Questions by Nicholas Stock
Euforquestra is a funk powerhouse from the Heartland that continues to attract new fans wherever they roam. Their music is “Funk Fusion” meaning anything is on the table and there are no limits. Musically each member of the band is incredibly talented with years on the road honing their craft. They have faced challenges with some members moving on primarily to start families, but with each change comes fresh perspective and musical innovation. I caught up with founding members Mike Tallman and Austin Zaletel to talk about their upcoming show at the Aggie with Robert Walter’s 20th Congress and slowing down a little.
WHO CAME UP WITH THE NAME EUFÓRQUESTRA, AND DO YOU EVER REGRET CHOOSING SOMETHING THAT IS HARD TO PRONOUNCE FOR NEW FANS?
MT – I’m not sure who coined the name exactly, but it was something that was said after the first time we had a sound check with our horn section and percussion. The band was called “Euforia” at the time, but after we had a sound check with the expanded lineup someone looked at the stage and said it looked more like an orchestra. The name was created right then and there! (“there” being the Green Room in Iowa City, IA, circa 2003)
It’s a unique name, but having something that’s difficult to pronounce and spell has definitely been a bit of a hindrance over the years. Honestly, I would change it in a heartbeat if I could go back in time… but it’s too late now! haha
AZ – Honestly, this was before my time in the band (which is saying something)! Hard to believe it’s been so long, but the story, as I recall, was that the band was called Euforia, and when they added the original horns (Jeter and Nick Thompson?) