The sound and groove of local indie band T Bird and the Breaks is something like the brilliant brain child of James Brown, Bootsy Collins and Little Richard. With strong reverences to New Orleans and the coolness of old school hip-hop, the originality of T Bird and the Breaks makes lumping them into a category not easy. They themselves can't even do it, hence why the band created their own genre, "chunk music," to describe their energetic and saucy blend of funk, rock and hip-hop.
T Bird and the Breaks recently released their latest full-length, Never Get Out of this Funk Alive, and the band will be playing on the blue stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest on Saturday at 2:05p.m.
The Daily Texan exchanged emails with lead vocalist Tim Crane about their latest album, the origin of "chunk" music and the dynamic of the group.
The Daily Texan: In your first webisode, you talked about how you ventured by Amtrak from your home-state of Massachusetts to all of the coasts. Aside from Austin's live music scene, what else factored into your decision to settle here?
Tim Crane: Brisket. My boy from back home had moved here and was working at Ruby's BBQ, so I got me some delicious smoked brisket on the hook-up.
DT: T Bird and the Breaks is comprised of a lot of local talents; I had the pleasure of working with singers Jazz Mills and Stephanie Hunt, who is also in the band Cowboy and Indian, for our multimedia music series. Since there are a lot of "breaks" for those who are also in other bands and projects, what is it like to get everyone together for rehearsals or shoots?
Crane: It can be a full-on migraine getting everybody together. Some people are chronically hard to get hold of, but once we start playing it's worth all the headaches in the world!
DT: You all always look like you're having so much fun on stage. I can't help but wonder, however, what's the band biggest goofball moment off stage?
Crane: Goofball moment, huh? Too-Bad (John Allison, guitarist) is pretty goofballs 100 percent of the time. Hanging out with him is kinda like if Hunter Thompson was a host on Sesame Street.
DT: If you had to personify the band's sound, look and attitude into a beverage (alcoholic or not), what would it be?
Crane: It depends on the night! It could be Steel Reserve to Courvoisier!
DT: This goes into "chunk music," which you described as equal parts funk, rock and hip-hop with a side of girls and brass. Now, did you create this term and genre? Can you describe more about this new blend and especially explain the add-on of girls and brass?
Crane: Yeah, I guess we coined "chunk music.” Well, y'know, there are ladies and a horn section in The Breaks, so that's a big part of the sound, but mostly it means it's all about the feel. It doesn't matter if it's a little fucked up, if the groove is right. People will ask 'what type of music do you play' and it can get old trying to pick between genres that we don't quite fit into, so we made our own.
DT: There are strong soul, funk and rock scenes here in Austin, but hip-hop is still a small pool. Why do you think that's the case?
Crane: Is it a small pool? I feel like I hear some good local shit on KAZI.
DT: About your new album —what was the writing and recording process like for your latest LP, Never Get Out of this Funk Alive?
Crane: Wow, that could take days to answer. Our first album, I feel like we had a bunch of songs that we played, went into the studio and recorded them. This second album, there was a different approach and we worked a lot of different ways. First-off, we had been putting out singles on 7" 45rpm every month so we had a good little cache of tunes there. But also, being in the studio so much for the singles, we began to build songs in different ways which I think contributed to the album's diverse, more-original, sound. Also, Sammy P (drums), who produced the album with me, has really got his engineering chops up by this point and that allowed us to spread our wings sonically. And writing, I wasn't as concerned with being able to play every track live.
DT: What was the inspiration behind it?
Crane: Everything is everything. Songs can be inspiration, inspiration can be breakfast.
DT: One of my favorite tracka on this new album is the last song, "Monkey on the Tree." The song has so much sex appeal! The song is about a man chasing after a woman. So I wanna know, did he get her?
Crane:“Monkey Ina Tree?” Well, it's not exactly true to life, but yeah, I got my girl. She goes to UT.