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Get to Know Hank and Cupcakes

hank and cupcakes

Hey Vagabonds, I know you’ve all have been loving our 10 for 2010 countdown that started last Tuesday.  We had tons of fun picking and writing about the bands as you may remember the first band we featured was a Brooklyn based duo Hank & Cupcakes.  We chose them because of the incredible sound that amazingly only the two of them produce and their crazy stage presence.  After their show at Cameo a few weeks ago they granted us an interview. Learn how New York City has influenced their music, the differences between life in Israel and America and why they absolutely love it here.  Not only are they fantastic musicians, but also two of the coolest people you’ll ever meet.

MusicVagabond (MV): We noticed that you never use your real names even on your site its Hank and Cupcakes.  Are those your performance personas?

Hank & Cupcakes (H&C): No one ever pronounces our real names correctly, so we thought we would make it easier for everyone. Sometimes it’s a stage persona, but mainly because it’s easier for everyone to remember.

MV: We read in your interview with Indie Sound you met while in the Israeli Military and played in a band together.  Is it common for bands to form in the military?

C: A good way to break into the industry would be to get into the military bands. In Israel musicians try really really hard to to get in to these bands.  They’re very very hard to get in to.  It’s like a lot of auditions, really serious, really scary, hard auditions.

MV: I also read that you played in a three piece acoustic for eight years. What’s the common denominator between that and the sound we hear now?

C: The common denominator is that we’re still creating minimalist music even though it’s totally different to our acoustic band. We came back from studying music in Cuba and decided that we were coming to New York and starting a new project. We did the acoustic thing for a very long time. It was very revealing and it was very personal and really hard for me to get on stage and be so open in front of the crowd.  I was showing my gut and I just wanted to do something fun and groovy and less serious and deep where people are just sitting and staring at you.

MV: When you decided to move to New York did you think a lot about what your NYC audience would be like? Did you tailor your new style to that audience?

C: We didn’t know what kind of audience we were coming to because I’d never even been to New York other than on connecting flights when I was ten years old!  But, what I did do was start writing songs in English and in a natural way they become a little lighter because Hebrew is a very heavy language and made me write heavier words. Writing in English is a little less personal for me; it’s easier for me to write more poppy stuff.  The actual language has more of a flow.

With Hank & Cupcakes, there was no actual plan. We were just experimenting.  It didn’t come out of any intention other than the fact that we knew we were coming to New York and were working on new material in English.

H: For me this is like… It’s my big chance, you know, to create something that has an impact on people.

MV: If you’re in Israel you feel like you chances are through?

H: There are a lot of interesting things about Israel and I don’t think that the music scene is one of those things. Even though there are a lot of very very good and interesting Israeli musicians in Israel and New York. This place is where everything is really happening, on a very global scale.

You come here and just by walking in the street and walking into venues you can listen to bands that actually make what is going to be heard on the radio in the next few years.  I feel that.  It’s amazing and I think even though the US is capitalist and I say this because we talked about capitalism when we spoke about Cuba, even though this place is capitalist, I can see people here who really live an idealist life and who don’t give a fuck about money they just do their art regardless of anything that stands in their way. That’s one of the things we’re looking for.

C: We’re very inspired.  It’s filling us up with energy. The music community is great, we make really nice friendly connections with other bands.

MV: What’s your favorite song off the EP? What was your writing process behind it?

C: I don’t really have a favorite song. I mean “Ain’t No Love”, “Pleasure Town” and “She’s Lost Control” I guess are our favorites.  It changes depending on the day and our mood! Usually my favorite song is the newest song we’re working on because I’m all psyched up, it’s new and fresh and we haven’t played it a million times.

MV: What’s it like to play songs over and over again.  We can’t imagine.

C: It’s very interesting and challenging to play it over and over again to rediscover it every time. They become like old friends or lovers, you keep finding more depth.

MV: Do you feel like the songs change every time you play them?

