Early next month, Brooklyn instrumental quartet TAUK will sweep through the Bay Area on their first ever headlining tour of the West Coast.
The progressive dance and funk blends that TAUK brings to the stage is mesmerizing, and in addition to a slot at Hangtown Music Festival over the weekend of October 22, they will be hitting the stage at the intimate Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz on November 2.
Earlier this year in March, the hippie metal machine from Chicago known as Umphrey’s McGee took TAUK under their wing as support on their West Coast tour which brought them to The Fox in Oakland. Four months later, Guitarist Matt Jalbert, bassist Charles Dolan, keyboardist A.C. Carter, and drummer Isaac Teel were on the bill for two sets at the 26th annual High Sierra Music Festival.
I had the chance to sit down with the four bandmates between their late night and afternoon sets over the fourth of July weekend where we talked about their upcoming tour, their latest album Sir Nebula, and more.
The Bay Bridged: Thanks for taking the time out for me, I’ve heard you guys are getting ready to release a new album, I’d like to talk about it a little bit if that’s cool.
TAUK (collectively): Yeah, sure, that’s fine.
TBB: Is it going to be all new material or are you going back to anything that you’ve done before?
Matt Jalbert: All new material recording-wise, but we have played some of the songs live because it’s hard not to. But we’ve definitely made a point not to play all of them until after the album drops. It’s definitely all new material. A couple of the songs have been around for a little longer, but most of them are pretty fresh.
TBB: About how long does it take for you guys to come up with a new album? Are these songs you’ve been thinking ahead of time about, like, ‘Hey, let’s focus on putting together a cohesive themed album,’ or, ‘Hey we have these new songs, we’ve been writing, let’s release an album.’”
AC Carter: Well it’s interesting, for this record there’s a couple songs that, there’s one song in particular that we recorded once years ago but never put it on a record, and we reapproached it and rearranged it so it sounds completely different. I wish there was a kinda timeline to writing a song, like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna write a song today and it’s going to be complete in one day —’
Charlie Dolan: — Or ‘We’re gonna play it and it’s gonna be awesome the first time.’
ACC: Right? Sometimes songs take months, coming back from a tour you’ll keep finding new inspiration or on the road you’ll be trying something live and realizing certain sections need adjustments. It’s hard to really pinpoint a certain formula because there are several formulas that we do somehow find a way to work.
TBB: What do you guys think about? When you’re locked into a jam and you’re grooving, what goes through your head? For instance, Robbie Krieger of The Doors has been quoted that he thinks about the goldfish in his fish tank when he solos.
MJ: Yeah? Ha, I don’t know. I get random thoughts that pop into my head. Hopefully I’m not thinking about anything.
CD: Outer space.
Isaac Teel: Especially in those moments where you’re just…you feel so good you don’t have the nerve to think about anything, you’re just so overcome with graciousness, being able to do this and to be in a place that not many people get to experience and appreciate it.
TBB: Like a ‘is this real?’ moment?
TAUK (collectively): Yeah!
CD: Appreciating the moment.
IT: Like, this is beautiful. I could be sitting behind a desk tearing my hair out you know, but I’m behind the stage, behind the bass, behind the drum set, behind the keys, spreading the love and people react and feed it back.
CD: And the focus of listening to each other and reacting off each other, you know, and the different things that happen between songs in a set and from show to show and enjoying that little stuff.
TBB: Another thing that makes each show unique: I understand that you guys have a set convention for naming your set lists.
TAUK collectively giggle.
TBB: I hear there’s a little secrecy behind that.
TBB: Is there any light you can shed so the general public can get in on that joke?
CD: Our tour manager spearheads all of that stuff, but we try to come up with something funny that happened earlier that day —
MJ: Or based on where we are. It definitely started with our tour manager, he got into it and once in a while if someone else feels inspired they’ll jump in and name a set list.
CD: Like, if we’re in Wisconsin, it’s probably going to be about cheese.
MJ + AC: Yeah.
CD: It’s going to be a cheese-oriented setlist.
MJ: (laughs) Yeah, a lot of the time it comes down to food.
ACC: Yeah, food.
MJ: We’ve had The Friends With Benedicts set —
The band’s laughter among themselves increases.
MJ: Once in a while we strike gold. Sometimes you just gotta put something there.
IT: It’s really fun for me because half of the time I’m not even looking at the name of the set, I’m looking at the actual list of songs, but I’ll get caught in the middle of a set reading a ridiculous title and all I can do is shake my head and not lose it.
CD: It’s just a lot of fun.
TBB: It’s more of a morale thing, then yeah? Keeping things light?
CD: And we like to give our set lists out to fans after the show to make it something extra-special and fun.
MJ: Every once in a while maybe the theme will set a tone, you know, subconsciously changing the way we play. Who knows, we can’t really measure that.
TBB: Has there ever been a Part 2?
MJ: I don’t know. (Asks band mates) Has there? Did we bring one back?
CD: Sometimes like if we play two sets at a festival we might do that, or two shows in the same city over two nights, they’ll be related at least.
TBB: Right on. What have you guys had on your band bucket list that you’d been able to cross off? What’ve you added and what’s still out of the way?
ACC: Red Rocks was definitely up there, but I don’t want to fully cross it off because I want to headline.
MJ: Yeah, that is definitely the biggest one up there.
CD: It’s one of the most exciting feelings. We only played for a half-hour last year, but it was the shortest and longest set we’ve ever played.
TBB: Do you guys play any other instruments outside of TAUK that you don’t normally play, for inspiration or relaxation or anything?
ACC: Not in public (laughs). But for example, I know a few chords on the guitar so much approach is very limited, but sometimes when you sit down with an instrument that you’re really, really comfortable with you can overthink it and get lost in it, so it can be nice to sort of step away and get a different perspective in terms of how to approach melody, how to approach a drum beat, bass line, different realms of music.
MJ: It’s also cool, you know, when one of us will write a song, like, say AC will write a guitar part, and I’ll get it and sometimes I’ll be like ‘That’s physically impossible to do on a guitar’ but other times it’s a fun line that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own. It can be fun writing for other instruments. Having a general sense of what’s possible is good but it’s also not because it allows you to really take a limitless approach.
TBB: Are there any contemporary artists that you guys can’t get enough of right now? Maybe potential tour mates?
ACC: Hiatus Kaiyote.
MJ: Ha, we’d love to tour with Radiohead.
IT: The Drumhedz. Not a lot of people know about The Drumhedz, but Chris Dave, he’s great.
CD: The Funky Knuckles.
IT: Funky Knuckles, yeah. They’re like a heavier Snarky Puppy.
ACC: Some of those dudes are from Cali. I think.
TBB: Well, hit them up! You guys need to get out here more, tour the West Coast a little bit!
MJ: We plan on it.
CD: Umphrey’s McGee brought us out here to tour the West Coast for the first time just this year, and that was the big opportunity we were waiting for to introduce us to the West Coast. Now we have every intention of coming back at least once or twice a year.
IT: We’ll be back for the fall, we’ll do a fall tour and hit the West Coast hard.
ACC: We’re doing Hangtown Festival around Halloween, which is going to be awesome. We’ll be heading as far north as Bellingham, WA and heading all the way down to San Diego.
CD: We’re coming for the West Coast.
IT: We’re coming for YOU!
TBB: Haha awesome. I appreciate the time you guys, thanks a lot for hanging out and speaking with me! Can’t wait to catch you in the fall!
P.S. Want more show recommendations, ticket giveaways, and music news? Sign up for our biweekly newsletter!