Drums and Tuba was originally formed sometime in 1995. Tony Nozero (drums) and Brian Wolff (tuba) were working at an unhealthy health food store in Austin, Texas making smoothies together when they came up with the idea of creating a stripped-down marching band (the best laid plans often go astray). Tony had played drums for many years in a variety of rock, punk, and jazz bands. Brian had just recently discovered the tuba (having played trumpet and trombone previously), and was just beginning to explore the possibilities of the instrument.
Initially going by the moniker "Just Drums and Tuba," the two young men took their creation to the streets of Austin performing weekend nights on downtown sixth street for tips, pocket change, and other assorted odds and ends. Brian and Tony soon realized that their ensemble was missing some important element. The addition of Neal McKeeby on guitars was the essential ingredient needed to complete their trio. The band decided to drop the "Just" and to go by the simple name "Drums and Tuba."
Without any master plan, the trio pursued some kind of amalgamation of their extremely varied tastes and backgrounds. Wolff is from New York, Nozero is from Madison, Wisconsin, and McKeeby is from Knoxville, Tennessee. The three musicians never intended to create something original or different or unique. For all their pyrotechnics, they are not a novelty act. They simply create music with a strong emphasis on songs and structure as they hear it. The result is music that is not easily described or categorized, but which is extremely accessible to a wide and varied audience. At a show, punks, dead heads, and indie-rockers, both young kids and old folks will find themselves standing together listening to a music which makes them feel both confused and happy. They may not know quite what it is or what it's called, but they do know that they like it.
Drums and Tuba has played in all kinds of venues and all kinds of situations from tiny shows to crowds of over six thousand and to the continuous surprise of Tony, Brian, and Neal the music always goes over well. An old union worker in Providence, Rhode Island will even praise the band. Says Wolff, "the kind of person who I expect to tell us 'what the hell are you guys doing up there and whose dumb idea was it anyway' will tell us, 'that was nothing like I expected but I really dug your sound.' And that's the kind of thing that makes me realize we're on to something-- when someone who is completely not into experimental music of any kind enjoys what we do simply because it's good music, not because it's impressive or complicated, but just because it sounds good."
The band plays a variety of different sounding music, encompassing rock, funk, punk, electronica, and other styles. All the music is extremely rhythm-oriented, with Nozero's drums taking front and center. All three instrumentalists will at one time or another play both rhythmically and melodically. Sometimes the guitar is a rhythm instrument and sometimes it carries the melody, and often it does both at the same time. Either McKeeby will play two guitars at once or Wolff will sample him live. The band does a lot of live sampling (nothing is prerecorded), using a variety of digital delay machines. For instance, McKeeby will start a song with a riff and before you know it he's been sampled and has moved on. With the addition of more live samples, the group is able to create songs with dense layers of sound. The tuba can lay down a bass line and then, with the use of a variety of guitar pedals and delay machines, play a swooping melody over the top of the ensuing groove. In addition, this frees up Wolff to play the trumpet as well. Thus, the band is far more than the sum of its parts. All this is done with the express purpose of serving the song. It is all founded in the basic fundamental principles of music. Drums and Tuba is not a gimmick.
Drums and Tuba has played hundreds of shows all over the United States opening for such acts as Ani DiFranco, Galactic, uze Jsme Doma, Daniel Johnston, and Spaceheads. They have completed four full length cds, one cd ep, one vinyl seven inch, one music video, a whole slew of compilations, and a variety of movie soundtracks.
released September 28, 2018
Tony Nozero - Drums and Percussion
Steve Garofano - Drums and Percussion
Ben Ellman - Saxophone:
Jonathon Freilich - Guitar on Boubakar
Francesca Wolff - Vocals on Se Malule
Brian Wolff - Tuba, Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Beatbox, Trumpet, Trombone, Flute
Engineered, Produced, and Mastered by Andrew “Goat” Gilchrist and Brian Wolff
Artwork by Theresa Behnen
Photograph of Boubakar by Paul Widdowson