C: If it changes it’s a good sign. We never change the structure of the songs but if the energy changes it’s a good thing.  It means that it has life.

MV: What is your inspiration behind your lyrics?

C: I can tell you what “Ain’t No Love” is about.  It’s about my first experience riding the subway when we got to New York. It was very weird for me that nobody makes eye contact.  I’m used to people making eye contact even if they are strangers. I had a hard time getting used to riding the subway, I didn’t know what to do with myself so I tried wearing dark glasses but I found that drew attention to me because you can’t see my eyes so people feel more free to look at me so then I felt even weirder. Then I tried listening to music and I would take out my ear phones and put my head down.  It was really really really weird for me, that’s where I wrote that song.

H: When you’re in Tel Aviv and you walk into the bar, it doesn’t matter who you are.  You open the door and all the people in the bar turn around and look at you. The feeling is, who just came in? Who the fuck do they think they are coming to this bar!

MV: When do you plan on releasing a full album?

C: Ummm, once Sony gets us our record deal! (We all laugh - MV) or any of those big guys.  We’re very much hoping to get a deal and have the opportunity to record seriously with a big budget and time to do it and make it sound amazing.

MV: Are you working on new material?

C: We’re adding songs all the time.  It usually takes us a very long time to get a new song together because it’s just bass and drums and it’s trickier to get it interesting and sound really full, you know because it’s not a regular four piece band it’s very challenging.  It can take us three months to finish a new song. We’re really slow but we rehearse everyday to make up for it!

H: Not only that, we have a million things to do.  It’s not like we can rehearse all day.  We play every day and we are a very serious band, but we have a shitload of things to do and there’s life too.

C: I just bought a piano, so song writing is gonna go up.

MV: Where is the piano?

C: We placed it in our apartment.  We have a roommate and he didn’t know about it until he came home and found it in a very very narrow space that we call the living room, but it’s just an extension of the kitchen.

H: He looked very concerned about it.

MV: Do you think he was upset?

C: He was nice about it.  He’s a musician too.

H: Don’t you wanna ask any personal questions about our sex lives or anything like that?

MV: Nah, but we can only imagine that it might be really wild (We all laugh)

Make sure to catch Hank & Cupcakes who will be playing a show this upcoming Friday, February 5th at Pianos in the Lower East Side. Click here for show details

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Keepaway - 5 Rings

Keepaway - Everything You Wanted to Know Plus Some Things You Don’t

I’m late heading to The Studio at Webster Hall to meet Keepaway, recently dubbed “Best New Music” by Pitchfork with their track “Yellow Wings” receiving tons of attention.  I’m extra excited for this interview because I actually went to high school with two of the three members of this band and I can guarantee you if you asked them then if I would be interviewing them six years from now you would a have gotten a solid, NO. But this being New York, this city where anything and everything is possible including interviewing some friends from high school that happen to have a killer band is now happening regardless of our thoughts six years ago. One of the best things about Keepaway is that no one really knows anything about them. They seem to have appeared from thin air, leaving them the opportunity and ability to mold their image as they see fit.  The plan is to find out more about this elusive band by having a quick chat before their performance that night.

As I get off the train Nick Nauman, the guitarist texts me saying they will meet me in front of the venue.  Nick and Mike Burakoff, who is responsible for the electronic/synth sounds you hear on the EP, are waiting to greet me out front, but we are still short one member, the drummer Frank Lyon, who appears shortly after.  They suggest going somewhere where we can all hear each other since there are bands performing at The Studio. I glance around to see what’s in our vicinity and settle on, The Village Pourhouse, a local watering hole across the street.

We order our first round of beers. Nick is already ragging on Mike for ordering a girly beer and I can see that this will be interesting.  I warn you now that Keepaway may need a specialized font to denote their personal brand of sarcastic humor.  When I mention this to Nick later in an e-mail he responds by saying, “The sarcasm font is Helvetica, guess you hadn’t heard.”

