Interview: NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Winner, Tank and The Bangas
March 14th has always been a special day for me. Every year on this day I gain a year of life, knowledge, and wisdom. March 14th, 2017 proved to be a particularly special birthday because I got to chat with Tank and The Bangas. It’s a birthday I will never forget.
Originating in New Orleans, Tank and The Bangas have all the qualities that tie them to the city that birthed them while manifesting a stand out energy all their own. Rummaging through their sound like a thrift store hippie, you’ll find the Bangas to provoke a musical reference of Rhythmic Soul and Spoken word among other genres such as Rock, Gospel, Funk, and Folk. The Bangas’ various musical techniques coupled with the instilling play on lyrics from the lead vocalist, Tank and The Bangas have quilted a unique sound that singles them as one of the most distinctive groups to come out of New Orleans.
The group has graced the cover of one of New Orleans most recognized magazines, "OffBeat" and recently won band of the year at the New Orleans Big Easy Awards. The group has opened for acts such as Lianne La Havas, PJ Morton, Galactic, Big Freedia, The Revivalist, and The Soul Rebels. Tank and The Bangas are sure to give you an experience you won't forget!
That evening Tank (lead vocalist), Merell (piano), Albert (saxophone), and Joshua (percussion/drummer) joined me to talk NPR’s Tiny Desk win, creative processes, and so much more!
Q: How long has Tank and The Bangas been in existence?
Joshua: We’ve been a group since 2011.
Q: Wow seriously? I’m just sitting here wondering why it took me until 2016 to hear you for the first time. What does your creative process look and feel like? Who/what does it involved?
Tank: Well I bring material to Josh, the creative director first. After a lot of no’s we arrive at a yes. That’s when I bring the ideas to the rest of the group. Then we have a jam session where everyone adds something special and it’s magical.
Q: Tank, as a double threat (poet and vocalist) I have to ask which one was your first love?
Tank: Definitely poetry. I used to sing with my three older sisters and I didn’t think my voice compared to theirs. I took to writing while practicing with them to become the vocalist I am today.
Q: You all seem so expressive and fun on stage. When you’re off the stage, do you identify as an introvert or an extrovert?
Merrell: I’m definitely an introvert. After shows I have to spend time alone to recharge.
Tank: I’m an extrovert on and off the stage but sometimes after a show I find myself feeling the need to fly away. My friends and family see the most extroverted parts of me.
Q: What’s your favorite part of performing?
Albert: Knowing that people are really listening and understanding what I do. I enjoy seeing my audience connect with the music on a primal level.
Joshua: Being able to breathe and play my music. I’m comfortable when I’m performing because I’m in my element.
Q: In the Tiny Desk concert you mentioned Jazzland, the theme park that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. How do New Orleans culture influence your music?
Tank: For me, life started after the storm. I adopted a newfound outlook on life and cherished the people and things that are closest to me. My music is a representation of everything that embodies the culture. I add in sayings and things that New Orleans natives understand so my art always feels like home.
Q: What can we expect from Tank and The Bangas in the future?
Albert: BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS.
Joshua: More music, more shows, tours!
Tank: Collabs with D’Angelo, Missy Elliott, and Bruno Mars.
Do yourself a favor and check out Tank and The Bangas Tiny Desk contest video and concert!