|ROCKWIRED INTERVIEWS TAXI DOLL|
WILL GET YOU THROUGH THE DAYI fell in love with TAXI DOLL the moment I took the advance copy of their forthcoming debut CD 'HERE AND NOW' out of its wrapping and popped it into the CD drive of my computer. TAXI DOLL's effortlessly cool electro rock sound on the tracks 'COME TO ME' and 'GIVE YOU MORE' put them in a league with those other electro rock mavens GOLDFRAPP and GARBAGE, although lead singer DHANA TAPROGGE's sex kitten purr comes closer to ANA MATRONIC of the SCISSOR SISTERS rather than SHIRLEY MANSON. While 'GIVE YOU MORE' has been earmarked as the first single, the biggest surprises on this debut CD are the haunting, reggaefied title track, and SOFT KILL which has the band churning out the coldest TOM TOM CLUB-styled funk. Produced by keyboardist GREGG ALLEN, HERE AND NOW is the electrifying first effort of a band that is here to stay.
DHANA TAPROGGE, GREG ALLEN
AND JASON GRAHAM OF TAXI DOLL
TALK TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR DEBUT CD 'HERE AND NOW'
FINDING THE PERFECT MIX OF ROCK AND ELECTRONICS
AND KEEPING LISTENERS HAPPY
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with DHANA, GREGG, and JASON GRAHAM (drums) over the phone. Here is how it went.
When does the CD come oout?
GREGG: It comes out on Februray 23, 2009. We've been getting bits of it out to the press and so far the feedback has been really positive.
DHANA: We're very excited about it obviously.
How did the band begin. What got everyone on the same page to do this project?
GREGG: DHANA and I met through a mutual producer friend and he said 'Hey, you guys pretty much have the same influences and tastes in music and direction in terms of what kind of music you'd like to do.' So he introduced us and we started writing immediately and all of a sudden we were like 'Wow! This is great! We're knocking out some amazing songs!' It grew from there and shortly after that was when DHANA met JASON and the band just kind of grew out of that. We had the drummer and the glue of the project and then we went on the hunt for the perfect bassist and the perfect guitarist and found MATT EMMER and BRIAN HENDRIX, so it sort of happened -
DHANA: - Through synergy and through friends.
JASON: We all met on E-HARMONY.COM
They should make something like that for bands so that they don't break up.
JASON: Yeah, we could call it B-HARMONY or something.
You've thought about this more than I have.
JASON: The name is being trademarked.
I can only assume what you're musical influences are when I listen to the CD so talk about them.
DHANA: We've all got similar tastes in music and that is probably why we 're able to get along so well in the songwriting process. I guess it's everything from THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS to BLONDIE to GORILLAZ to DEPECHE MODE and GARBAGE. What am I forgetting guys?
GREGG: GOLDFRAPP - that's a huge influence and sometimes even seventies rock. Sometimes that finds its way into the music. It's a combination of good rock, good electronics and pop right in the middle.
Where do you hail from originally DHANA?
DHANA: It's a bit of a mish mash. I am German and Spanish and grew up in Germany and Spain and the Canary Islands and I also grew up in England where I learned English and that's why I have a funny accent.
I don't think it's funny, I think it's very cute. So what brought you to the States?
DHANA: I had an opportunity to come to L.A. and I always wanted to come out to L.A. because you always hear about great music being formed here and obviously being in America - the land of opportunity - is the place to be so I decided, 'why not?' As soon as I got here, things started to happened for me. I met GREGG and the band and it's just been really exciting. And the weather is absolutely lovely.
So it sounds like things happened almost instantaneously.
DHANA: What is instantaneous?
Let's say a couple of months.
DHANA: How about within the first year.
Sounds instantaneous to me.
DHANA: I feel very fortunate to have met these guys. I have had a lot of fun with this project and have created some really great music and have played some fun shows.
What drew each of you to music in the beginning?
DHANA: I don't quite know what drew me to music. I just know that it is something that has always been a part of me. Ever since I was a little kid, I always wrote little poems and songs for anyone who would take a listen even though I am painfully shy. I don't quite know where that comes from. It makes no sense at all. I'm not shy on stage or anything like that. I guess it's something that comes from within rather than externally. My family has always been very musical and perhaps that was an influence as well.
