Q&A: Budos Band’s Brian Profilio Discusses Going Instrumental, Pizza, and Hitting the Road

Posted on Tuesday March 29th in

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Mashing together Afrobeat, psychedelic rock, jazz, funk, and soul, Staten Island nine-piece Budos Band have been making shake-it-don’t-break-it instrumental music for more than a decade. They come to Brooklyn Bowl for a pair of shows this weekend, on Friday and Saturday. And drummer Brian Profilio spoke to Knockdown Alley about the ’90s, new music, and what to expect when you see Budos Band live.
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For some bands, lyrics are king. But you guys embrace instrumental illness. What’s behind that? Was there a specific reason that you decided to forgo words and let just your instruments do the talking? When we first started playing music together back in 1995, we played all kinds of musical styles. You know the ’90s, right? It was an anything-goes genre mash. (Judgment Night soundtrack anyone?) So we just played whatever genre we were feeling at the time, from punk to hip-hop. We kept adding more and more people to our jam sessions and we found that the style of music we played best together was funky soul. Artists like the Meters, Dyke and the Blazers, the Bar-Kays, and the J.B.’s became our biggest influences. From there we moved right into the Afrobeat genre. We didn’t have a charismatic soul singer in our crew and we didn’t want to fake the funk, so it was all instrumentals.

Following your first three albums, Budos Band had a change in sound for the fourth, Burnt Offering. What led you there and do you think you’ll still be following that path when it comes time to make new music? And to that end, do you have any new music in the works? I feel like each album got progressively darker. On the first album, we were just moving out of a really heavy Afrobeat influence and our music had a brighter, bouncier sound. Plus we were a bunch of young bucks, superexcited to be recording a record for Daptone, so that first record just had that youthful energy. The next two records moved away from Afrobeat into more of an Ethiopian jazz sound. But we just kept digging for darker, heavier, fuzzier music. It led us out of African music into all sorts of strange, underground psychedelic hard rock. Now we listen to all sorts of late ’60s and ’70s hard rock, and that stuff made its way into our sound. Which brings us to Burnt Offering. For this record, we had complete control. Every aspect of the record, from the production to the cover art, was our decision. Burnt Offering is what happens when you let the Budos take the reigns. For the next record, we already recorded two songs, and they’re even more blown out and psyched out than Burnt Offering. We’re gonna dig even deeper into the murky fuzz rock that you heard on Burnt Offering. It’s gonna get darker, weirder, and heavier.

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Budos Band have played Brooklyn Bowl before. What do you remember most about previously playing here? And what are you most looking forward to when you return on April 1-2? We had a blast playing the Brooklyn Bowl last spring. We’ll probably be at Mable’s BBQ before the shows. Come on over and have a drink.

Since you’re playing two shows here, can we expect a different set each night? And will you be playing from your whole catalog? Doing covers? We try to switch the sets up a little bit each night. We’ll probably play 90 percent of the Burnt Offering record, our two new singles and a couple of trashed-out Turkish rock covers. We might even throw in a Led Zep cover if the vibe is right.
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Budos Band are from Staten Island, and Daptone Records is a Brooklyn label, which makes you decidedly a New York City band. Is that something you carry with you when you play elsewhere in the country and across the world? We don’t try to be a New York band. None of us are overly proud of representing Brooklyn or Staten Island when we’re out on the road. In fact, sometimes we try to just dig into the local scene and get a piece of all the cool things going on there (breweries). Just don’t get into a conversation with me about pizza, because then the New Yorker comes out.
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How would you describe your live performances to someone who’s never seen play? Most of the time, at live shows, we just whip ourselves into a frenzy. We start off heavy and loud, and we keep getting heavier, louder, fuzzier, noisier, and, well, crazier. Then, depending on how much energy the crowd is giving us, it might devolve into pure Budos mayhem. That’s when nothing and no one is safe.
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What’s the best part of staying home to play a local show versus hitting the road? The best thing about local shows is that all of our friends and family are at the gig. The gigs bring people together and it’s great to see some folks who don’t come around too often. But, really, as cool as local gigs are, nothing beats the road. I don’t think anything is better than being out on the road.
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