Wanna Funk?

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:14


    I was somehow deemed the most responsible,” says Jared Tankel, bari-tone sax player in the Staten Island–based musical collective The Budos Band, explaining why he was singled out, among the 10 dudes that make up the jazz/soul/funk instrumental group, to talk to me. And he seems to be correct.Though the band’s soundcheck for a performance at BAMCafé later that evening was slated for 4,Tankel is the only member who arrived on time, and he insists that it isn’t just because he was expecting me. “I tend to be a fairly organized person on the whole,” he explains, and as we chat for an hour or so, it is slowly confirmed: Dressed in fashionably dark clothes while seated in an undecorated dressing room upstairs from the performance space,Tankel occasionally takes or makes an intra-band phone call, cellularly shepherding the somewhat brotherly group, apologetically smiling at me all the while.

    The 14-song set the band will play later, however, is neither courteously apologetic nor aided by digital technology. There are sometimes six guys maintaining the percussive flow, providing a coolly muscular mix of shaker, congas, cowbell and more—your blogger’s-wet-dream-ofthe-week rock band might prefer to simply plug in a drum machine.

    It’s an aesthetic that the Budos boys live by, both on the road and in the studio.


    “The recording process is all analog,” Tankel tells me when I ask about the fabulous vintage feel of both their self-titled debut and recent follow-up, The Budos Band II. “It’s all tape.There’s no ProTools.”

    Someone’s got to name the songs however, and it’s not always a band member that does the christening: “Half of the song titles are changed after we take them to DapTone,” Tankel says about the group’s record label.

    “What we come up with is so stupid they’re like ‘We can’t release a song that’s called ‘500 Wolves,’ [we’re] not Ghostface Killah,” he adds, name dropping the most notoriously free associative MC of fellow Statenites Wu-Tang Clan, who Budos guitarist Tom Brenneck has actually worked with. Later as I watch the men tear through their material, it’s no longer surprising.Wu producer RZA could easily draw inspiration: Tankel’s all staccato menace on the horn riff that centers “Chicago Falcon,” and later his sax solos, manifest as equal parts flutter and gravity. Organist Mike Deller plays a vintage unit with a nostalgically trebly tone, sometimes conjuring spy movie intrigue, such as on the sly groover “King Cobra,” but then he’s just as easily slapping out a chord dramatic enough to punctuate a soap opera cliffhanger.

    The audience digs it all. Middle-aged Downtown Brooklynites sway alongside cats from ‘hoodier parts of the borough.To the right of the band there’s a natural blonde rhythmically karate chopping the air, somehow turning a martial art into a pleasingly fetching dance. On the group’s opposite side, a slight brunette suddenly tosses her glittery gold purse onto the floor with abandon, now unencumbered and ready to groove.

    Tankel is the group’s spokesman on stage as well; he banters between numbers, even if he’s a bit more unhinged than he was in the afternoon, hyping the crowd and commenting on the winter weather visible through the giant windows of the space. “It’s snowing outside, everybody! It’s a fucking party!”The logic connecting these two facts is hard to establish, but it doesn’t matter.The crowd responds with a roar, and Budos is on to the next tune. As our interview day wraps,Tankel notes that he’s pleased to be playing the gig this week at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge.

    Though the band has no trouble swaying the attendees at BAM, he says the guys in the group “like a dirty rock club more than a polished jazz environment. It feels less uptight.”

    Before I turn off my tape recorder, I open the floor to him, in case there is something he wants to discuss that I haven’t asked him about. His eyes search around, and he verbally stumbles a bit, trying to think of something.

    “Would you rather just let the music speak for itself?” I ask. “Yeah.”