It’s not easy being an instrumental rock fusion band. But Tauk has made it work.
In just three years, the New York City-based outfit has gone from driving 13 hours between low-paying gigs to opening shows for Umphrey’s McGee. They once fielded questions such as “When are you going to get a singer?” Now they’re getting comments more like, “It’s refreshing you don’t have vocals.” There are many reasons why.
Tauk, which will visit Funk ‘N Waffles Downtown, 313 S. Clinton St., on Tuesday, Sept. 8, was born out of friendships, but built out of hunger.
“When we first started playing shows, the mentality was let’s get any and every gig we can get,” says guitarist Matt Jalbert. “We needed to get our name out there. We played weird shows at odd places, not the best venues, and we were figuring out how to write songs. It’s a challenge getting people to pay attention, especially when there are no lyrics.”
Band members also include bassist Charlie Dolan, keyboardists Alric “A.C.” Carter and drummer Isaac Teel. They grew up around each other in Long Island and Staten Island, jamming together throughout middle and high school. The musicians stayed in touch throughout college even though they all went to different schools. Following their collegiate years, Tauk was born and the weird venues ensued.
“We started gigging mostly around the Northeast, then branched out from there,” recalls Jalbert. “We started playing some smaller festivals with Pigeons Playing Ping-Pong and we would just try to get in front of people with open minds for music. We’d start with 30 to 40 people every time we came through a town and grew more and more every time.”
After the band opened last year for Umphrey’s McGee, it’s been a progressively wild whirlwind ever since. “Those kinds of opportunities, we try to make the most of them,” Jalbert says. “We really try to put our best foot forward.”
The change in the crowds has also affected Tauk’s music. “We used to show up and have to get the audience’s attention,” Jalbert says. “Now we show up at venues and people know our material. They’re there for us. Now it’s more like, let’s give them a show. It’s a different approach. It’s nice!”
The band has released several studio albums, but will release their first live album, Headroom, on Friday, Sept. 3. It’s also the band’s first with 1320 Records.
“We usually go in to record an album with a huge focus,” Jalbert explains. “We try to knock it out and do our best. But we’re limited to a certain extent compared to what we do live. Live, there is a certain energy we had to capture. We wanted to capture what it’s like to go to a Tauk show.”
The live shows feature more than music. With lights dancing around the vibrant band, no one is missing a singer these days.
“We’re not opposed to working with other musicians,” Jalbert says. “The singer thing just hasn’t happened yet and it’s definitely not a goal to end up with a singer. It’s a challenge for us, and the crowd, I think, to accept it.”
Jalbert thinks the Funk ‘N Waffles show will be more of a good time than challenging, however. “I guarantee it will be a lot of fun,” he says. “We’ve got new songs we’re playing and we’re really pumped. We’ll be fresh and ready to go. It’s something new for people to check out.”