Since the fall of As Tall As Lions in 2010, many of the bands former members have gone on to create other projects and bands, one of the latest is that of former Lions bassist Julio Tavarez's new band THEblack&THEwhite. Based out of LA, Tavarez has been working his producer Justin Kaupp and former bandmate and Lions drummer Cliff Sarcona on the project. Tavarez, influenced from everything from R&B, trip-hop, electronica to hardcore and mixes all of his influences and emotions together for this band. The band, who just released their debut EP, Futures, are currently on the road in support of their new effort. We caught up with Tavarez to speak about his new project, going solo, and his past work. Take a look at our interview below:
After As Tall As Lions split, you and many of the band members were involved with KILIMANJARO Collective, then you formed THEblack&THEwhite, what happened with KILIMANJARO? Is that project done?
That project sort of ran out of steam. I think that was a big transitional period for everyone. The concept of exploring and expanding is really what fueled it all and eventually I felt like coming back to earth and get back to writing songs. Cliff and I have talked about bringing back the concept again with some different people playing….maybe a new name. We shall see.
Forming THEblack&THEwhite it is the first time you are fronting a band, what is this experience like?
The whole thing is very natural. I am natural performer. Its just another side of myself that I couldn't fully express in the past. The freedom is really what I love the most. Dancing is a incredible source of expression and for me another form of improvising.
When you initially launched the project to the public for the first time earlier this year, what was going through your mind? What were your emotions like letting people in to criticize the work you have been doing on your own for so long?
You can't worry about criticism when making art. That is only a negative filter. It stunts your growth. Of course at some point you go "Shit, what are people gonna think of this???" but I honestly didn't think anything like that until the night before we were releasing it. It was a nervous excitement. I had a good feeling about the songs, I' ve always new that there was a place in the world for them. But, yea, there's always going to be people that are going to hate on you or think you owe them something. Which there was. Some people were really pissed that I started a new band, that it wasn't what that they expected, that this solidified the fact that ATAL would not be coming back. What can you do? This is my life, my music. All I can do is follow my instinct to where I feel I should go next no matter what anyone has to say about it. I don't want to be a one-trick-pony , playing in the same band for 20 years. At the end of it all, I want to be remembered as a gypsy.
The band is you, Justin Kaupp and former ATAL bandmate and longtime friend, Cliff Sarcona, what is it like after all these years and various projects to still be working together?
Again, very natural. It would only make sense that Cliff would be playing with me. We have a strong musical dialog that we have built up over the years that is very important to me and important to how I want the band to sound.
When can we expect a full LP?
I’m working on tunes currently so….I don’t know…next year, early next year?
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard of your before?
I have no idea!!! Haha. Being on the inside you always have a different perspective of what’s going on. I started going on what people tell ME they think we sound like. I've heard a lot of interested things. Prince meets Pink Floyd, Electro Smashing Pumpkins, Peter Gabriel with D'Angelo singing (personal favorite). Its definitely Pop music. That’s all I know for sure.
Who are some of your influences?
So many. Ive been really getting into Lee Fields. He has this track called "Honey Dove" that is my favorite jam at the moment. I love Hector Lavoe, Bjork, Fela Kuti, Tokimonsta, Peter Gabriel, Talk Talk, Brazilian Girls, Frank Ocean, CAN, Pink Floyd, Andre 3000, Vincent Gallo, the films of Andy Warhol, Melvin Van Peebles, Fellini, photography of Francesca Woodman, Marina Abramovic So many.
This band is a mixture of various sounds and styles, how do you handle that live on stage?
We certainly try to make the live experience as free as we can considering. There are a lot of live triggers and samples, but we try to keep things simple and effective. You can get caught up with a lot of technical mumbo jumbo when working within the electronic world but we never considered this an "electronic" band because there are a lot more live qualities that people are probably unaware of.
What has it been like playing these songs live?
Playing the songs live has been kinda surreal. We recorded this record quite a while ago. Never really planned on putting it out and now here we are, on stage, bringing this things to life. Its been incredible.
Your other projects were a full band experience, now it is just down to three people. What is it like collaborating with a smaller number a people?
Less stress. Less filters. When it comes time to record, it happens quick.
You are originally from Long Island but relocated to LA, how has the city and change of atmosphere influenced this band?
Not really sure how LA has influenced the band. The record was made in NY and only the live version of the group formed out here. One thing I have noticed is that things picked up quickly. There is always music going on in Los Angeles and the feeling of wanting to be the first to hear it. I guess that worked out in our favor. Many of our friends live out here and have been really helpful with starting the group….friends that I wouldn't have necessarily met in Long Island.