I start by asking them to talk about themselves a bit, as if they didn’t know that they are a big mystery.  Frank, who by the way plays without a kick drum, starts.  “I’m Frank Lyon and I’m from Minnesota and Arizona.  We have all been playing together for about a year now.  I knew Nick from college and we intersected a little bit in San Francisco also and then I met Mike through Nick” (Frank and Nick both went to Wesleyan).  Nick then shares that, “Mike and I grew up together in a little town called Arlington, Massachusetts.  It was okay.” I can’t help but say, “Yah, I know a little bit about that place, A-town down!” and drop the “A” symbol, a kind of inverted peace sign that is a running joke where we grew up. When I look to Mike for his input he answers, “I went to Hampshire College, is that what we’re all talking about?”

I ask about why they changed their bands name from “In” to “Keepaway.”  They all agree that the biggest reason was, “So that people could find it on the internet, mostly”

“So In just wasn’t working?” I say.

“Yah, In wasn’t working.  That was like probably the biggest reason.  That’s what gave the name change urgency, but I think we were also just ready for something that had a little more color, a little more gravity, a little more something that you could actually remember.”

“It really came home to me after that time we were booked for a show and they just forgot to put us on the bill because it was just a short little two letters, so that sucked”, says Nick.

Frank chimes in, “Also, I noticed that my Mom could never remember the name of my band so if my Mom can’t remember no one else will.”

“Where did Keepaway come from?” I ask.

“We think it came from just talking. It came from talking about not naming. And I think I said keepaway from this or that,” says Nick.  “And then it was like keepaway keepaway keepaway.  We like the double meaning of ’a’ like just to keepaway and the classic game that children play.”

“It’s good to have a name that has the potential for taking on meaning, but is not already loaded with a whole bunch of it.  It has the room to grow,” explains Mike.

Many bloggers and journalists compare them to Animal Collective, Built to Spill and Modest Mouse, to name a few.  We discuss what they think about all these associations.

Nick answers, “Yah, I mean I couldn’t say that are right.  They’re not totally wrong.  I mean I could say we’re mostly influenced by Merzbow.”  They all laugh.

“Nick is really influenced by Merzbow.  I’m super influenced by this band called The Shaggs,” says Frank.

Mike adds that he, “Likes Pete Bjorn a lot.”

I’m curious about their music making process.  For those of you that have heard their EP, I’m sure you know why.  There is a lot going on, many layers and depth coming from this small three piece group.  Nick says, “We all share, it’s really collaborative.  There are times when one of the three of us will come with something that’s like fairly formed and we’ll work from there, but then there are times when we are all just hanging out and someone will have a few fragments of something and we will build it together.  So we’ve all contributed lyrics, we’ve all contributed songs.”  He takes another sip of beer, “This is really a consensus project, I mean luckily so far we like each other’s ideas.  I’m not worried about that changing.”

“So do you feel like you’re able to easily bounce ideas off each other?” I ask.

“Musically yes, sometimes there are some bad dynamic things that are off, but that’s mostly just my fault,” says Nick.  We all laugh.

“But that’s just part of being human,” adds Frank.

I ask what they think about their recent press in Pitchfork and Fader.  Were they surprised, did they know it was coming?

“Hypothetically I wasn’t surprised, but when it actually did happen that’s always a surprise and when it happens all at once.  I mean the Pitchfork thing came out on my birthday so that I thought that was like a good birthday present and the Fader thing came out the next day,” says Mike.

“Yah, totally cosmic,” Frank says sarcastically.  “What we were more surprised about was the effects of it.  You realize how small the world is when getting one review on one website results in all these offers.”

Mike adds, “I got e-mails from people that I haven’t talked to for years saying, I saw you on Pitchfork.”

We talk about their position of relative anonymity.  They really like that idea saying, “We like being in that position because we can do whatever we want and whatever we do they are gonna think it’s awesome.

