While As Tall As Lions give their farewell to Australia before they call it quits for good, another project has already been blooming - in fact, this project began while As Tall As Lions were touring their final record, You Can't Take It With You. That project is KILIMANJARO. Featuring ATAL members guitarist Saen Fitzgerald, drummer Cliff Sarcona, bassist Julio Tavarez and trumpeter Duncan Toothill. That band plays an improv - free form style of music, with roots in acid jazz, prog rock and modern indie. One of the most exciting bands and group of musicians around since you never know what you are going to get. Before they headed off to Australia to link up with former ATAL singer Dan Nigro, I spoke to KILIMANJARO's Duncan Toothill as we discussed the band's style, sound and what is expected 0r unexpected....
Take a look at my interview with Duncan below:
You are a jazz trumpeter and have worked in alternative and art rock for a few years now. How did you get into that?
A good teacher and a good record collection.
With the various styles of music you play, do you think you will ever release a solo record?
Yes, eventually, but people can't handle it yet.
Being not one of the original members of ATAL and coming into the band as a touring member, how did you link up with the guys?
I was playing in a noise rock band in a practice space on Long Island, when Julio knocked on the door and asked me if I wanted to jam. So I followed him into the practice room next door, where Julio, Cliff, and Nate Patterson (The Receiving End of Sirens, The Dearhunter, Black Cards) were jamming. We played what I can only describe as freak out jazz for about half an hour and they all seemed to dig my playing, so Julio asked me if I would ever be down to play with ATAL. I gave him my number and told him to call me. He did about a week later (to play the Mercury Lounge) and we started working together from that point on.
How did Kilimanjaro form from ATAL?
We were on tour with MuteMath, when Dan got sick and had to fly home to New York. To our dismay, our manager cancelled the next show. There's nothing worse then being on tour and not playing music, so we decided that instead of canceling the next week of shows, we would just get up on stage and jam. So for the next couple weeks that's what we did. The response from the crowd was so overwhelming that it quickly formed into a concept for a band.
Was it odd do you think for the guys to be working without Dan for the first time?
What we do with Kilimanjaro is completely different to ATAL, so we approached it as a different project, rather than ATAL without Dan.
Kilimanjaro is a collective fusion of various sounds and styles, was that the idea going into the band?
I believe that the most important thing in music, rather than having good songs or good technique, is having musicians that can form meaningful connections when they play, regardless of what style of music or instrument they play. If you don't have that, then you've already lost; you can have a band of the sickest session musicians in the world, but if they can't connect it's meaningless. So with Kilimanjaro we kept style out of it, our concept was always "no restrictions", that we could go anywhere and that anyone could do anything at any given moment, as long as we did it together.
With so many styles and sounds in Kilimanjaro, we hear a bit Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” era, Ghostland Observatory, Holy Fuck and others. Are these some of your influences? Who or what inspires Kilimanjaro?
Miles is definitely a big influence for all of us, as well as Kneebody, CAN, Alice Coltrane, Jaga Jazzist, D'Angelo, and Jimmy Johns.
When recording, since the band is free form, experimental and improv. Do you go in with any basis of how you want a song to sound, how you want it to start or end? Is there any organization to the recording or do you go in – press play and jam?
We enable the record button, press play and jam, then we cut together the parts until we have a cohesive record.
You have released two EPs, will there be a full length LP?
It's in the pipeline.
How you released the EP’s was very interesting, it was a small price to download them from your website and no releasing any physical copies. Will there be physical releases? Do you think the idea of physical format is dead and download is the only way to go now?
I like having a hard copy of a record, but the internet has made it a lot easier to get your music out there. Since we're not on a label, releasing music online is our best option right now. That's not to say there won't be physical copies in the future.
Since the band is all instrumental and improv, do you think you will ever work with a singer or have someone guest on vocals?
Like I said, nothing's off limits, you'll just have to wait and see.
Now that ATAL are gone. How do you feel about their departure? How do you feel to have been a part of the band?
It's definitely sad, it has been an amazing 2-3 years for me, an experience I'd recommend to anyone. But there is still a lot more music to come from the six of us, in all different formats - everything from Blocks (Dan Nigro), Apres Vous (Rob Parr), Kilimanjaro, my own band (so new it has no name), Julio's acoustic solo record, Saen's hip hop record, and much much more in the works; and to me that's exciting as hell.