Long Island-bred foursome TAUK is bringing its instrumental rock fusion onslaught back to Buffalo Iron Works on Feb. 10, but don’t expect The Queen City’s peanut gallery to suddenly go gently into that good night. They’ve been making it their life’s work to complain about western New York’s lack of quality shows since the Dark Ages and some people would simply cease to exist if they didn’t have something to get blindly incensed over.
Anyone in the know can spot the laziness in their argument from miles away, because the majority of this area’s transcendent musical experiences are happening away from what outsiders would consider our mainstream venues. They’re occurring at bars, clubs, and mid-size concert halls run by promoters who possess a keen understanding of where the best music is coming from in 2016. These shows aren’t always the most buzzed about, but they are well-attended by fans seeking an alternative to the Rihannas and the Country Megatickets of the world.
TAUK fits that bill beautifully. They conjure up a scrumptious array of funky experimental grooves every time they set foot on the stage and, in contrast to the usual prepackaged arena nonsense, no two shows are ever the same.
I had the pleasure of checking in with bassist Charlie Dolan recently to discuss the band’s whirlwind 2015 as well as how they plan to build on that success in Buffalo and beyond.
If you’ve never heard of them before, consider this a perfect opportunity to get acquainted.
You owe it to yourself.
MNOD: What inspired you guys to release a live album?
Charlie Dolan: We wanted to put something out that was able to live up to the reputation we’ve established for ourselves as a live band. Our studio output is one thing, but we were able to take moments from the best rooms we played in during 2015 and create an album we believe is the best representation of what we do. Live music is an entirely different animal and the energy we draw from playing together on stage can’t be replicated any other way. I look at our records as commercials for the live show, because we’re constantly trying to push ourselves to a higher level in front of an audience. We’ve wanted to put out a live album for a while, so Robert Carranza came in and was able to capture it for us.
MNOD: How do you think playing nearly every major American festival in 2015 made you an even tighter band?
CD: Well, with bigger stages come bigger expectations, and we knew we were definitely ready for the challenge. The more we played, the more comfortable we became with the moment. I think we won over a lot of people, because we were able to play in front of certain audiences that were either there to see other bands or had never even heard of us to begin with. Our fanbase undoubtedly grew from the experience, which is something that fuels us as we prepare for more headlining dates in the future.
MNOD: You’re often stamped with the dreaded “jam band” label. What do you think of that classification and how would you describe the band’s music?
CD: I always thought of us as instrumental rock fusion at the beginning. I mean, I’ve been in the band for 16 years now and started out influenced by bands like The Who, Cream, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. But as we’ve grown together musically, jazzier artists like Herbie Hancock have also become a part of our sphere of influences. The jam band thing is more of an overarching label for the scene itself than the music associated with it, so it never really bothered me. Our sound incorporates elements of prog, R&B, hip hop and funk, so we can’t be classified under any single umbrella. As long as people are coming to the shows, I’m OK with whatever label people want to give us.
MNOD: You’ve been working with Grammy-winning producer Robert Carranza for quite some time now. What does he bring to the table that really elevates the band’s sound to another level?
MNOD: He’s the master of sound. His specialty is being able to take the finest elements of our music and put them in a context that is palatable for the listener. He always has a say in the direction we’re taking and pushes us sonically in ways that no one else does. He acts as another voice in the room able to offer a fresh perspective on what we’re doing, which essentially makes him an unofficial member of the band.
MNOD: How will your next album continue to build upon the strides made during 2014’s “Collisions?”
CD: I’m really excited for the next album, because it will display the greatest range both musically and dynamically we’ve ever put forth. It’s the next step on our journey. Our goal for 2016 is to continue to grow together and expand our audience as much as possible. By the end of the year, we expect to be headlining our own tour.
MNOD: What can people expect on the upcoming tour?
CD: When we’re not headlining our own shows, we’ll be in the opening slot for Umphrey’s McGee. We played shows with them last year, as well, and it was something that just gradually came together due to our similarities in style. They took us out to the west coast with them in 2015 and I think they appreciated the work we put into our set every night. We only get about an hour on that tour, so we have to do our best to present the clearest picture of our music in a tight space. When we’re headlining, we’re able to stretch things out on a much more expansive scale.
TAUK w/ After Funk will be at Buffalo Iron Works on Feb. 10