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The Budos Band

A Subtle Threat

The Budos Band is back. After a brief set on one of the side stages at Outside Lands this past summer, the Budos Band brings its heavy instrumental "Staten Island soul" to The Independent on January 15th and 16th. Look out for them at your neighborhood bar, as well. Jared Tankel (baritone saxophone) spoke with SF Station in a phone interview from New York.

SF Station: It’s hard to talk about the Budos Band without mentioning the horns. Can you tell us where that sound comes from?

Jared Tankel (JT): We started off more as an Afrobeat band. That heavy horn section and that aesthetic and quality is something we’ve had since we started. The other influences are funk and Ethiopian jazz, which are both heavy on the horn.

We’re really just a horn-driven band, and the horns occupy the melody and melodic voice of the group. For Andrew (trumpet) and I, it’s kind of awesome because we get to be up front and lead the charge. In a way, we are lucky because a lot of groups have a horn section that has more of a backup role for vocalists.

SF Station: The band has been described as the “Quintessence of Staten Island Soul.” What does that mean?

JT: It’s kind of a self-fashioned genre and term. We are definitely proud of our Staten Island roots, and the majority of the band grew up there. We rehearse there and think of ourselves as a Staten Island band, as opposed to a New York band or a Brooklyn band. I think part of that is because Staten Island is more removed from New York than any other borough. I think that sense of separation lets us create our own sound and our scene; we’re not part of some Brooklyn music scene that’s happening. We have a crappy studio on a dead-end street in Staten Island, and nobody bothers us there. We’re really free to create our own thing.

SFS: Of course, Wu Tang Clan also represents Staten Island. When are we going to see the collaboration?

JT: There is a mixtape that actually came out a couple of weeks ago called the Wudos Band. Somebody took Budos and Wu Tang and mashed them together. It actually sounds pretty good. The Source’s website had a little link to it, so that was pretty cool.

Our guitar player played a couple of years ago in a band the backed Raekwon up, so there are hints of collaboration. Wu Tang is a group that we have all liked for a long time, and the fact that we are both from Staten Island is the source of a lot of pride.

SFS: You can hear some similarities in some of the darker qualities of songs by the Budos Band and Wu Tang.

JT: Definitely. RZA’s production, especially from back in the early days with 36 Chambers, has that gritty dark quality, and it’s something that we definitely share.

SFS: What are some of the influences that you personally bring to the band?

JT: Heavy metal, hard rock, and psychedelic rock are becoming more an influence for the band. When we were writing Budos III, I think we expected it to sound more like a rock record or heavy metal record. I think it’s the sound that we had in our minds, instead of what came through on the album. Our live show is a testament to that. More and more, our shows are becoming a little noisier, heavier and more straight rock, instead of a funk or soul show. I think that influence is growing.

SFS:There’s a Cobra on Budos III and a scorpion is on the cover of the last record, where’s the obsession with deadly animals coming from?

JT: I think it’s the threat of danger. There’s a certain subtlety to it, and we like the imagery of having a dangerous creature that could attack, but maybe it won’t. There’s a certain quiet power to that. It’s not right in your face as being dangerous and threatening but there’s a subtle ominous feature to it.

SFS: I read on your website that a “legendary Budos bar crawl” might be in the works.

JT: Yes, yes. We’ve been out there several times now, and our drummer’s girlfriend used to live there. He developed a couple of bar crawls so I imagine we’ll go to Zeitgeist and Toronodo, and some other spots. We’ll give them a lot of business while we’re there.

SF Station: What else can we expect in 2011? What’s your resolution?

JT: We’ve developed this category of ourselves as Afro soul, and I think more and more we are becoming a rock band … We’ve figured out how to make rock ’n’ roll out of Afro soul. We want to make people think about what American rock music actually is, because that’s what we think we are doing. Hopefully folks won’t be so dead set on trying to pin us into some sort of Afro beat, Afro funk, jazz, jam band label, and they’ll realize we’re just out there trying to have fun and rock out.

The Budos Band performs January 15th and 16th at The Independent. Tickets are $20 and the show starts at 9pm.