Main Image by: Kali Taylor Photography
TAUK's Matt Jalbert (guitar), Alric "A.C." Carter (keyboard) and Isaac Teel (Drums) sat down with us before hitting the stage on the last day of Sweetwater 420 Fest to discuss their latest EP Shapeshifter I: Construct. During the interview, the band members gave us a more in-depth view of their upcoming album and revealed how they elevate their music to the next level. Whether its new equipment or changing their recording habit, this band continues to reach new heights as they mature their music while keeping their identity. Check out what the guys had to say below, and don't forget to listen to the interview on Bullet Music's SoundCloud.
Let’s talk about the new EP, Shapeshifter, that released back on the 6th of April. How did you guys approach the EP differently than some of your other albums?
AC: This time we worked with our producer Robert Carranza, and this time we did it all in the same spot. Robert’s from LA, so a lot of the time we’ll go to his studio in LA. Solar Plastic Power Plant Studios; and we’ll do the drums out there and do pre pro. But we found that it’s hard to recreate that moment in time, so when we came back home to do over dubs it just wasn’t the same. You were trying to capture specific moments so we decided to do pre-production, do our initial tracking, and all of our over-dubs at the same spot- which is this house that we had, this old house that was abandoned for 30 years. So it had a vibe to it and we felt that it was better to kind of keep it that way. That’s where we did everything.
I really like the title you chose for “Stranger Danger.” Was that from something? From an event, or anything like that?
Matt: No, (to AC) did you throw the name out there?
AC: Yeah I threw the name out there.
Matt: AC Suggested the title.
AC: I don’t know, I just like this creepy song. Its weird. You know, You need a song name, and we had to pick one. And It just felt like strange danger was appropriate.
Matt: I was with it. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that video of that little kid on YouTube. It’s like some hidden camera thing, where these parent leave their kids doing arts-and-crafts and then this stranger walks up and he’s like, “Hey kids, wanna come with me? I've got some ice cream!” And the one girl’s just like, “No! Stranger Danger!” And the other kid is like, “Ice Cream!” So yeah, that’s what that song means to me.
I noticed there was a lot of electronic bursts in the album. Can you guys elaborate and just talk about the direction you wanted to take?
AC: Yeah, It’s just a shapeshifting time in the music. We’re exploring new sounds. Exploring feels. Just honing in on our own way of interpreting our music, that it just comes out. Whether it be electronic, whether it be funk, rock, jazz – it’s us. We throw all that then to make it a big soup and whatever comes out better taste good. Cause it taste good to us.
Matt: Like Isaac has been doing some electronic stuff, like adding samples to his drum pad. Charlie, a little bit before we went to the studio, got into the world of pedals and started just getting all these toys to play around with; which just adds all these new textures. I’m always doing that same thing with pedals and stuff on the guitar. AC had some new keyboard he was using. He was using the Prophet, and the JUNO. As we tour, and we just grow and as we just learn more you see what other musicians are doing. You see what’s out there. And your like “oh that’s cool.” And then the studio is finally the time where you can actually experiment with those things. Cause it’s kind of hard to just commit to a new sound in a live show. You know? You’re not really sure. What does this nob do? How does that fit in the sound? When we go into the studio, we are always conscious to what new sounds we can bring to our fans.
Along those same line, from the people you’ve been watching, who’s taught you a lot or influenced you that is touring right now?
Matt: Guitar wise, I’m always looking backwards and forwards all the time. I still listen to Hendrix all the time. Even listening to bands like Snarky Puppy and all the guys that play guitar in that band. Right now with just YouTube in general, it’s that rabbit hole of, “Oh, this is a cool pedal. I’ll watch a demo video.” And then that leads me to another thing. You get overwhelmed by it, and then you have to kind of think – alright, what can I use?
AC: I mean for me, you have certain keyboards that give certain sound bank, give you certain textures, right? And we’ve figured out how, through pedals and various different instruments how to identify our sound. But you got to change it up. You’re not going to get the same haircut every time. Sometimes you’re go shave, other time you want, I don’t know, a flat top. Whatever it is, It’s still you. So we try to figure out ways to keep developing our sound without losing our identity.
Your collaboration with TAUKing Mcgee is this evening. How did that get started?
AC: That’s a good question.
Matt: The first one was in New York City at B.B. Kings.
That was two years ago right? 2016?
AC: I think so. Maybe three.
Isaac: Three. Three years ago, because we did that first tour with them in 2015. That long spring went from January to April.
Matt: Are you serious? What have we been doing?
Isaac: Living Bro!
Matt: Yeah. We had done a couple of shows with them already. And we were planning the bigger tour with them. I don’t know who suggested we try to do some special little things and kind of threw that idea out of combining forces. We have kind of kept it going even though we haven’t really been doing shows with them; like we did on that whole run. If we are in similar places, like a festival, like today and we can make it happen, we’ll make it happen.
If you could make it happen, would you do something with them studio wise?
AC: Yeah, absolutely. Those guys are pro. Their whole organization and the band themselves, they do it right. That’s something that we respect and admire and we’d love to do something. As a matter of fact, we actually did a remix of one of their songs, “Piranhas.” Actually while we were tracking the record, we took two days, or a day to put our spin on it and send It back to them. And they are going to put it out on their remix albums, which is great because the asked us to do that. Which says a lot and it’s something that we had a lot of fun with. It’s just kind of a testament to the dynamic and relationship- that we’re friends.
When the next time we can expect Shapeshifter II or the LP?
AC: Construct is the first instillation and the second will be coming out in hopefully September, in the fall. It’s a full length, so we cam in with a bunch of songs, like almost 20 songs. Ok, well what do we do with all of this? Do we just put it all out? And we didn’t want to blow our load. We figured that we’d wait and put some more music out and the way things are going today, it’s about content. We’ll support the tour with the new record. It’s tough, because you want to play the songs. But you have to show restraint. So we’ve been figuring out ways to bring back old songs that we haven't (put) in the rotation as much. We’ll just have new life in them and different covers and things like that. We try to keep our live shows different. We don’t want to do the same. We are not a band who just is going to play the same set list all the time.
So after this Shapeshifter tour, what’s next on the plate for you guys? Anything else that we can look forward to for the future?
Matt: Yeah, you know summer is coming up so we’ll be hitting a bunch of festivals. That’s lways fun.
Any in particular you are looking forward to?
Matt: Well this one today we are excited about. We got Summer Camp coming up. We’re doing one in Boston called Boston Calling. That’s a bigger one. We’ll be all over. We’re going back to Red Rocks later in the year, with Sound Tribe. That’s exciting. That’s always a fun place to play. SO yeah. Stuff like that!
Isaac: Camp Bisco.
Oh so we’ll get a TAUKing Tribe later right?
Matt: You never know.
Isaac: If their open.
AC: Yeah man. We’ll do TAUKing whoever. Whoever bring the heat. Cause we are going to bring the heat.
Matt: We’re doing a TAUKing Beatles set at Resonance Festival where we will be putting our spin on some classic Beatles tunes and making them sound different.