This Friday, April 12, The Budos Band will release their fifth studio album, aptly titled V, following up 2014’s Burnt Offering. On the new tracks, the formerly NYC-based outfit (since their last effort, a couple of key band members have moved out West) combine their early, Afrobeat- and funk-inspired ethos with the newer, rock- and metal-influenced sound that highlighted Burnt Offering, with thick horn and keyboard lines and driving guitar and bass riffs chugging along over dense percussion.
Below, saxophonist Jared Tankel, trumpeter Andrew Greene and organist Mike Deller discuss how the band overcame geographic distance and changing personal lives to keep their chemistry flowing for the new album, why they chose to return to their album numbering convention of Budos Band I-III, the metal influences that continue to pervade their music and how the passing of Daptone Records label mate and collaborator Charles Bradley helped bring their family closer together—and even grow.
When did these songs for V begin to come together?
Jared Tankel: I think—and other guys, correct me if I’m wrong—we started getting these tunes together in sessions in 2016, maybe late 2015. We did some touring around Burnt Offering and then, like, a lot of babies were born and people moved and there were a lot of changes. You know, life happened for a minute. And it took a sec for us to figure out how we were gonna make records going forward because, like I said, things changed drastically in terms of people’s schedules and where everybody was living and all that.
Andrew Greene: Yeah, we started coming off of quasi-touring for Burnt Offering. And then, besides babies being born and people moving, there was a lot of touring around with Charles [Bradley], right? So some guys were around him for a while. And then the other thing was, wasn’t that around the time when Tommy’s older studio migrated over to Diamond Mine, too?
Mike Deller: I was just trying to think about the timing of all of that—it sounds about right to me.
Andrew: Yeah, so between Charles and moving and babies and studios relocating it was just a long time going.
Where did you all end up recording the tracks, since you were a bit more spread out this time around?
Jared: This was all tracked at the new Dunham studios—which is now known as Diamond Mine, in Long Island City in Queens. The way that we ended up writing this record was largely in the studio. In the past, our records were written over a course of time over rehearsals and things like that together at our practice studio out in Staten Island—which we still have. But, this one, again, given geography or whatever, we largely wrote in the studio as we were recording and tracking. So it was mostly composed of and conceived of and recorded all at Diamond Mine.
So that was definitely not your regular M.O. when writing for an album?
Mike: I was just going to say, that’s definitely true. We used to basically compose entire albums before we went in to record them. I’d say with Burnt Offering there might have been one or two that we started to write in the studio, but with this one there was maybe one or two that we had extremely rough outlines or demos of that we brought in, but everything was pretty much written on the spot.
Do you think that approach altered the finished product in any way, compared to your previous albums?
Mike: I think a big thing was that we had been doing a bunch of touring right before it, so we were really in-sync—and, at this point, pretty good at our craft—so I don’t think it made as much of a difference as it normally would’ve. I think we were able to just go in and do it because we were kind of hot and working already. It just happened as if it had been at our practice spot on Staten Island.
What was the moving situation with members of the band? I’m curious about the geographical hurdles with this record.
Jared: I moved to LA about three years ago now, so very early 2016. Then, Tommy [Brenneck], our guitar player who is also one of the owners of Diamond Mine, he moved out here and has been here for like a year and a half or two years. So the two of us are out here in LA, and in terms of the core band, everybody else is either in Staten Island or Brooklyn.
When you moved out there, was there some fear about what the future was for the band?
Jared: Personally, I was worried. Leaving the centrality of the Budos was one of the biggest and hardest [decisions] for me. I’m from the East Coast. I grew up there and I have family there, but all of that was a little bit secondary to physically and geographically moving away from the band, because at that point we had been together for almost 15 years. For me it was hard to move away from weekly or biweekly rehearsals and hangs that we were having and the whole concept of making records together and touring. I was worried about how exactly it was gonna look and work out. And, obviously I don’t see the guys as regularly as I used to and as regularly as I’d like to, but it actually turned out to be more or less fine. I feel like we really haven’t missed a beat. We made this record and we’re already working on the next one. We’ve got some shows lined up and at this point, whether our shows are in New York or elsewhere, we’re all gonna have to travel on some level to get there, so we all meet up and pick up where we left off.
Andrew: I think we had a lot of momentum, too, going on around the time these things started happening. With Burnt Offering, we were playing bigger shows to more and more people and then to have some of the band to move across the country was kind of a bad turn at that point. Besides the fact that we’re all friends and we don’t want to see our friends move far away—everybody’s a big part of everybody else’s life—we had this momentum going and then it kind of gets put on hold. One of the positive things that has happened, I think, is that when we do get together, if Tommy or Jared comes over to New York or [we go out there], there’s this pent-up creativity with the group, and we can be pretty prolific in 24 or 48 hours. These pent-up ideas come exploding out when we’re finally together again, which is kind of nice.
How often would you guys get together—how often would the people in LA fly to NYC—while you were working on V?
Jared: I would come east every few months for some reason or another, and then we’d end up doing a session at some point. So it was a somewhat regular schedule. And to add on to what Andrew was saying about that pent-up creativity, I think there was also a renewed sense of focus, you know? We knew that when we did get together, we needed to be productive. We’d have our time to hang out and go drink beers together and fuck off or whatever, but when we were in the studio and we pressed record, we needed to make it count. So I think we all kind of rose to that challenge together.
Andrew: There’s an urgency with each of the recordings where it’s like, “You gotta get this down in the first or second take. That’s what’s on the record and that’s how you’re coming across.”
With past records, did you take more time in the studio?
Jared: All of our records have been recorded pretty quickly. With the first three, for sure, the tracking sessions all happened within a matter of days. We’d have the material and we’d get it done.
Andrew: Yeah, it was pretty much from 48 to 72 hours for the entire album to be recorded.
Jared: That changed on this one, because we broke it up into different sessions, but I guess it was like a different sense of live recording. With the other ones, we’d go into the studio with songs written for the most part, and we’d record them all hot and live and relatively quickly. With these, we’d come in, we’d write and brainstorm and get the song together, and then we’d press record. So just a different sense of urgency.