Horn Dogs: watch out, the Budos Band's trumpets might bite you

The snarling interlocked horns of The Budos Band are unbelievably nasty, dizzyingly wonderful, and sometimes totally disruptive, in that it's hard to figure out this group until you properly decode them. After starting as a younger, wilder version Staten Island analogue to Antibalas, they linked up in the mid-2000s with the leading Luddites at retro soul and funk label Daptone Records and promptly started filling old-school analog tape tracks with megaton melodies that launched them away from their Afrobeat roots. Baritone sax player Jared Tankel got to watch everything from the inside.

The Hook: Your horn arrangements in particular seem really aggressive, and I know you attribute a lot of that to Black Sabbath. What other metal bands are good for inspiring horn charts?

Jared Tankel: There's Iron Maiden, Slayer to a certain extent, older Metallica. We all went and saw a Pentagram show somewhere recently– old doom metal guys.

The Hook: Would it be overly simplistic to say that it's a matter of mapping guitar riffs in the metal bands to horn riffs in your band?

Jared Tankel: I think our guitar and bass arrangements have become more and more riff-oriented as well. And certainly the [horn] lines themselves are more funk or soul influenced, but they're also more riff-oriented than they used to be.

The Hook: Are people ever surprised to find white guys in the band?

Jared Tankel: Maybe initially, but if our sound is developing in such a way that it's not as easy to point to it as being straight-up African music, then it makes it a little less surprising, you know? When people ask, "What kind of music is it," our best guess at this point is "modern American instrumental music," which doesn't really say anything. Or "Afro-rock."

The Hook: Those terms seem almost opposite, in that one starts with "American" and the other with "Afro."

Jared Tankel: There's a lot of baggage with that. We've gotten a lot of questions about being white nostalgists for African music that we don't really know. I don't know if there's a right answer other than to bring it back to the "American" outlook. American music is composed of all this other stuff, right?

The Hook: Vampire Weekend has also been tremendously successful at presenting African influences to mainstream rock audiences. What do you think that means for your band?

Jared Tankel: There seems to be a lot more pronounced [African] influence in rock bands these days. And I'm not totally surprised by it, I think it's cool and I think it's interesting for indie rock to be incorporating more of those elements.

The Hook: Do you ever worry about it becoming a fad, like what happened with ska in the late 90's?

Jared Tankel: There's a concern that it becomes too derivative and watered down. But at the same time, if I were to say that I was worried about African music becoming watered down by rock acts, I'm almost being a hypocrite.
The Budos Band performs at The Southern on Saturday 2/19. Tickets cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door, and the show starts at 8pm.

Want a free pair of tickets? Post a link in the comments below to a YouTube video or whatever else of your favorite horn riff, and we'll pick a winner by Friday morning. (Be sure to use your real email address so we know how to contact you.)

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Music kicks up at 0:40.

Enjoy the show, Pedro.