“Yah, we are incapable of anything less,” says Frank with a goofy smile.

“Yah, we’ll see,” I say.

“Yah, we could suck”, says Mike.  “I plan on fucking up the show tonight real bad.   What if I just went up there and cried?”  Just call us Emo and that’s the way it will go, wah wah wah wah wahhhhh.”

So why call the album Babystyle?  Mike takes this one in stride, “Well one day Frank was wearing a big white t-shirt and maybe some baby blue pants and I said Frank what is that shit you’re wearing that’s straight Babystyle and Frank said, awww, son you didn’t just say a new word to me I want to hear and he started say aww that’s raw some real shit right there. And now we’ve been saying Babystyle about all kinds of stuff and it really just means having fun, keeping yourself open to wonder, exploring and not getting to serious and primary colors.  And like kind of like secretly serious too.  Like babies get to be serious without trying.”

“What’s irritating is trying to be serious, but if it just like naturally emanates from you it’s a nice thing,” adds Frank.  “We still try and be evocative of as many truly poignant and plaintive emotions as possible.  You should listen to how much Nick sounds like Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse. Insert farting sounds, I mean we like Modest Mouse but we don’t think Nick sounds like him.  Mike’s voice is the most prominent on that track anyways (they are speaking about ‘Yellow Wings’).  On the EP the voices are very even, we like switching off, that’s why we are Keepaway.”

We are close to finishing our beers, but I want to know about their favorite performance moment.  They give me a few, but there is one that stands out in my mind. Unfortunately, its way to inappropriate for the public to hear about. Just ask them how their Halloween show went a few a years ago and wait for the reaction. Luckily for them we are friends and I’m willing to compromise my creative integrity.

“Have you worn sweatpants at any of our shows?” says Frank to Nick.  “That’s gonna be your favorite show.  That’s gonna be the 2010 highlight, when Nick makes the switch for good.”

“I just need more pairs,” says Nick.

“Is that the new Babystyle?” I ask.

“Sweatpants is super Babystyle.  He looks good in the Navy Blue Sweatpants that show his peen a little, that’s his style,” says Frank.

“I’m sure the girls will love that,” I say, “but I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.”  We laugh.

“Well that’s because you know him,” says Mike.

“As long as you swallow it afterwards, that’s what I always say,” adds Nick.  Yup, it just went there.

They have to go back to The Studio at Webster Hall soon for their performance so we wrap it up.  They tell me that they are about to sign with a label that will allow them to have national distribution, but since the deal hasn’t officially gone through I promise not to mention any names.  I ask them what they are looking forward for in 2010.

Mike gives us another fantastic answer filled with enthusiasm saying, “First of all 2010 for me is great because it’s such a round number.  I’m excited because on every exponential curve where it seems like nothing is happening, things are really happening and then there is a point where things really start picking up and you notice and I feel like 2010 is where we start noticing things moving faster.”  With a beer in one hand, Mike stands up and starts making a rolling waves shape with his free arm of peaks and valleys and points to a valley and states while laughing, “This is where I get addicted to Heroin.” But seriously, we’re stoked for the year.  Our goal is to record a full length album.  We basically have all the material ready. If we actually release it this year it will mean we are really on our grind.  We are on the ball, but these things take time.  Lots of good things on the Horizon though.”

We head back over to The Studio, where they throw my stuff in the back room and kick me some free beers in thanks for the round that I had just bought them.  As we are waiting for their set to begin, Frank catches me off guard and asks whether I’m an only child. “Yes,” I say “Why do you ask?” He replies, “I could tell you have that air of irreverence about you.” I look at him a bit puzzled, but he offers no real explanation except to assure me he didn’t mean it in a bad way. I have to say that’s something no one has ever said which kind of worries me because it may be the general consensus on my attitude. So cheers to you Frank for being original and upping my self-loathing.

