Folks, another musical sensation has entered my sound waves. Last week, in the midst of smooth jazz cruises, summer wanderings and the simple enjoyment of Jon Stewart’s last couple episodes, the band Three Thousand Rivers (TTR) became the soundtrack of it all. TTR is made up of Noam Hassenfeld, Nick Demirjian, Jack Cashion, Warren Loegering, and Zoe Aqua. They claim to call themselves a funk folk rock band, but they seem to be more than that. While listeners can trace those genres in their music at various intervals, they have their own unique sound that is a mix of Incubus meets a jazz New Orleans brass band. I know that sounds strange, but take a listen and you will see.
The crew shared with me their early start as a band. “At the time we started recording ‘Body Aha,’ we’d been together for a bit over a year. We wanted to make a record that showed who we were and where we’d gotten to as a band. We put an EP out last year, which we liked a lot, but we had grown so much as a band since then. We really found our style, so we thought we’d record a new [album].” Their style really has changed, even if it may be a bit subtle. Perhaps, the emphasis on their collective horn blares tied into their wailing guitar riffs have helped shape their infective tunes. I dig both their old and new tunes.
Since they are relatively new, I inquired about what they find to be their favorite work to date. “We’re really excited about the whole ‘Body Aha EP.’ Honestly, everyone in the band has a different song on the record that’s their favorite, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. We have a couple songs on this EP (and a couple on the last one) that are collaborations with the Bronx-based poet, Talia Lavin, she wrote lyrics, and we all love those songs. On this EP, the songs she worked with us are Body Aha and Gut. She writes catchy, rhythmic, and visceral lyrics, and it’s always really satisfying to work collaborate with artists from other media.” I love it when bands can breach their mediums and include other artists for the ride. Makes it all even more worthwhile.
As for shows, the band has high hopes for simple venues. “Being a band with lots of acoustic instruments, we love playing outside. We busk a lot, and have played a few outdoor gigs. It’d be fun to play a big outdoor festival someday.” Take a note Made in America; they could do a good job there.
Three Thousand Rivers have also tackled some difficult shows along the way. “Oh, man. We recorded a music video at our last show at Arlene’s Grocery, and we played the gig in these animal onesies that we were using for the video. I’m not sure any of us have ever sweat more in our lives.” You have admire their dedication in this case. That is a challenge many of us would never attempt.
Starting out in this rich music world, I asked them to talk a bit on their views in the space. “You know, it’s sometimes hard to get seen, even if you’re really proud of your output, especially in New York. There are just so many talented musicians making great music that it can be difficult to stand out. At the same time, it pushes you to be different and to really hone your craft. Making music and getting it out there is always going to be hard work no matter where you live, but as long as the process itself is fun and fulfilling, it’s just cool to be part of it.” Through the journey, they will be able to find their way. Plus, being an artist is one of the hardest yet most rewarding jobs in the world.
Part of their success is that they are constantly busy. “Yeah, we love trying new things. We’ve got a really cool music video in the works, which should be out soon… [It] allowed us to play with a more narrative-based form. It was super fun to shoot and we’re really psyched about it. We might get a bit more electronic. We’ve been pretty acoustic-focused over the last year, but we’ve been toying with the idea of adding some synth to the mix.”
Musical inspirations are plentiful for the musical crew. I wondered of they could mention a few musicians on their lists. “Oh yeah, tons. Jeff Mangum, for his incredibly nuanced songwriting, the Dodos, with their intense, driving rhythm section, and John Darnielle for his visceral lyrics. Red Baraat is a big inspiration for the way they play on stage. They just go completely crazy on stage, and the audience usually goes with them.”
Currently, the band remains busy. “We’re finishing up the music video and getting ready for our release show on Saturday August 8 at Mercury Lounge. We can’t wait! We’re working on a couple new songs these days. We’re also possibly working on a rock opera about Brad Pitt and Robot Godzilla. We’ll have to check back in a bit on that one…” I look forward to checking that out! In fact, all of you should brush up on these guys and go see them this weekend. It will be worth your time and perhaps a glimpse of musical excitement will help you on your Saturday escapades.