Brooklyn’s Turkuaz — Dave Brandwein (guitar and vocals), Taylor Shell (bass), Craig Brodhead (guitar and synths), Michelangelo Carubba (drums), Greg Sanderson (sax), Josh Schwartz (sax and vocals), Chris Brouwers (trumpet and keys), Sammi Garett (vocals and tambourine), and Shira Elias (vocals) — released their second full-length, Digitonium, last fall to a fair amount of love from critics and fans alike. And the fun-loving funk army keeps it local this week with three shows at Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Ahead of their arrival, the band checked in with Knockdown Alley about all things Brooklyn.
You’ve got a three-night run coming up at Brooklyn Bowl. What are some highlights of playing here in the past?
Dave Brandwein: We’ve had some really special shows at Brooklyn Bowl. We opened for the Funky Meters there years ago. And since then, we’ve done two monthly residencies. At the end of one of them we did Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen with our friends from Dopapod. That was a good night!
Josh Schwartz: I mean, Joe Cocker’s Woodstock performance of “With a Little Help From My Friends” changed the course of my life through the television screen when I was a wee lad. Getting to channel his soul for a whole set at my favorite venue was a dream come true for me.
And what are you most looking forward to upon returning?
Josh: Getting set up and comfortable Thursday afternoon and then not having to load in or out until Saturday night.
Shira Elias: Hometown plays are the best. All your friends come, you know the lay of the land, and it just feels like … home (obviously).
Sammi Garett: And most of our friends and family haven’t seen our new Digitionium stuff, so I am excited for them to hear it live.
Dave: We’re also doing a tribute to the Band on Friday.
Michelangelo Carubba: And the special sit-ins we have planned are really exciting, looking forward to making some funky decisions onstage.
What’s your favorite thing to eat at Brooklyn Bowl?
Shira: Hm … the fried chicken would be a bit predictable, wouldn’t it? I had these dope fried artichokes last time with a superyummy aioli.
Sammi: But man, those knishes!!
Josh: The knish is absurd.
Are any of you bowlers? And do you plan to bowl here next week?
Michelangelo: No, I’m a drummer. I need to protect my precious thumbs.
Sammi: I think I am probably the worst bowler. So no. Ha ha.
Shira: I certainly spent many a childhood birthday party hittin’ the pins. I’d say I’m decent.
Josh: Alas, my bowling career only spanned a few months in high school when I was a proud member of my school’s varsity bowling team. I had my own shoes and a ball with my initials. I was not, however, all that good.
Dave: I’ve gotten progressively worse at bowling as my life has progressed. I might just have a Brooklyn Blast! and watch my bandmates, unless they add bumpers.
What’s the best part of playing local shows in BK?
Turkuaz: Going home to your own bed after the gig (and the after-party).
And what’s the worst part?
Josh: The worst part for me is the feeling of guilt for not being able to give my full time and attention to each friend and family member who’s there.
Sammi: Yeah, I wish there were, like, 12 of me so I could say hi to everyone and catch up.
Since the turn of the century, an inordinate amount of bands have made the move to Brooklyn. How do you stand out among the crowd?
Michelangelo: Mainly using our legs.
Josh: Well, do those bands have nine members with a full light show, four singers, multiple multi-instrumentalists, a magical electronic tube being blown into by a bearded man in red, and a giant string bean in purple singing notes that would make a young choirboy do a double take?
Shira: Trying to stand out is a little counterintuitive because it’s not genuine, and audiences can feel that. I think it’s just about finding your voice as a band and doing everything you can to make that voice shine through.
What’s the best thing about being based in Brooklyn?
Dave: When we’re actually home (rarely) we remember that we live in one of the coolest places in the world. The food, music, culture, and people. Like everything, it has its up and down sides. But, overall, I’d say it’s an edgy place rich in history and attitude.
When you’re home in Brooklyn, do you ever get out to see other bands play?
Michelangelo: Yeah, if the homies are in town.
Sammi: I try to as much as I can.
Shira: Which, sadly, isn’t a lot because of how much we tour. It’s good to be on the other side once in a while.
What’s your favorite part of Brooklyn’s live-music scene?
Dave: Um … Brooklyn Bowl!
Michelangelo: Pete Shapiro
What do you think about how much Williamsburg has changed since Turkuaz first started making music?
Michelangelo: There’s a Dunkin Donuts there now.
Dave: And a Starbucks, and a lot more fancy clothing stores. Some of it’s good and some bad. I miss the old days sometimes, when Cameo was our version of Cheers, but that’s what the previous people were saying when I moved here. Such is life.
You’re a Brooklyn band through and through. But do you carry that with you when you play other parts of the country? Or does that stay behind when you hit the road?
Sammi: Oh, totally. I feel like when we are on the road we become even more proud of being from Brooklyn. We wear all black, all the time. And we even speak with Brooklyn accents. Just kidding. But, when people on the road ask, “What kind of band are you?” We say, “Brooklyn powerfunk!” It’s part of our identity.
Can we expect a different set each night of your three-night run?
Shira: You’ll have to come to the shows to find that out. But, yeah, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves.
How would you best describe a live Turkuaz show to someone who hasn’t yet seen you perform?
Dave: Loud, sweaty, and fun. It’s a visual show as much as auditory. And it’s about having a good time.
Michelangelo: A violence-free hostage situation
Sammi: We hit all your senses.
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