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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Brass Tax brings its singular sound to Sky Bar this Saturday

    Kelsee Becker
    Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Tucson Locals of Brass Tax rehearse their unique style of instrumentation for upcoming shows. Brass Tax is made up of Frank Bair (Guitar), Darrin Wood (Drums), and Chris Halvorsen (Xylophone/Keys).

    Rote pop music is enough for some people, but for the rest of us there’s local band Brass Tax. Brass Tax is a four piece band whose eccentric instrumentation has featured everything from the marimba to auxiliary percussion scoured from a junkyard, in lead roles.

    It’s hard not to be excited about a band whose ReverbNation page is categorized, intriguingly, as “Metal/Electronic/Jazz.” The band more than lives up to the description. “I’ve always been attracted to more maudlin, complex types of music,” said co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Frank Bair. “With Brass Tax we have the opportunity to just be adventurous.”

    Soon after Bair’s move from North Carolina to Tucson in April 2010, he co-founded Brass Tax with Chris Halvorsen, whose 16 years of marimba playing quickly made them one of the more singular live shows in town.

    “I’ve always been pushed to do more violin work with this band,” said Bair, who studied the instrument for years before switching his focus to music recording.

    According to Bair, Brass Tax started out as a primarily electronic band, supporting Bair and Halvorsen’s live playing with backing tracks and drum programming. With Bair’s experience as a producer and programmer on their side, the two soon augmented their live setup and expanded to include Erik Ketchup on percussion instruments crafted from found items and products from home improvement stores.

    “We just started going to Home Depot with drumsticks and banging on everything we could see, picking out what we liked and what we wanted to incorporate in the songs,” Bair said. “I always wondered what the employees thought about these weirdos coming in to drum on their stuff.”

    Despite its experimental tendencies, the band has always taken great care to ensure its music remains grounded for the public, which Bair said is a challenge.

    “The goal is to be able to think outside the box musically, but still bridge the gap between what we want to make and what makes sense to perform at places around town,” he said.

    Nonetheless, the band is quick to acknowledge that Tucson has been an exceptional place for it to create and play its quirky sounds.

    With the addition of drummer Darrin Wood late last year, Brass Tax aims to explore realms of sonic space that were not available with the previous drum programming. “It adds to the overall sound considerably,” Wood said.

    “I think the songs are able to be a lot more colorful now,” Bair added, calling the presence of live drums “definitely a breath of fresh air.”

    In addition to the live show on Saturday, Brass Tax promises to have more performances over the next few months. The band also plans to record a new lineup sometime soon.

    “I think it’s very important that music be challenging,” Bair said. “I know some people would rather just play straightforward rock or whatever, because doing something more complex is too much work. For us, it’s never too much work.”

    Brass Tax plays at Sky Bar on Saturday with Black Jackalope Ensemble, The Scorpion Decides, Vanish Twin, and Lizard Goiter. Doors open at 8 p.m. Ages 21 and up. Free.

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