JASON: When I was a kid, by brute force, my parents made me play piano. When I was in fourth grade they marched us into the lunchroom and we got to pick out the instrument that you wanted to play and I ran right over to the drums and started whacking on those things and it was sort of out of rebellion to being forced to play piano. I wanted to find something else to play and I loved it so I stuck with it. I've been playing since the fifth grade basically so that is kind of what happened. I grew up in the Midwest and there is not a lot to do so on those cold winter nights, I would cuddle up with my drum set. In search of warmer weather, after I got out of college, I got out to Los Angeles and started playing in some bands. As far as influences go, I was inspired by the whole Orange County ska/reggae/punk thing. I played with some electronic bands and after playing in rock bands for so many years, it was really kind of fun to switch over and do the whole electronic thing and I love it. I love the mix. I love the hybrid of the acoustic drums and all of the electronic stuff that you can do.
GREGG: I actually grew up in a very musical family. I have two older brothers. One of them is a drummer and the other is a singer and piano player as well. My mom was actually taking drum lessons with my older brother which was kind of fun but they bought my oldest brother a piano because he was really interested in playing piano but they weren't sure that he was going to follow through so they bought this one hundred dollar left-in-the-street piano held together with strings and paper clips. So I saw him play and I thought 'Well, I can do that!' So I just started jamming on the piano and that was when my parents asked me if I wanted to take lessons so they got me lessons and went through a bunch of teachers until finally I had one that asked me what I wanted to learn, and this teacher taught me blues. It was that teacher that got me interested in keeping with piano.
DHANA: I want to add something. Besides us having a piano at home and me crawling into my mum's clothes and sitting at the piano and plinking away, I was very fortunate that when I was in school that I had a teacher that for whatever reason took me under her wing and would teach me every week for free the fundamentals of classical jazz and really encouraged me to find my strengths and go for the whole music thing so that was definitely a big inspiration.
DHANA, talk about you band mates a little bit. What do you think that each of them brings to the table musically an personality-wise.
DHANA: They're extremely sexy, handsome and intelligent. How do you sum up a person in a few words? They feel like brothers to me. They are all lovely amazing people. You always hear the nightmares in L.A. about the creepy people in bands and drama and all that stuff and I've got to say that we all get along very well. I'm just happy that we've all found each other and are able to do the band together. In terms of the music, GREGG and I come a little more from the electro side of things and MATT and BRIAN are a little more rock and roll which makes it a nice hybrid for us. I think that BRIAN HENDRIX has the coolest name in the band. He's the bass player and MATT EMMER absolutely shreds on the guitar and it's really a lot of fun to be on stage with him. GREGG jumps the highest during a show and I try to compete with him, but I think he has the most clearance off the ground and JASON tries to keep us all together. I don't know what else to say.
Why don't JASON and GREGG talk about DHANA.
DHANA: Oh no!
JASON: Man! Talk about a super diva! Actually the opposite is true. She's a total professional. It's interesting because she is a little bit of two people. She's harmless and quiet and shy offstage and when she comes on stage, she totally bursts out and totally commands it and rules it and does such a great job as a performer so its fun for us to watch as a band.
GREGG: My favorite DHANA-ism is that no matter what the show or what is happening in the audience, she is always having fun. At one show, these girls came up to DHANA after the show and said 'We had the best time just watching you because you were so happy and having a good time and had a smile on your face and it made us get into it more'. As a band, we have fun when we're live no matter what is happening.
In the liner notes, it shows that DHANA and GREGG are the chief songwriters. Would the two of you describe the songwriting process between yourselves?
GREGG: It's magic. They're written in our sleep and when we wake up, they're right there on tape. There are different processes but a lot of times, we'll start with a track that is usually inspired by an idea or a thought or a feeling of what it is that we want to write and it goes back and forth between the two of us. The track starts and then it goes over to DHANA and she starts working on some lyrics and it's batted back and forth until it's ready to be presented to the rest of the band and hammered out. We don't stop until it is 110% and it sends chills up my spine.
