I had the pleasure of sitting down today (which in 2016 means a call while he was holed up in his bus bunk, heading East to the next spot on tour) with Matt Jalbert, lead guitarist for the band TAUK. The band is currently on the road promoting their newest album, Sir Nebula.
JC: So, talk to me about Sir Nebula? How did it come to be and what’s the resounding difference between this and your other albums?
MJ: The biggest take away from this album is that it’s the first entirely collaborative project we’ve worked on. There is a piece of every one of us, in each of the songs. We came together to combine all the best parts of ourselves as individual musicians to build this music and I think this album reflects our willingness to push each other to be excellent.
JC: So, did you guys face any of the woes that typically stem from that level of collaboration? Meaning, how do you manage that volume of input while making sure everyone is respected creatively? How does it not turn into the dreaded “group project”?
(May I add here that I asked Matt how they shared their individual content, hopeful it was pages pulled from a pink diary covered in unicorn stickers, but alas, he said it was mostly through technology.)
MJ: We’ve built a lot of trust as a band over the years and especially on this tour. It really all comes down to listening, learning when to (and not to) take things personally, and how to genuinely embrace creative openness for the sake of the album. We also look to Robert (Carranza, Grammy Award-winning producer/mixer/engineer) who is basically like a member of the band now. He’s always sort of one step ahead, able to pull us back when we’ve been rehearsing something for four hours and say, “Guys, it was right on the first try.”
JC: How do you feel fans are reacting to the new music?
MJ: We’ve had a really positive reaction to this album and we’ve made it a goal this tour, even more so than tours past, to breathe personality into each live performance – it’s been all about finding textures and different layers in the sound and sharing that with our fans.
JC: What have been the best and worst parts of this tour so far?
MJ: Well, the best has been seeing everyone’s reaction to the new music. Worst has definitely been some vehicle issues we’ve encountered along the way. They finally seem to be worked out but it was NOT awesome for a minute.
(I ask Matt if we’re going to see them riding up to Variety Playhouse on Friday carrying amps on scooters and he tells me maybe. I almost volunteered to help roadie at this point, but worked hard at my professional decorum.)
JC: At the end of the day, what’s the one thing you want fans and the music community to know about this album?
MJ: Well, it’s Space Rock…
(This is the part where I interrupt with laughter and insert an “I am a Golden God” reference from Almost Famous, as I, personally, want to yell “It’s Space Rock” as I jump off a roof into a pool. Matt did not call me a giant dork, which I appreciated.)
MJ: It’s a strong, good sound. It’s the result of us writing and working at it every day. It’s taking lessons we learn from bands like Umphrey’s (McGee), and other artists or bands we’ve played with, like Robert Randolph or Papadosia. Those guys practice every. single. day. They work and rework until they make their shows the best possible representation of the music.
JC: Every day sounds like a LOT of work. Do you ever say, screw it, we’re taking a day off?
MJ, laughing: Well, we are still a band after all. There is still a lot of fun, there are still a lot of good stories from the road, but the music does have to come first MOST of the time.
JC: Alright, time for closing remarks. Anything else you want to share?
MJ: We mostly just hope the fans love this album and find something unique and original in it. We hope they love this tour and can tell how hard we pushed ourselves, and continue to do so during shows.
At this point, I thank Matt, then finally take a minute to fangirl about my own love of TAUK and fondness for the jam community. Again, he doesn’t call me a dork and for this, I am thankful.
TAUK will take the stage at Variety Playhouse on Friday, November 18th. For more information about the band, their fall tour, or Sir Nebula, visit www.taukband.com.