T Bird and the Breaks is one busy band. They released an EP, Dancehall Freakin’, on March 2 and now they are leaving Austin on April 6 for a month-long tour around the country. So UWeekly pulled out an interview from the archives with the band at FunFunFun Fest in November. There the band discussed where that self-defined “chunk” sound comes from and what they do when they’re not performing.
How would you describe your band to those who haven’t seen you before?
Tim Crane: We have a three-piece horn section, three girls to sing backup vocals and dance, and a rhythm section of bass, guitar, drums, and I sing. It’s takes a lot of influence from old-school soul, funk music of the ’60s and ’70s and kind of is updated with a newer energy of songwriting. We throw a good show. Gonna get everybody moving. It’s all love.
What brought you together to make this kind of music, I think you call it “chunk,” instead of the general garage rock type of stuff?
Sam Patlove: Tim is really the spark as well as the main songwriting force of this band, and I think it’s just our taste. It was the music we wanted to make. Tim and I used to have a rock and roll band back where we used to live in Massachusetts, and before that, he had a hip-hop album he put out. Our taste is more broad than the music we play now, but when we put the band together, we listened to a lot of old stacks and stuff like that.
TC: Sharon Jones.
SP: Sharon Jones, right. The soul movement that started in early 2000s. We were very inspired by all that and as we evolve, I think, we’re bringing more and more of all of our influences to the project.
Cody Furr: I think it’s the overlap of all of us, really. We all like a bunch of different stuff, but the overlap of everybody seemed to be, in 2007 when we started this, was what we all could sit around and talk about and were excited about. We all like a lot of different types of music, but at that moment in time, we found each other, and we were listening to that together. So we started making that.
So what is the writing process like with all these ideas throwing around? How do you ring them all up together and make it all on the same focus?
SP: I would say that, first of all, from a songwriting perspective, Tim writes 95 percent of the material. For every song that becomes a T Bird and the Breaks song, Tim probably has 10 other songs at least that he’s written. So we continue to find out what all our talents are and we just work that way. Tim can write a song, and he can bring it in and tell us how it goes. We learn it, and we add our own flavor on it. When it’s recorded, it might become a different song even at that point. But it’s really just a shared process, but the original songs mostly come from Tim.
TC: Johnny (Allison) and Sam have written some stuff, and it’s real collaborative.
What have you been up to lately?
CF: It seems to me like our focus has shifted a little bit from our live shows. We, for a long time, that’s what we did. We recorded. We made live shows. We started to branch out a little bit more and think about other media. We started making videos. We started to reach out to people to collaborate on new things, like remixes from DJs and just open up the whole idea of constant content on the Internet. While we’re doing all this, we’re working on new music and new sounds and new shows, like a new aspect of the show. We’re kind of in the process of tweaking that and perfecting that until we can release the show to the public. In the meantime, the behind-the-scenes videos and new music and remixes and all those sort of things, that’s all happening. That’s what we’re putting out now while we’re getting ready for the new show. We’re working hard, but there’s a lot of work going on, but the live show aspect has definitely taken a backseat to the other things while we kind of get a new one ready.
What kind of videos are you producing?
CF: It’s all over the place.
SP: These are really our first actual videos in four years. Not necessarily by design, but we didn’t get to it until now. We have to give props to Knuckle Rumbler who we started working with. Aaron and Jill. They just really helping us logically put it all where we want it to be.
CF: Also, I think, we have since the beginning done everything in-house. We found this collective group of people that works really well together. We all have our talents and our downfalls, but the combination of us is really, really powerful, so we do all the videos ourselves. We do all the recording, engineering, producing, playing all the instruments. Everything is in-house. It’s been difficult in ways to compete with people who are working with seasoned pros. I think that our material that we’re releasing—videos, music, whatever—it’s us. We do everything, and I’m proud of that.