I stay for their set, which is amazing as usual.  They already have cute girlies wanting to dance with them on stage and one almost takes Nick out as she is flailing around to the music, arms outstretched jumping around and loving life.  I have to leave right after their set to make it to another venue so I don’t have the chance to say goodbye and sing their praises.  However, I think myself and everyone else feels that there is great things on the horizon for these three gents and can’t wait for their upcoming EP to be released.

http://www.myspace.com/keepaway


Written by Jessica Page

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“Ooooooo, whatcha put into that Soup?”
10 Questions for Mike Tallman of Eufórquestra
Hey Vagabonds! I had a chance to catch up with Mike Tallman, guitarist of Eufórquestra and ask him my 10 burning questions. We discussed the new albumSoup and their plans for 2010. I’m really pumped about where these guys are headed this year. I’ve seen them many, many times and I would recommend downloading their new album Soup from their website http://www.euforquestra.com. Eufórquestra is playing two nights in the Denver/Boulder area this week and what better way to get excited for the shows than to talk music? See them with DubSkin at the Boulder Theater Wednesday February 3 and at Cervantes in Denver, Thursday February 4th.
1. MV: I’m really excited for your show on Wednesday at the Boulder Theater. How did you come to know your co-headlining band, DubSkin?
MIKE: We actually knew the drummer, Cory (who is also the drummer for Pretty Lights), from our first trips to Fort Collins, when the band was still based in Iowa City. He was one of our first friends in the Fort Collins area, and we always kept in touch on returning tours.  We just kind of formed a relationship with the band and finally are getting to play with DubSkin for the first time, two nights in a row. We are very excited!
2. MV: Soup is your first album in three years, why such a long wait?
MIKE: We started another album about two years ago and started recording five or six tracks and made some progress on it. We didn’t feel it was coming together the way we wanted to. We decided to put it on the back burner and come back to it, and started touring heavily, concentrating on promoting the band. Touring and playing together constantly inspired a lot of new music and got us a lot of material. After the touring we decided we had enough songs to start recording an album and then we focused on creating Soup.
3. MV: I love Eufórquestra’s other two albums, but I especially love the cohesive sound of the latest; I’ve heard the short version of the inspiration behind the title track; can you give our readers the lo-down?
MIKE: The inspiration behind “Soup” is a fictitious story with a little bit of truth to it. The alto sax player, Austin Zalatel, wrote the song as a non-sensical song which was inspired by his family. They are all great cooks and he drew some creative juices from his grandmother’s soup. Everyone’s always asking, “Whatcha put into that soup?”
4. MV: Where does your Cuban/Caribbean influence come from? I would say that it’s uncharacteristic of a band from Iowa.
MIKE: Well, we all got together at the University of Iowa which is in Iowa City. Matt Grundstad (Percussion and Vocals) and Adam Grosso (former Bass – now Drums) studied Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance at U Iowa. They traveled to Cuba to study the music in person and played with some of the most renowned musicians there. The rest of the band was really interested in playing the style of music and began exploring the genre as a band. I guess you could say we all got the Afro-Cuban “bug” and just went from there.
5. MV: I wanted to revisit a question that I saw in 2007 interview with Matt Grundstad and Home Grown Music, the question went like this:
Home Grown Music: You categorize yourself as an Afro-Caribbean-	 Barnyard-Funk band. Who first defined your music this way? Would you consider yourselves revolutionary? Do you know any other bands that would fit in this category?Matt: People are always asking us to describe our music by putting it into a specific category. That’s not an easy thing to do because the answer to that question would depend on which song they are asking about. Since we don’t stick to any specific genre, we decided to describe it the same way it is created: by combining genres. Most if not all new music in the world that gets created and would be considered “original” is a product of combining ideas that already exist.
MV: That said, I feel that Soup is more focused than your first album The Adventures of Glen Devey. Do you still agree with the category “Afro-Caribbean-Barnyard-Funk”, or do you feel the band has grown into a different hybrid of genres?
