Megan joins us again today for an interview. With LADY. F-ING. GAGA.
I'm just kidding. World, meet Father Figures, a "zombie jazz" band playing this weekend in Austin.
Now people, have you ever been to The Elephant Room on Congress? Well, this post has nothing to do with The Elephant Room, or Congress, but since we're about to discuss jazz I feel the need to inform Austin's hipster contingent about this (literally) underground den of thrills. It was where Ross and I went on our very first "friend date," followed a few days after that by our first PROPER date. And here I am referring to Team America.
Anyway, this is all to say I'm really happy that a hip little Brooklyn band is bringing jazz to Red River's strip of beer-soaked, tight-panted, SXSW-tred music venues. Here's Megan with a little some-in' some-in' from Father Figures, and hopefully, you'll be as pleased as I am that parts of this interview are kind of hilarious.
In the same vein, Brooklyn is like a sister city to Austin, and I feel a sense of kinship whenever her eclectic talent makes its way to Austin. When I heard about ‘zombie jazz’ by the Brooklyn-based band Father Figures, I had to hear them for myself.
Since they swing into town tonight for their Austin tour stop (details at the bottom), the fine young men of Father Figures (Adam Schatz, Jas Walton, Ross Edwards, Spencer Zahn and Ian Chang) took the time to answer some of my pressing questions. Check out our conversation below, and see you tonight at the show.
The song “Flight of the Tumbleweed” charms me, and it’s not just because I own cowboy boots. Did you write this song just for me?
Yes we did. It's a combination of our affinity for really awful plays on words and brief compositions that motivate improvisation in fun ways.
Did that answer your question?
For now. Moving on…you’re neither zombies nor is your music entirely jazz. Discuss.
Well, to be fair, you don't know that we're not zombies. I'm pretty sure we aren't. (Though we could turn at any moment.) The genre ‘zombie jazz’ represents our music stemming from jazz's history of strong melody and improvisation, and combines it with a zombie's instinctual and often destructive energy and motivation. It's a little ambiguous, but I think we've been growing into the term, and when we explain this to people after we play, it seems to make more sense.
Austin might be known as the live music capital of the world, but almost every band out of Brooklyn proves it has a fair share of eclectic talent. How does your band stand out?
We're bringing improvisation to the rock clubs. Not solos, not free jazz, but improvisation; where the band collectively composes together, pushes one other with our sounds, ideas, and, occasionally pre-determined improvisational cues. We weave from our composed music in and out of the improvised, without it being totally clear as to which is which, creating a new plane of sonic spectacle. It's been a blast to bring our music to spaces that have been presenting rock bands and use the energy of the space to help make our music for different people in each city.
How do you plan to conquer Austin when you play on July 31st?
We're ALSO playing on July 30th! At Headhunters. 10 pm. How about that??
Also, Jas says: “Artillary first. Then we send in the calvalry. Then the infantry. Then the saxophone section.”
Also, Ross says: “We'll convince the Austinites to conquer themselves.”
But I think we'll just eat all of your breakfast tacos.
What do you hope the immediate future holds for Father Figures, aside from breakfast tacos, tequila, and Barton Springs?
Barton Springs! Let me add that to the list.
This was our first major tour, and we've just released our first record, a vinyl double LP on Museum People records, a label I started with a fellow in Japan (order it at www.museum-people.com). It's the dawning of a new era for us for sure. The uphill battle we face is getting folks in the DIY rock world to let us in, even though we have saxophones and stuff.
We always work better with other rock bands than with other instrumental groups, so the next step is to try and get an open-minded booking agent and record label interested in what we're doing, to help push us further into that scene. Folks are definitely ready, so we'll see what happens, but no matter what,we're just going to keep playing and having a blast doing it. We're also going to start work on a new record in the fall.