At a Waffle House in Central Arkansas, Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction is playing on repeat on the jukebox. While possibly a little out of place, it's a demonstration of idol worship of sorts for the four men who make up the New York-based band Black Taxi.
Formed in 2007, the band gained a reputation as a fun, danceable live act throughout the five boroughs because of its relentless schedule and, well, being a fun, danceable live act. Adjectives like "frenetic" and "spaced out" have been used to describe those shows, and it's exactly that energy and sense of fun they tried to harness and better incorporate on their new album, We Don't Know Any Better. That's aways a difficult goal since an enthusiastic crowd fuels the show as much as the mood of those performing. Still, they manage to demonstrate their love of a party atmosphere through these high-octane live sets.
Guitarist Bill Mayo says this record picks up where their first album, Things of That Nature (2009), left off. “Having had more experience in the studio, we knew we could have more fun and do more experimentation,” he says. “There's a lot more synths, but it's still very much a rock-n-roll record.”
One listen to We Don't Know Any Better confirms this. The jangly, up-tempo opening track, “Tightrope,” sends the listener down a renewed path toward enjoying the mix of dance and rock, a trail previously blazed by the likes of the Friendly Fires, VHS or Beta, and Two Door Cinema Club. And “Hand” is damn catchy, making surprisingly good use of a trumpet.
Now in the midst of a cross-country tour, Black Taxi is dipping their toes into new territory. For starters, they've hired a public relations firm for the first time, a gamble vocalist Ezra Huleatt says is paying off. “We played some big shows in the south with the Bright Light Social Hour,” he says. “We've had a really good response. We sold out of our CD, so we had to have more copies shipped to us at one of the stops!”
They're wrapping up what they lovingly refer to as the “warm section of the tour” (the Southeast), and are heading for a sweep through the newly frigid Midwest, including a stop at the Melody Inn tonight in Indianapolis, along with Buster Eagle and Chicago Winter. Drummer Jason Holmes says, “The first leg of the tour started really strong. We sold out the Bowery Ballroom,” (in their hometown of New York City). Translation: Their new PR firm is working out well.
But he also says people have been slowly catching on to what type of show to expect. “People who work at the clubs have been wonderful. They know we have the intent of making a fun, rock show and have been very welcoming to us,” Holmes says. “We had a woman come to our show in Ft. Worth who owned a taco shop down the street. She gave us food for the road.”
They're hoping to continue the love but gain momentum even as their tour winds down later this month in Cleveland, Ohio. Huleatt even joked that he'll buy a round to anyone who comes out to support them, but that they'd better “bring their dancing shoes.”
“Our fans get as excited about the music as we are,” Huleatt grins. “It's a party, and everyone's invited.”