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Tambersauro

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Photography by Nathan Nix
Tambersauro don’t merely perform music but do something more analogous to juggling music. Guitarist Mike Blackshear jumps between the melodic and the angular. Bassist Jeff Price isn’t content with just holding down the low end but flies across the fret board as if he were the lead guitarist. Drummer Lance Higdon is front and center, facing away from the audience, flailing like a tri-athlete pouring out every ounce of strength he has available. Lance doesn’t merely attack his kit but anything else on stage and seems to operate on some purely instinctual level. The band plays tight complex structures that shift time signatures, tempos, and key almost constantly. Yet, despite the music’s clear structure, both individually and as a unit, they are able to reach out and grab inspiration from the club, the audience, and each other to jump into flights of improvisation. They are a band whose unpredictability and playfulness suggests music is a giant sandbox in which to explore and play with all manner of possibilities.

“This band is like Houston,” says Lance, “there’s no zoning. We’re a smorgasbord band and the funny thing is we’ve been at it so long that it’s no longer weird. This is just what we do. When we got together, we wanted to focus on those less accessible elements of music.”

“I didn’t conceive of this as a Mathrock band,” says Jeff, “but Lance injected that element. He brings in the technical, noise, improvisational, and Latin beat elements while Mike brings in the melodic. I put them together – I’m the meeting ground.”

Lance elucidates, “Mike likes structure and I push for abstraction, but it’s not half conventional and half abstract; it’s a tension – a synthesis – that’s sincere and genuine. We break down ideas and hash them out to reach that overarching thing we want to be- music without influence. That’s not to say that we’re beyond influence but that we don’t want to merely imitate.”

“We’re in constant pursuit of developing our own identity.” says Jeff, “Some bands you hear one note and you know who it is. The bands we grew up listening to were bands that were pioneering and singular. If you listen between the cracks you can hear where they are creating their own identity. It’s not about making a record; it’s about creating a legacy.”

Over the last five years, that search for an identity has produced one split 10” and two albums including the newest – Theories Of Delusional Origin. “This new album,” says Lance, “was a long and complex process. Half of it was constructed in the studio and it was grueling process that, at times, would take the fun out of it. We did a ton takes on the drums for ‘Make Water Sand.’ Scott Ritter (who plays percussion on the album) listened to it at one point and said it was all technical and no aggression so that became a challenge – to marry those two.”

Challenging themselves and each other to be better musicians seems an unwritten code among Tambersauro. ”If we think it’s too conventional,” Says Lance, “we tweak it. I try to challenge myself and try to play as a non-drummer.”

“Mike was influenced by metal,” says Jeff, “so, whenever his guitar sounds too metal, we tell him to rethink it. We busted his chops for months and he was such a sport about it. In this band, nobody gets their way but, in the end, everyone gets our way and the result is something we can all appreciate. We don’t know where it’s going and we wouldn’t want to.”

Lance points to Free Jazz drummer Han Bennink for inspiration, “He’s almost 70 years old and he’ll walk out and play on a 2×4. That’s one thing we strive for – that element of play where there is meaning but no point – where you ask ‘What happens if I do this and take a chance?’”

“Most bands only have a few years,” says Jeff, “and we’re such a niche band, why not do what you like? We’re not about marketing ourselves and putting ourselves in a box. We wear jumpsuits because we’re trying to avoid looking cool. We’re trying to erase pretensions and have no ego. Our music is more important.”

Why have such an aggressive performance and why play live at all given that goal? Lance replies, “I’m not against performing or having fun. When we play, we play like we’re going to die – like it’s the apocalypse.”

“Rock has a default arrogance.” says Jeff, “You don’t sit there quietly saying ‘I’m just playing Rock. Don’t’ mind me.’ Of course there’s performance but people can tell when it’s sincere and when it’s not. I can feel a sense of joy and it’s contagious. We love just playing together but you have to get out there. Pete Townsend once said that you put your stuff out there in order to have it reflected back so you can progress. If you don’t put it out there, you run in circles. You wouldn’t make music if you didn’t think it was worth hearing.”

Jeff also sees it as a way to challenge the status quo. “I think being creative makes the powers that be irritated. A show is the last place a guy like me should be, but why should I be told that I can’t have that part of my life? Once a woman saw that I had a picture and asked what it was. I told her it was my band and she said ‘You play in a band? You need to grow up!’ and walked off. At first I thought that I had a lot of egg on my face. After I thought about it, I realized it was the best thing she could have said because if I haven’t grown up then I haven’t stopped living.”

Tambersauro’s new album “Theories Of Delusional Origin” will be available September 2nd. Their CD release show will be October 18th with Hollywood Black at The Backroom (behind the Mink).

Links:
Tambersauro on Myspace (Link)
Tambersauro.com (Link)
Esotype Records (Link)

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