Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Exclusive Interview with Tamba Cha Cha

As 2006 starts in earnest i was able to sit down with two thirds of one of the most talked about bands in indie rock today, Tamba Cha Cha. Made up of singer Orlando Gree, guitar/keytarist Peter McKellen and drummer Keiko Fujiwara this group of unknowns made a name for themselves last year with their home-produced debut Texugos BinĂ¡rios. Compared to Neutral Milk Hotel, Devo, and Pavement with a little bit of Run Dmc and Captain and Tenille thrown in for good measure, the band has thrown the indie press into a frenzy with their striking debut and brash live show. I sat down with the Orlando and Peter just before new years in the bands downtown LA flat where they were working on new material.

TQT: Are you suprised by the attention paid to your album? It made quite a lot of top 10 lists this year

OG: Yeah i mean its the first thing we have ever actually recorded so we didn't think anyone would hear it other than our circle of friends. But to have Matador and Sub Pop calling us offering to put it out is overwhelming.

PM: The money being thrown our way is ridiculous.

OG: I bought 17 hamburgers at In n' Out just because i could.

TQT: You've recieved a lot of publicity for selling thousands of copies of the album yourself with no distribution ala Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Are you close to signing with a label or have you given any thought into taking CYHSY's lead and signing just a distributrion deal?

OG: I might be wrong, but i think that the moment you can buy our album at Target, we are yesterdays news. I am not sure we ever want to go down that road. Its all about staying current and fresh. Self distribution fits us fine.

PM: Yeah, i have my brother doing the shipping. I don't even have to pay him.

TQT: But isnt the point of making music to get people to hear it?

PM: Yes and no. I think the point is to get the right people to hear it. We like who our audiance is and we don't want our fans to be people who shop at Target.

TQT: Ok, but i shop at Target and i thought your album was very good. Does that mean you don't want me as a fan just because Target offers great deals on humidifiers?

OG: But you didnt buy our album at Target so its cool.

TQT: I don't really see the distinction.

OG: It's complicated man.

TQT: Apparently.

(At this point Orlando leaves to heat up a Stoufers Macaroni and Cheese.)

TQT: So you've been able to tour a lot this last sixth months. What has the general response been to the live show?

PM: I think its been great. I think there are a lot of eager music fans out there. They don't even care if we are very good on a given night. In Boston, Orlando's voice cracked a dozen times a song, and the audiance didnt seem to even notice. They just screamed for more. We sold more cds that night than any other. Its great to look out on a sea of little black army hats and know you can do no wrong.

TQT: You've had quite a few celebrity fans voice their support of the album. David Bowie said you were his favorite band of the moment.

PM: Yeah that was really nice. But honestly he says that every five minutes.

(Orlando returns with his mac and cheese.)

OG: Are you talking about Bowie?

PM: Yeah.

OG: He calls me every half hour. Its getting creepy.

(They Laugh)

TQT: So whats next? Your debut was so new and yet familiar. Where do you go from there?

OG: Well we are writing and recording new material. It's really exciting i think. We are trying to branch out in a lot of new directions.

PM: We got so many comparisons to Neurtal Milk Hotel that we are trying to branch away from that poppy sound. We are going for a larger sound. We have brought in a Mariachi band to record as well as the LA Boys Choir. I started playing the harpsicord. Its epic and thematic.

TQT: What would you say the theme of the new material is?

OG: Um, well its a song cycle about the storming of the Turkish fort at Hirsov in 1773 by Russian forces.

TQT: Really?

OG: Yeah. Using a lot of disparate elements we hope to tell a really powerful tale spread across 2 cd's.

TQT: So it will be a double album?

PM: Well you can't tell the story of Aleksandr Suvorov on a single disc. Many have tried, all have failed.

Part 2 of the interview tomorrow. Tamba Cha Cha hopes to release their new album in late spring. Their current album is available through their website and insound.