula” is a dynamic record as far as the amount of ground it covers on a song-by-song basis, even as far as the highs and lows it reaches. I feel like that’s how we’ve developed as studio musicians.
When I last spoke with you, you said one of the band’s main goals is to create melodies that stick in people’s heads. Which songs off “Sir Nebula” do you feel achieve this goal the best?
Alric Carter: There are a couple of songs that do that. “Time’s Up” is definitely one of them. For me, “Flashback” is one of those songs. It has a very catchy chorus, or what we designate as the chorus.
Matt Jalbert: I think “Horizon” has some catchy melodies. It sticks in my head but may not necessarily stick out to someone else. I think there’s a lot throughout the album that offers itself up to becoming adhered more – it could be a guitar melody, or a bassline or a key stick. That’s one of the things I think we’ve gotten stronger at is letting the main focus change throughout. You never know where the lead is going to come from.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention any of my three favorites: “Program Select”, “Rain Walk” and “Where You Are.”
C.D.: Almost every song to us has a melody. When we’re first working on a song, I know the melody is good when I’m singing it for the rest of the day in my head. Then we use that to carry into the next song to take you to the next place and lead you down a path.
How do you find the starting place when making a new song?
Isaac Teel: Usually with the melody, it starts with either keys or the guitar. Me and Charlie hold down the bottom, the foundation.
C.D.: I’m the bridge between what Isaac’s doing [drums] and what these guys are doing.
A.C., where does your inspiration come from when you begin a song? Take us through your creative process.
It comes from everywhere. There’s been days I wake up and jump on the keyboard first thing and start playing, then take it from there. Speaking of “Collisions”, “Friction” is one of those songs. I had an idea and brought it in; then Isaac put a drumbeat on it. Then Matt had a melody that fit really well.
Ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes it may come from listening to new music coming out. I’ll hear something I like and listen to it over and over again and the progression may inspire me, or maybe the rhythm, like what Isaac does, and that idea translates into a melody basically. We try not to limit ourselves.
C.D.: Sometimes I’ll write a bassline and be like, oh that could actually be a melody or a bassline. Any of the parts we hear within each other’s playing could become something else on their own instrument. It’s just how it’s interpreted between each different instrument that changes the sound of it, but it may be the same idea just coming across differently.
I read a recent interview where someone asked you something I was curious about as well. With you being an instrumental band, where do you come up with song titles? And was there an overall theme for “Sir Nebula” or did you just get in there and write what you felt at the moment?
C.D.: From the beginning we were definitely using a certain palette of sounds that seemed apparent. They were definitely what we characterize as ‘spacey’ or atmospheric. We always had a space or intergalactic theme in mind. Isaac came up with the name “Sir Nebula.”
So Isaac gets credit for the title of “Sir Nebula.”
I.T.: Everyone has named an album already so I guess it was my turn.
Is this the first album you’ve put out on STS9’s 1320 Records label? How did this situation occur?
C.D.: We put out “HEADROOM” on 1320 Records but this is our first studio release through them. We just reached out to them and saw an opportunity to get in front a different audience that might not necessarily hear us otherwise. There are a lot of electronic and DJ acts on the label, and we don’t feel like we would usually have the ability to cross over into those realms. We thought it was a win-win situation to be associated with those guys.
Have you noticed any difference in the type of crowd listening to this album? Or are you still waiting to see the full results in order to judge the success of that marketing plan?
I.T.: There are a couple of people who’ve come up to me that said they’re into Soundtribe and hadn’t heard of us until we put this record out. Not many, but enough to have had a positive effect. Any kind of notoriety that wouldn’t normally be there is always a good thing.
TAUK definitely plays within a different genre than we would usually expect to see associated with STS9, but if you look at the full label roster it becomes clear how you fit into the puzzle of their vision. TAUK fills a void in their selected acts. It makes sense.
C.D.: Absolutely. We feel happy just being associated.
check out 1320 Records full list of acts here
So, TAUKING McGee – re there going to be anymore TAUK and Umphrey’s McGee collaborations coming up?
I.T.: God, we hope! It’s a good time.
C.D.: We hope so. We were lucky to have toured with them and have done more TAUKING McGee shows with them after that. It’s a fun experience over all. We’ve become such good friends with those guys. It’s fun to be united that way. More than likely it’ll happen again.
We hope so too. That was definitely a monumental tour experience for you I’d imagine. What about when you worked with Karl D. Would you say your first big break touring was with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe?
A.C.: We did a tour with P. Groove before that. I don’t know if I’d coin it as a breakout, but he was definitely one of the first people to take us out. Things started to snowball after that and it was huge for getting the word started to get out. So much love, respect and thanks to Karl.
C.D.: All those things matter – touring with Umphrey’s, Karl and P. Groove. It’s the sum of things building up momentum. We’re thankful for all the opportunities.
I.T.: They’re all learning experiences too. Opening up for these bands, we’ve learned how to run our own TAUK camp – the production, day-to-day touring – so it’s been great.
If money, time and any other perceived obstacles were a non-issue, where would you see TAUK in the future?
M.J.: We’d have a lot more gear. I’d have probably six amps. We’d just be bigger, way bigger.
C.D.: And I wouldn’t lift a single piece of it. [laughs]
M.J.: I’d never touch it again! Way more gear and way less touching of the gear.
I.T.: I’d have a personal helicopter and a personal Prevost [tour bus].
A.C.: I’d like to see TAUK endorsed by the Food Network.
So more equipment and fancier food…
I.T.: More amenities! [repeats] More amenities!
Ok, hopefully I covered everything you guys have going on. Is there anything else you want to let fans know about? I saw TAUK was just announced on Okeechobee Fest this coming March.
I.T.: We got a New Year’s run coming up with Lettuce.
C.D.: On December 29th we’ll be with Galactic in New York. And we’ll be with Lettuce on the 30th in Portland and New Year’s night in Boston. We got another tour coming up after this year’s over and then festival season starts.