MIKE: We still tend to use the same descriptions, but do change it up a little. Sometimes our posters and promo pieces will highlight us as “high intensity global dance music”. The new album has more of a focus on dub and reggae influence with a little afro-funk. We tend to move in phases as a group, it depends on what we are all listening to on our own and how we translate that to what we play as a band. With the album Explorations in Afrobeat, that was where we were at the time. We tend to move in these phases and concentrate on something we are interested in exploring at the time. I think we will always play and incorporate all different sounds and I don’t think we’ll ever abandon anything we’ve done in the past. We still want to maintain an eclectic perspective on our music so I don’t think we will ever focus on just one style that we play.
6. MV: I follow Eufórquestra online through the Eufórquablog, Facebook, Twitter etc. Do you feel it’s necessary for today’s up and coming artists to use digital media strategies to communicate with their current and potential fans? If so, why and which medium do you find most successful for Eufórquestra?
MIKE: It’s hard to say if it’s absolutely necessary for everybody. There are definitely a lot of advantages for people who do utilize digital communications with fans. The age of the internet has changed the music industry drastically, so it’s important to keep your eye on the trends and stay ahead of the curve. It’s made up and coming artists accessible to their fans. We spend a lot of time focusing onFacebook promotions and do a lot of interactions directly with the fans. We don’t have a publicist posting for us, which I think people really like because they are interacting with the band. It allows you to have a personal relationship with the band and communicate back and forth in a candid way; it’s also fun! We try to be really proactive about communicating through Facebook by sending info from the road and posting set lists. I think it’s a valuable resource for a lot of people and we find it’s a great tool for communicating with music lovers.
7. MV: Over the past year, which show has been your favorite experience?
MIKE: I’d have to say that a really awesome night for us was back in November when we played The Belly Up in Aspen for the first time. We were really looking forward to playing there for a long time, so it was that was a pretty cool experience. I’d have to say our CD release show in Ft. Collins was amazing since it was the first time we sold out our home venue, Hodi’s Half Note.
8.      MV: How’s the outlook for 2010? What makes you excited about this year?
MIKE: We’re definitely excited to push the album really hard this year. We want everyone to download Soup from our site (it’s FREE!), get people to check out the album and come out and support us live in greater and greater numbers. We feel there’s a lot of momentum for the band now and we are really excited to keep touring and building on that momentum. Overall, I’m just really excited to keep pushing and getting out there. One of our biggest highlights every year is always Camp Euforia (Lone Tree, Iowa). It’s the centerpiece to our summer touring schedule and we spend a lot of time planning and stuff around that.
9. MV: I know that we have a lot of Vagabonds on the east coast, any plans to make it out east this year?
MIKE: We are going to be out there towards the end of May. We are really excited because that’s new territory for us. Close friends of the band are getting married in Baltimore and we are going to play their wedding. Since we were going to be out that way, we decided to do an east coast tour because we have always wanted to play out east. We are shooting for the end of May and beginning June but don’t have concrete venues and dates yet.
10. MV: Which Eufórquestra album would you recommend to our Vagabonds who want to start listening to you guys?
MIKE: I would recommend starting with Soup because it’s most accurate representation of what we are doing right now. It would definitely be what would turn someone on. If they like it, I would then say travel back to Explorations in Afrobeatand The Adventures of Glen Devey to look at where we came from to get to this album. In those first two albums we were just recording what songs we had been working on at the time, Soup was more collaborative and we put a whole ‘nother level of effort and creativity into this album that I think really speaks to us.
11. MV: Ok, I lied, there are 11 questions. This little bonus question might be the hardest; which is your favorite Eufórquestra song?
MIKE: Oh geez, yah you’re right, that’s a toughy. Right now I’m really digging the stuff off of Soup, the first being the instrumental “Melody Truck”. I also love “The Events of December 11th“, but I might be a little biased because there’s a big face-melting guitar solo in the middle of that.
Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about one of my favorite bands. Until next time Vagabonds…
Music to your ears – from mine – with love
<3 L.Sizzle

“Ooooooo, whatcha put into that Soup?”

