From the frosty tundra of the TMR bunker in Buffalo, NY another instrumental band has arisen from two members of Tortoise Forest! The Kalahari Merman Experience features Max Davis and Dan Gagliardi creating an even crazier sound. Also attached with this review is an interview for your reading entertainment as well you can read below!
Explain how your band formed.
D: I hope it’s not too cliche at this point to say this, but covid. As bad as it has been for everybody, it has at least given me some time to focus on pursuits that I had been neglecting for years, one of those being guitar, and specifically playing guitar in a band writing original music.
M: I have been playing music with Dan for a few years now, and he has always been a great song-writer. He came to me with this project asking if I could record some keyboards and I immediately loved the songs so it was a no-brainer.
What’s the meaning of the group name?
D: Let’s just say there’s a certain waterpark who may get litigious in the future.
M: What he said.
What influenced you guys to start the band?
D: Really, the recording of the album came first, and at the time it was mostly just for fun. But after learning the songs, and with some improv chops underneath our belts it just felt like the right thing to do, for the children.
M: A mixture of this batch of proggy songs, the desire to play them in a live setting, and gear. Lots of gear.
Do you guys have any history together in previous bands?
D: Yeah we’ve been playing together in one form or another for over 3 years at this point, though interestingly enough never on these particular instruments.
M: Dan has been playing drums and I have been playing guitar in other projects, so switching it up with him on guitar and me on keys feels extremely refreshing. I learned piano before any other instrument so it’s been a blast getting back into it over quarantine.
Describe your dream tour, who would you be on with?
D: Jeez, I mean not to get all starry-eyed but to even make it on to any of the ‘big’ festivals one day would be amazing. Summer Camp, Domefest, any of those. Maybe one day.
M: We would play the Kalahari Desert to a crowd of elephants and zebras and we would be on with Umphrey’s McGee.
Who are your favorite bands now that our followers may not know of? Drop some links!
D: One of our biggest influences is a band called Garaj Mahal, I’m not sure if they’re still together but they’re just full of proggy/funky/jazzy/gospel choppy insanity. https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/2deWiitvmVN4lcrqPptP8A?si=oOkMKkxSQaW4K-SzZgM4KA
M: I’ve been listening to a bunch of Dopapod and Organ Freeman. Great keyboard/organ/synth inspiration.
Favorite albums of all time and favorite recent releases?
D: Even though I’m not really into the style so much these days, Karnivool’s Sound Awake had a profound impact on me when I was younger. More recently, anything King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard has put out has been great.
M: Albums of all time would be Deloused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta, Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree, The Red Album by Baroness, and Mirrored by Battles. For recent releases, I’m still enjoying Trash Generator by Tera Melos and Chinese Football’s self-titled album
Favorite pieces of gear?
D: I’m not much of a gear head, actually I only owned one guitar for 15 years, until this past December I finally bought myself a PRS. I’m a simple man.
M: Favorite instrument at the moment is my Nord Electro 3 73SW, which I use for clean pianos, electric pianos, organs, and synth pads. My favorite guitar at the moment is my ‘83 Yamaha SBG-200, and my favorite pedals currently are the Meris Hedra (pitch shifter) and Enzo (synth). I’m also considering getting a Moog Grandmother to replace my Korg Monologue.
What gear have you sold you wish you never did? We all have stuff we wish we didn’t sell…
M: I recently sold my DigiTech Trio+ pedal which was a looper as well as a drum & bass machine that listens to your “riff” and then instantly produces a drum and bassline. It would totally come in handy at the moment since we are currently just guitar and keys.
Describe your musical backgrounds and how you started.
D: My grandmother (dad’s side) has taught piano for probably 100 years at this point, my dad plays guitar, one uncle drums, and the other is a luthier, so it’s probably in my genes somewhere. I started playing both drums and guitar around the age of 10, mostly alone in my bedroom.
M: No one in my family plays music, but I started taking piano lessons at age 5, then switched to drums at 13, and then added guitar at 15. Guitar came very naturally to me and got me into the world of pedals and effects, progressive music, and producing/composing music in general.
Now onto the three song offering from the KME. The cool part about instrumental bands is with the obvious absence of a vocalist and lyrics, you have more freedom as far as song names and themes go than a normal band with a vocalist. The band’s debut release features three stellar tracks that are still different than their most recent band “Tortoise Forest” in the sense its less riff oriented and even more free flowing than the aforementioned. I have been clamoring for more instrument styled bands (whether its more prog, metal, death metal, fusion/funk, whatever) bands in the Western New York Area and the lads messaged me about this project! Boy you guys not be disappointed if you give them 15 minutes of your undivided attention.
Once I remembered their names, I connected their similarities to TF and could not turn down this opportunity knowing their stellar musicianship. The keyboards in their tracks are a lot more up front like Dream Theater and Opeth in their mixes. There’s a few keyboard leads on the songs, but they’re not obnoxious and overplayed. I feel the fun Max and Dan had putting this together shows in their music and focused on writing full SONGS, not a shred fest that will quickly bore the listener. Was I disappointed? Hell no I wasn’t! Newer and older prog/instrumental/fusion/jam band aficionados will definitely dig this new band with all their different quirks.
As an artist myself I was heavily involved in their layered songs with the different keyboard patches and melodies they had going as well. The rhythms held down on drums were really groovy and inspiring. Needless to say, my brain was occupied piecing everything together and the different sections in all three songs. With a lot of cookie cutter bands keeping the wheel moving not doing anything different, this band comes out of nowhere and keeps my faith in new music. It’s a great nod to classic jam bands and fusion guitar playing with a modern take on the genre as well. KME also is loaded with modern progressive nodes that will draw in younger fans wanting a new musical adventure as well. Whether you’re a fan or an artist, KME will take you on a unique musical experience.
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