It’s an extremely difficult task for any band in our scene to match the raw energy and fun Turkuaz brings to the stage at each and every show. The 9-piece powerfunk outfit from Brooklyn has accumulated a loyal following through consistent coast-to-coast touring since buckling down for a dedicated life on the road in 2012. Birthed on the musical breeding grounds of Berklee College of Music by Dave Brandwein (guitar, vocals) and Taylor Shell (bass), the tandem originally met in 2005 and have since recruited Craig Brodhead (guitar, keys), Michelangelo Carubba (drums), Chris Brouwers (trumpet, keys), Greg Sanderson (tenor sax), Josh Schwartz (baritone sax, vocals), Sammi Garrett (vocals, percussion) and Shira Elias (vocals) to complete their current stack.
Just this year alone Turkuaz has accomplished several sonic milestones countelss musicians can only dream of achieving in their lifetimes. For one, they provided direct support for Brooklyn’s Lettuce to a packed crowd at the legendary Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. A month later the crew performed a prime time set in That Tent at the epicly proportioned Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN. With so many live music accolades conquered this year, the band is gradually shifting some of its focus to producing and releasing their follow-up LP to 2015’s Digitonium, a funk record highly received by publications like Live for Live Music, Relix Magazine, and JamBase.
With improvisational bands like Turkuaz, however, the live performance is always king and Turkuaz goes above and beyond with their show production, diverse instrumentation, costumes, and attention to detail to deliver a marquee live experience for their fans each night. For years each band member has selected and stuck with a different, characteristic bright color to wear on stage. This is just one example of many that helps describe the showmanship and care Turkuaz displays on stage. Tonight after Phish the band is performing its first ever Phish After-Party at the renowned Irving Plaza in Manhattan. Doors open at 11pm, show kicks off at 11:30pm, and advanced tickets can be purchased at this link. Ahead of the show I caught up with the founder, bandleader, lead guitarist and vocalist, Dave Brandwein, to talk about Turkuaz’s new album, Game of Thrones, the meaning behind the name “Turkuaz,” and their upcoming Phish After-Party.
Sound Fix: Hey Dave – thanks for taking some time to catch up with us. To kick things off, Turkuaz is performing a Phish After-Party tonight (Tuesday 7/25) at the storied Irving Plaza around 11:30pm. Tell us about your history performing after Phish. Is this the first time? In what ways, if any, has Phish influenced the band Turkuaz is today?
Dave Brandwein: We’ve performed after Phish hundreds of times I can only assume, but never in the same city! (That was an unfunny joke, by the way). This will be our first Official After-Party for a Phish show. With each of us home in New York City most of the time during Baker’s Dozen we kinda figured — why not? Phish has had an influence on a few of our band members directly, and many of us indirectly. I think the scene we play in is an extension of the scene Phishas created over the years, and they’re sort of the reigning kings of live bands in a sense. Though we’re a very different type of group, we’ve got lots of love for Phish and definitely for Phish fans. Plus, they invented jamming, right?
SF: Without revealing too much, what can you tell us about the band’s plans and set list for Irving Plaza?
DB: We’re gonna give people a healthy blend of fan favorites and sprinkle in a lot of new material as well. We’ve been working on some new songs lately and we feel like this will be a fun time to premier some of it. We will do zero songs written before 1940 or after 2017.
SF: Turkuaz’s last album, Digitonium, was released back in 2015. Is there a new studio album in the works? What can you share with us about new music here?
DB: Yes there is a new album in the works. We loved Digitonium a lot and we’re taking our time a bit with this new record. It’s definitely less of a theme album and more just a collection of really good songs, but we’re equally excited about it. We filmed a video recently, and we’ll start peppering some of the material out here and there late this year and early next year. We hope to have an actual release date decided somewhere in that time frame as well.
SF: I’ve personally heard this story, but I think fans of Turkuaz would love to learn about the meaning behind the band’s name. It feeds into the history of Turkuaz a bit, so if you would, tell us why you named your band, “Tukuaz.”
DB: Turkuaz is named after many things really. It means “Turquoise” in Turkish. It’s our favorite airline, clothing company, nightclub, restaurant, and manufacturer of urinal toilets. Oh – also – “Turkuaz” is the name of a Turkish market in Boston we used to visit frequently near our first home studio.
SF: Apart from your Baker’s Dozen After-Show, what concert or festival are you personally most looking forward to this summer?
DB: It’s hard to pick favorites in terms of the rest of the summer. Festival season is always fun and we have a lot of really great festivals and outdoor gigs left for the season. I think what we are also looking forward to though, is returning to playing our club dates later in the fall, the first run of which we’ve announced recently and the rest of which will be announced soon. We’ll be hitting a lot of places that we haven’t been to for a long time and we’re getting geared up for the big tour.
SF: The band is always adorned in elaborate, colorful outfits on stage. How does Turkuaz go about selecting what clothes each band member wears each night? In a similar vein, how does Turkuaz craft its diverse setlists from concert-to-concert?
DB: I write the setlists and I’m always trying to cater to the specific occasion. I like to make sure to mix things up a bit while still delivering those songs I know people want to hear. I’ll usually wait until the day of the show as well to see what the band is feeling and what we’d like to perform that night.. Or I’ll just pick them out of a hat. As far as outfits, each member has their own color which we’ve been doing for a while, and fans seem to respond to it. It’s really become our thing. Each one of us has a pretty large wardrobe in our colors and we really just wear what we feel like each night. Sometimes it’s more thought out than other times, but having the colors makes it easy for us to be visually stimulating on stage which we love.
SF: Looking far ahead, what vision do you have for Turkuaz in 2018?
DB: Not sure how far ahead that is – 2018 seems like it’s just around the corner! The biggest thing will be putting out our new album which we’ll announce more about in the next couple months. But of course we’ll continue playing live and keeping focus on that as well. We have plenty of plans already brewing for 2018.
SF: Finally, I like to cap off each interview with an open forum. Anything else you’d like to share here that we haven’t already covered?
DB: I did not appreciate Ed Sheeran’s appearance in the first episode of Game of Thrones this season. I mean, c’mon… really?