Sometimes I need a bit of help finding the right band in certain states. I don't think that is cheating, but then again I made this little game up so I guess I make the rules right? George Dow, A music reviewer I have never met and barely know electronically suggested New Hampshire's Tan Vampires for me at the back end of 2011 and it was an instant attraction.
It would seem since I was alerted to the band there has been other suitors, the most dominant being huge US radio station NPR (National Public Radio) who have been raving about the band on their 'All Things Considered' show. They have also been featured more recently in the NME here in the UK. In an opportunity to blow my own trumpet I will say I got there first!
Often when listening to their brilliant 'For Physical Fitness' album vocalist Jake Mehrmann has a similar style to that of Chris Martin, but that is where any similarities end as, in my humble opinion, musically Tan Vampires are much stronger and not as...well....you know....Coldplay.
Still, enjoy the album below, find out more about them from our interview and enjoy this great band who have a bright future.
CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. I suppose the first question is - who are Tan Vampires and where in the world would we find you?
Tan Vampires is, in no particular order (actually it's alphabetical order by fourth letter of last name): Mike Effenberger, Mike Filitis, Nick Phaneuf, Jim Rudolf, Jake Mehrmann, and Chris Klaxton. We live mostly in the NH seacoast area, which can be found by passing through the back of most residential closets/wardrobes, or, alternately, by hopping on I95 around the Boston area and driving north for about an hour.
CMM: For the benefit of people like me who have never been to New Hampshire, how would you best describe your state?
NH is pretty much the Promised Land. I mean, we've all consciously chosen to live here, so I guess that says something about our fondness for it. The people are friendly and warm. The landscape is beautiful; we've got mountains, beaches, forest, lakes, and rivers. We're within about a hour's drive of all these things, as well as Boston and Portland, ME. I would be remiss not to mention that autumn here is probably the most beautiful season in just about any place I can think of. There may be an impression by people unfamiliar with the state that it's perched on a glacier somewhere in the frozen north. While it does seem that NH used to be cold and snowy for about five or six months every year, these days Global Weirding seems to have altered that. I mean, hell, it was like 70 degrees today, and it's December. I actually really love the cold, so this year has been a bit frustrating on that front. A lot of people seem to be happy about the warm weather, though.
CMM: How long has the group been together and how did it all start?
I think the full band has been playing together for 3 or 4 years now. It started out with me (Jake) recording an album in 2007 for the RPM Challenge. I had been in a band for several years prior which Mike (Filitis) was also in that had just broken up, and I felt like I needed to do something other than sit around and feel sorry for myself. I played the tunes out solo for a couple years and then decided the dude with a guitar route wasn't really for me. These guys were all people I wanted to play with, so I approached them about being in the band, and they, thankfully, said yes.
CMM: How best would you describe your music?
That's actually a really difficult question to answer. We've never tried to be the kind of band that plays one style or genre of music. I think that would be dishonest of us, and, frankly, not much fun. There are certainly elements of each of our tastes and backgrounds that show up in the music, but the recipe, so to speak, changes from song to song. There are elements of electronic music, folk, hip hop, soul, rock, dance music, jazz, and many more styles than I can list, but that doesn't really give anyone any idea of what the music actually sounds like. I could try to describe it forever, but really, the quickest, best way to find out what a band sounds like is to just Google them. That way you can find a recording and experience it for yourself.
CMM: What is the music scene like in New Hampshire right now? What the genre of choice out there at the moment?
NH is a small place, but despite it's size there are a lot of bands and musicians doing different, cool things. We've got psychedelic rock, power pop, stoner/doom metal, garage rock, rap, bluegrass, jazz, punk, hardcore, chiptune, soul/funk, surf, country, blues, reggae. Most of the guys in Tan Vampires play in at least half a dozen different groups. It's a fairly tight community around here, musically, and most musicians know and are friends with most other musicians in the area. There doesn't seem to be any one genre that is dominant, and most folks seem to like it that way.
CMM: One thing I am hoping to find in this series is some kind of link between where a band is based and their music. Do you feel as a group you are influenced by your surroundings and the scene around you?
Probably. We do some pretty disparate things from song to song, and maybe being in a place without any sort of genre based scene is good for us in that way. It's not like there are 15 dubstep acts or something and we're part of some insular world. We're part of a community where, for example, our keyboard player Mike Effenberger might be playing with a salsa band one night and the next night he's playing organ in a soul band, or accordion in an old-time jazz band, or he's playing experimental ambient music. I think we feel like we can, and should, do whatever we want musically, regardless of whether if it adheres to some abstract concept of what our "sound" is supposed to be. If it excites us then hopefully it excites a few other people as well.
CMM: What other influences does the band have, musical or otherwise?
Our influences are all over the place. The music I've heard in the company of the guys in the band in the past couple months includes John Coltrane, Tame Impala, Gillian Welch, Jay Z and Kanye, St. Vincent, Boards of Canada, and Clinic. We all like good beer and whiskey (and whisky). I think we all share a fondness for cold weather and snow, which is a helpful quality when you live in New England.
CMM: Could you perhaps give a run down of the music you have released so far?
We just released our first full length, "For Physical Fitness," in September. Before that the only recording we had was the aforementioned RPM Challenge album I made several years back.
CMM: Are you able to get out an play live much?. Where are your favourite places to play both in and out of state?
We play out pretty regularly. Playing venues around Portsmouth and Dover, NH, such as the Press Room and the Barley Pub is always fun for us, since those are the places we like to hang out anyway. Boston has been good to us, too. We play there frequently. And I'm looking forward to being back at Arlene's Grocery in NY on Dec. 15. We had a blast playing there during CMJ in October, and I'm expecting this to be a great show as well.
CMM: What's next in the pipeline for you?
We've been hard at work on new music. The first record took a pretty long time to come together, and we had a couple of false starts and hit a few bumps along the way. Now that it's finished, and released I think we all want to take advantage of the momentum we've got going to hopefully put out something new in the next year, even if it's just a few songs. We haven't been able to hit the road as hard as I'd like yet, so I'm hoping a tour will be in the not too distant future. In the meantime we'll keep playing shows around New England, and in NY, and we'll keep writing songs.
CMM: And finally, where can people reach out to you online and where can they get hold of your stuff?
People can reach us and our music through our website at www.tanvampires.com. They can also like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or I think we might even still have a myspace page if anyone still uses that. And of course, the best way to interact with us is by coming to a show. I think we're pretty friendly people, and we like to meet and chat with people who are interested in what we do, so come to a show and come say hi.
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