On the phone: Taxiride
"Maybe it's the water here," offers
Jason Singh. "No one really stresses out that much
in Australia. Obviously it exists, but there's not
a lot of pressure in living."
To confirm a nagging suspicion, I had asked singer/guitarist
of Aussie rock band Taxiride in a recent telephone chat if
Australians really are happier than the rest of us. Which
is not to say that Taxiride, despite the boy-toy good looks
and vocal harmonies, are an antipodean version of annoyingly
cheerful boy bands like 'N Sync.
Despite some superficial similarities, Taxiride are a real
rock band, not some "Pop Idol" type group manufactured
in the boardroom of a record company. Forming in 1996, the
four members-Tim Watson, Tim Wild, Dan Hall and Jason
Singh-had all paid their dues on Melbourne's
live music circuit, one of them, Hall, even being asked to
join the band when he was discovered busking on the sidewalk.
Immediately establishing a shared chemistry, the band tested
out their demos on unsuspecting riders of a friend's
taxi cab, hence the name Taxiride. When a demo tape found
its way to a Sire Records executive in the US, the group found
themselves signed to an American label for their 1999 debut,
Produced by Jack Puig (Jellyfish, the Goo Goo Dolls), the
album went double platinum in Australia on the strengths of
the band's unabashedly catchy four-part harmonies and
sing along choruses. The album's success led to an
intensive period of touring that also saw them make their
Japan debut, and this past summer the release of their follow-up
album, Garage Mahal.
Faced with trying to follow up a double platinum debut, the
band-now back to a three-piece-headed to Venice
Beach in Los Angeles, where the bohemian beach scene provided
a comfortable release from days spent knocking heads in the
recording studio, something Singh says is inevitable in a
band with three singer-songwriters.
"Everyone has a strong opinion, and sometimes during
the creative process we bang heads together a little,"
he says. "But we all understand that it comes from
a place of passion, because we were very passionate about
what goes down onto tape, be it a vocal, an arrangement, an
idea, or a guitar part. So any time that we've banged
heads and come to a disagreement, we get over it quickly.
In two minutes we're back to work and over the problem."
Garage Mahal takes the basic essentials (catchy hooks, monster
harmonies) of Imaginate, but leavens the recipe with richer,
more psychedelic instrumental textures. The obvious song on
the album is the unforgettable "Creepin' Up
Slowly," which Singh says they knew was a hit the instant
they recorded it, and which went on to confirm the band's
hunch by going platinum in Australia this summer. But the
album also features songs such as "Wait," a
worthy, Beatles-style track, and "Forest for the Trees,"
which is probably the heaviest track Taxiride has ever recorded.
Returning to the original question of Australians'
sunny disposition, Singh goes on to live up to his nation's
friendly character by ending the interview offering to shout
this reporter a pint. Any time you want to be interviewed,
Jason, I'm here.
Taxiride play Liquid Room on October
21 and Club Quattro on October 24. See listings for details.
Photo courtesy of Smash