DHANA: It's kind of like having a musical conversation where you keep finishing each other's sentences.
GREGG: All that and magic!
What songs from HERE AND NOW stand out for each of you and why?
DHANA: That's hard!
GREGG: For me, FOLLOW LEAD stands out for me a.) because it was the last song written so it kind of stays fresh in your mind and b.) we tried different things on that track and I think that they paid off and I love where it went. The other stand out, fun track for me would be HERE AND NOW because it goes back to some of the reggae influences that both JASON and I have and were table to get a little bit of that onto this song.
DHANA: COME TO ME is the track that I love to play live. It's always a fun song to sing. I also really like WINTER which is the ballad and the more intimate song on the album. It's kind of hard. It's like trying to pick your favorite child or something like that.
GREGG: We love all of our children equally.
JASON: Mine would be the title track HERE AND NOW. That was fun to bring in the whole drum rock thing into that. We went int othe studio and knocked it out. Were totally on top of that one. My second favorite would probably be a tie between BE WITH YOU and WINTER.
DHANA: The albums got everything. It all depends on what you're in the mood for. If you want something aggressive and sexy than GIVE YOU MORE is a great track. If you're more in a vibe-y mood there is STRANGE RUSH. It all depends on what kind of mood you're in.
GREGG: The album is like a big mood ring. A musical mood ring. If you're feeling purple press HERE AND NOW. When green, COME TO ME.
Talk about live shows. What's been the biggest surprise in doing them.
JASON: For me, it's when we're trying out a new song in front of an audience. Playing a song in rehearsal and playing it live in front of an audience is like night and day. I won't say that it's a surprise but I will say that it feels good when it just come together on stage and works.
DHANA: One of the things that was challenging to us was making sure that the sound we created in the studio was able to translate to the stage. JASON is great at getting that whole electro rock feel on stage to the people that we want to share it with; the audience.
GREGG: The biggest surprise I think is when we were locked backstage at ta show.
DHANA: That was a SPINAL TAP moment.
GREGG: We got locked in the green room. It was funny.
DHANA: There was no handle from the inside of the door.
GREGG: And then they announced us and we were still locked up.
Are there any videos for any of the songs? You guys seem like you would be a very visual band.
DHANA: We have a video that is actually in post-production at the moment. There will be a lot of special effects and we actually want to get more into making music videos. The production company MFACTOR really liked our song GIVE YOU MORE and now there is a really kick ass video in the works. It will be released next year along with the new album.
When will touring begin?
DHANA: We're working on all of that stuff. Obviously we're all very excited to be playing the new songs live so all of that will start next years when we start promoting the album.
This is kind of a question that deserves a sort of wish list answer. Who would you guys like to tour with?
GREGG: Who do you know?
JASON: I think a no-brainer would have to be THE KILLERS. We happen to be putting out albums around the same time. I think it would be a good fit. They're definitely a dance rock mash up just like we are and I thin it would be kind of fun to cruise around with those guys.
GREGG: Touring with GOLDFRAPP would be a fun tour.
DHANA: Call U2.
How about THE SCISSOR SISTERS?
DHANA: Oh yeah, I love them.
What would like people to come away with after they've heard HEAR AND NOW?
DHANA: Simply to enjoy and have fun.
GREGG: We've e-mails were people write to us and say 'Hey, I just want to thank you. I've put on one of your singles and it just made my day!' Now we;ve got an album of singles so that will make their week.
DHANA: People have come up to us after shows and say that they hate their jobs so they get their morning coffee, put on our music and it gets them through the day and it's great!
GREGG: We're gonna sticker the CD with 'WILL GET YOU THROUGH THE DAY'.
JASON: A couple of years ago we released this song WAITING for the FIREWALL soundtrack and there were a lot of people that got to know that song. Whenever we'd play out of town people would come up and sing it with us. With this album, if people put it in their car and they crank it up and sing along to it as they're driving , for me that is it! If they feel inspired to drive to work and jam one of our songs out then that is the golden ticket for me.