We Don’t Know Any Better:
Expanding the Palette of Sound with Ezra Huleatt of Black Taxi
Words by Audra Tracy — Brooklyn, NYC
Brooklyn-based Black Taxi radiates a hybrid sound that is part punk, part pop and 100% animal – and you should be truly embarrassed if you haven’t heard of them yet. The four-piece is taking their body paint, megaphones, and carnival drums on the road this month to promote their second full length album We Don’t Know Any Better. America, meet your new IT band.
We Dont Know Any Better was recorded with Aaron Nevezie at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, the same space where The Black Keys cut hit songs like ‘Tighten Up’. The album opens up with the single ‘Tightrope’, which sounds like a Vampire Weekend song, but way better. The catchy chorus “time’s not wasted/when we’re wasted with our friends” could make ‘We’ll Take Another’ the first party anthem of 2012, and the rockin’ title track does with four people what takes Umphrey’s McGee six men to accomplish. #Just sayin’.
‘Do What You Gotta Do’ has all of the elements of a great Talking Heads song, a comparison that Black Taxi’s Ezra Huleatt (vocals/trumpet/keys) confirms. “Bill (Mayo) who plays guitar and does a lot of the singing has a very David Byrne-y voice”, Huleatt says. “That’s definitely one of our influences; there’s many Talking Heads songs that I wish I had written. We all kind of come from different backgrounds, but I think that’s one band we can all agree on.”
The follow up to 2009’s Things of That Nature, Black Taxi’s new record got an upgrade in terms of production value. “It was very different from our initial album, which was cut on tape”, Huleatt says. “With this one, we were able to play around a lot more with tempos and ideas and stuff. We kind of came into the studio with a lot of space in our songs, and hoped the magic would happen, and it did happen for the most part.”
Even though he was raised in a musical family, Huleatt claims he became a singer ‘by default’. “I grew up pretty much in a tight-knit Christian commune where every day before meals, people would sing songs”, he shares. “It was very classical and folk centered – anything with drums was kind of from the devil. Which is perhaps why I like drums so much now”, he laughs.
In Black Taxi, he fills whatever role is needed for the song, whether it’s singing, playing trumpet, tickling keys, or bouncing around stage with a carnival drum. Often found performing shirtless, covered in body paint, and sometimes dancing ‘like an idiot’, Huleatt’s animated onstage persona hints he’s a born showman.
“I think everyone works to their strengths…I’m not Bill Withers” he laughs. “Any band has to believe in what they are saying”, he goes on. “Some people get that through just their voice, some people do it through actions, and some people do it through a combination. For me, I want to convey the urgency of what I’m feeling about the song, especially if I wrote it.”
Mayo (guitar/vocals/triangle), Krisana Soponpong (bass), and Jason Holmes (drums/vocals) round out Black Taxi, a band with an anything-goes approach to songwriting. From kazoos to glockenspiels, no instrument seems to be off-limits. “It’s never pre-planned, it just kind of happens”, Huleatt says of Black Taxi’s musical formula. “We just wanted to expand the pallette of our sound, and sometimes when you’re in the studio and have a lot of toys to play with, if you hear something you like, you add it to the mix.”
Go get We Don’t Know Any Better this week, because soon people will be screaming Black Taxi lyrics from the rooftops. Better yet, go see them at Bowery Ballroom this Saturday, before they go all Black Keys on you and start selling out the Garden.
The New York record release party will feature special guests Bright Light Social Hour, Lights Resolve, and The Attic Ends. “The show on the 14th is going to be great”, Huleatt gushes. “We are bringing in a full brass band to play on about a third of our songs, so it should be our best show to date.”
“We go all out when we play live”, he concludes. “We have to, otherwise we’re not behind our music.”
TheWaster.com | New York City