10 Questions for Mike Tallman of Eufórquestra

Hey Vagabonds! I had a chance to catch up with Mike Tallman, guitarist of Eufórquestra and ask him my 10 burning questions. We discussed the new albumSoup and their plans for 2010. I’m really pumped about where these guys are headed this year. I’ve seen them many, many times and I would recommend downloading their new album Soup from their website http://www.euforquestra.com. Eufórquestra is playing two nights in the Denver/Boulder area this week and what better way to get excited for the shows than to talk music? See them with DubSkin at the Boulder Theater Wednesday February 3 and at Cervantes in Denver, Thursday February 4th.

1. MV: I’m really excited for your show on Wednesday at the Boulder Theater. How did you come to know your co-headlining band, DubSkin?

MIKE: We actually knew the drummer, Cory (who is also the drummer for Pretty Lights), from our first trips to Fort Collins, when the band was still based in Iowa City. He was one of our first friends in the Fort Collins area, and we always kept in touch on returning tours.  We just kind of formed a relationship with the band and finally are getting to play with DubSkin for the first time, two nights in a row. We are very excited!

2. MV: Soup is your first album in three years, why such a long wait?

MIKE: We started another album about two years ago and started recording five or six tracks and made some progress on it. We didn’t feel it was coming together the way we wanted to. We decided to put it on the back burner and come back to it, and started touring heavily, concentrating on promoting the band. Touring and playing together constantly inspired a lot of new music and got us a lot of material. After the touring we decided we had enough songs to start recording an album and then we focused on creating Soup.

3. MV: I love Eufórquestra’s other two albums, but I especially love the cohesive sound of the latest; I’ve heard the short version of the inspiration behind the title track; can you give our readers the lo-down?

MIKE: The inspiration behind “Soup” is a fictitious story with a little bit of truth to it. The alto sax player, Austin Zalatel, wrote the song as a non-sensical song which was inspired by his family. They are all great cooks and he drew some creative juices from his grandmother’s soup. Everyone’s always asking, “Whatcha put into that soup?”

4. MV: Where does your Cuban/Caribbean influence come from? I would say that it’s uncharacteristic of a band from Iowa.

MIKE: Well, we all got together at the University of Iowa which is in Iowa City. Matt Grundstad (Percussion and Vocals) and Adam Grosso (former Bass – now Drums) studied Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance at U Iowa. They traveled to Cuba to study the music in person and played with some of the most renowned musicians there. The rest of the band was really interested in playing the style of music and began exploring the genre as a band. I guess you could say we all got the Afro-Cuban “bug” and just went from there.

5. MV: I wanted to revisit a question that I saw in 2007 interview with Matt Grundstad and Home Grown Music, the question went like this:

Home Grown Music: You categorize yourself as an Afro-Caribbean- Barnyard-Funk band. Who first defined your music this way? Would you consider yourselves revolutionary? Do you know any other bands that would fit in this category?

Matt:
People are always asking us to describe our music by putting it into a specific category. That’s not an easy thing to do because the answer to that question would depend on which song they are asking about. Since we don’t stick to any specific genre, we decided to describe it the same way it is created: by combining genres. Most if not all new music in the world that gets created and would be considered “original” is a product of combining ideas that already exist.

MV: That said, I feel that Soup is more focused than your first album The Adventures of Glen Devey. Do you still agree with the category “Afro-Caribbean-Barnyard-Funk”, or do you feel the band has grown into a different hybrid of genres?

