Since forming and stepping onto the New Orleans music scene in 2011, Tank and the Bangas have earned themselves a place in the international spotlight. After winning NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert contest in 2017, the group went from playing gigs in the local New Orleans circuit to touring the world and performing at some of the world’s largest festivals.
Despite the rise to stardom, the group has stayed true to their roots, continuing to blend soul, funk, R&B and hip hop in the same captivating and inventive way that they have from the very beginning.
They’re set to play on the grounds of Ballinlough Castle at Body&Soul this weekend, so we caught up with Tank for a quick chat to discuss the group’s origins, life since the Tiny Desk Concert contest, and the importance of storytelling.
Your roots are in New Orleans. What do you like about the city’s music scene and community of artists?
What I like about the music scene in New Orleans is the fact that it’s constant. It never stops but what’s really special is the underground scene going on. It’s full of dope spots, good food, great music and vibed out people.
How have things changed for you as a group since winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest? What’s been the biggest surprise?
It’s been pretty life-altering. We’re touring more than we ever have and the fans know all the music. That’s very exciting. It’s the biggest surprise for them to know all the Bangas names!
‘Smoke.Netflix.Chill’ is the first song you’ve released with a major record label. What was that experience like for you and how did it differ from indie releases?
It was Coachella on 4/20, a day that I’ll never forget. Everything that could go wrong and right was on this day and we were releasing a song that made us feel good every time we heard it. It was ole skool and organic with so many people from New Orleans on it. It was like our little brother or sister.
Your new album is coming later this year. What has been the best part about making it? The most challenging?
The best part is hearing new sounds we’ve created together. To hear it walk out of your head and start living a life on its own is so amazing to see. The most challenging is finding the time! Tour life is crazy.
You’ve said before that you like the sound and energy of playing outside and at festivals. What festival has been your favourite to play and what makes festivals so special to you?
Whoa, that’s really hard. Too hard! I loved too many to name. It’s really the people there, the kindness of the staff and the food that makes the difference! We’ve had some fests treat us like artists and some like crap and that’s the difference.
How do your roots in spoken word poetry inform the way you write lyrics and perform?
It makes me more aware of the condition of people and their very hearts. In slam you get to connect in such a short time it almost becomes an emergency that you have to get this poem across so quickly, honestly, and directly. Such a conscious art!
How does writing slam poetry differ from writing song lyrics?
There is no difference once you’re singing the words. It’s all music and poems
You have a great organic chemistry when performing. How do you go about cultivating that?
Just being the person that I want to see perform. I want to see someone who loves what they do.
Your songs have a strong storytelling element to them. What kinds of stories do you think are important to tell in today’s world?
Spiritual ones. Emotional ones. I want them to talk about life
What kinds of stories do you aim to tell through your music?
The kinds of stories with truth in them. The ones that touch the parts of yourself that you’re too afraid to look at the most. The stories that make you look at yourself or someone that you care about differently. The kind of music that makes you better as a person. Or laugh for being so darn dumb.
Tank and the Bangas play Body&Soul, June 22-24.