After a day of longboarding around Boston, the guys from one of the best bands in the city, Art Decade, sat down with Blast to chat about their past, present, and their exciting future.
Guitarist/vocalist Ben Talmi and bassist/vocalist Binod Singh Jr. comprise Art Decade, a band that has been in existence almost as long as they have. Fresh from a trip to this year’s South by Southwest Festival, during which they headlined two shows to much acclaim at the Austin Museum of Art, the guys seem relaxed but focused about what’s to come.
When asked about the band’s background, Talmi smiled and said, "That’s a long story." The condensed version is that the band started as Channel, Talmi’s eighth grade brainchild, and quickly garnered acclaim after two EPs. This led to funding and a tenuous record deal. Talmi, who was in high school at the time, admits he did not fully understand the levity of the money and support that was being tossed around him. He changed the band’s name to Art Decade, citing the need for the band to take a step in a different direction. Shortly after recording and releasing their first EP as Art Decade, Innocence/Experience, Dave Matthews Band’s LeRoi Moore, a major backer of the band, died, and the deal fell through, leaving the band once again on the outside looking in, without a record deal or funding.
Talmi’s next move was to Berklee, one he was less than thrilled about. "I had always thought that if I went to college, I had failed," Talmi said. But it was at school that he met his equally talented classmate/bandmate, Singh. He first saw Singh play in a basement jam session.
“Binod (Singh) was the only person, when I was tossing around riffs, that could really keep up with me," said Talmi. The two recorded Art Decade’s most recent EP, Royalty, a huge-sounding effort that puts the band’s technical mastery and songwriting ability on display.
Talking to Talmi, it’s easy to see that the last thing he wants to do is rehash all the trials and tribulations of his musical career with the band that has led him to sitting in a coffee shop on this sunny afternoon. Soon, it becomes obvious why. They’re excited about where they are now and where they’re headed. Talmi admits that he is learning a good amount attending Berklee, but throws in the caveat that he would still leave now if he could, and that his education always takes a backseat to his musical career.
Later this month, Talmi and Singh are headed to Atlanta to record their first LP with producer Dan Hannon, about which Singh says, "The planets are sort of aligning around making this album." That will be followed by a probable tour in support of the album (after school’s out, of course).
Talmi and Singh are wise beyond their years. They have no qualms about drawing on their past experiences to make "art that is honest." This is something that is clearly important to them, as they continually insert the phrase in their answers during our meeting. Royalty is a clear example of this.
"The EP isn’t a concept album but it’s entirely conceptual,” Talmi explained. “There are some reoccurring characteristics, and the overall theme of something being built up and its subsequent let down, whether it’s a record label or a relationship, is definitely in there."
When asked if there was any apprehension about making a record that is so personal, the guys answer, once again, with astounding maturity. "You can’t be apprehensive when you’re going into the process or you won’t create something honest. But once something is complete, one of my great fears is always playing what we’ve done for close friends and parents."
The members of Art Decade are also unafraid to be original in their sound, which Talmi describes as, "If David Bowie fell through a cloud of smoke exhaled by Thom Yorke as he played a game of tennis with Beethoven," or in their live setup which features a stringed quartet and a drummer.
Classical influences have a profound effect on the band’s musical direction. Talmi confides that he listens almost exclusively to classical music now, despite having been enamored with the concept of a power trio when he was younger, and says that the stringed quartet, "are inspirational," and "the best thing we’ve done musically."
Art Decade is playing two shows this weekend, one at the Guru Room in Plymouth, MA on Friday night, and a matinee show at The Middle East Upstairs on Saturday afternoon with The Dirty Dishes, Southern Belle and Shapes and Numbers, a show Blast will be covering. Check out Art Decade’s mature and unique sound now, and be sure to be on the lookout for their debut LP this summer.