MIKE: We still tend to use the same descriptions, but do change it up a little. Sometimes our posters and promo pieces will highlight us as “high intensity global dance music”. The new album has more of a focus on dub and reggae influence with a little afro-funk. We tend to move in phases as a group, it depends on what we are all listening to on our own and how we translate that to what we play as a band. With the album Explorations in Afrobeat, that was where we were at the time. We tend to move in these phases and concentrate on something we are interested in exploring at the time. I think we will always play and incorporate all different sounds and I don’t think we’ll ever abandon anything we’ve done in the past. We still want to maintain an eclectic perspective on our music so I don’t think we will ever focus on just one style that we play.

6. MV: I follow Eufórquestra online through the Eufórquablog, Facebook, Twitter etc. Do you feel it’s necessary for today’s up and coming artists to use digital media strategies to communicate with their current and potential fans? If so, why and which medium do you find most successful for Eufórquestra?

MIKE: It’s hard to say if it’s absolutely necessary for everybody. There are definitely a lot of advantages for people who do utilize digital communications with fans. The age of the internet has changed the music industry drastically, so it’s important to keep your eye on the trends and stay ahead of the curve. It’s made up and coming artists accessible to their fans. We spend a lot of time focusing onFacebook promotions and do a lot of interactions directly with the fans. We don’t have a publicist posting for us, which I think people really like because they are interacting with the band. It allows you to have a personal relationship with the band and communicate back and forth in a candid way; it’s also fun! We try to be really proactive about communicating through Facebook by sending info from the road and posting set lists. I think it’s a valuable resource for a lot of people and we find it’s a great tool for communicating with music lovers.

7. MV: Over the past year, which show has been your favorite experience?

MIKE: I’d have to say that a really awesome night for us was back in November when we played The Belly Up in Aspen for the first time. We were really looking forward to playing there for a long time, so it was that was a pretty cool experience. I’d have to say our CD release show in Ft. Collins was amazing since it was the first time we sold out our home venue, Hodi’s Half Note.

8.      MV: How’s the outlook for 2010? What makes you excited about this year?

MIKE: We’re definitely excited to push the album really hard this year. We want everyone to download Soup from our site (it’s FREE!), get people to check out the album and come out and support us live in greater and greater numbers. We feel there’s a lot of momentum for the band now and we are really excited to keep touring and building on that momentum. Overall, I’m just really excited to keep pushing and getting out there. One of our biggest highlights every year is always Camp Euforia (Lone Tree, Iowa). It’s the centerpiece to our summer touring schedule and we spend a lot of time planning and stuff around that.

9. MV: I know that we have a lot of Vagabonds on the east coast, any plans to make it out east this year?

MIKE: We are going to be out there towards the end of May. We are really excited because that’s new territory for us. Close friends of the band are getting married in Baltimore and we are going to play their wedding. Since we were going to be out that way, we decided to do an east coast tour because we have always wanted to play out east. We are shooting for the end of May and beginning June but don’t have concrete venues and dates yet.

10. MV: Which Eufórquestra album would you recommend to our Vagabonds who want to start listening to you guys?

MIKE: I would recommend starting with Soup because it’s most accurate representation of what we are doing right now. It would definitely be what would turn someone on. If they like it, I would then say travel back to Explorations in Afrobeatand The Adventures of Glen Devey to look at where we came from to get to this album. In those first two albums we were just recording what songs we had been working on at the time, Soup was more collaborative and we put a whole ‘nother level of effort and creativity into this album that I think really speaks to us.

11. MV: Ok, I lied, there are 11 questions. This little bonus question might be the hardest; which is your favorite Eufórquestra song?

MIKE: Oh geez, yah you’re right, that’s a toughy. Right now I’m really digging the stuff off of Soup, the first being the instrumental “Melody Truck”. I also love “The Events of December 11th“, but I might be a little biased because there’s a big face-melting guitar solo in the middle of that.

Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about one of my favorite bands. Until next time Vagabonds…

Music to your ears – from mine – with love

<3 L.Sizzle

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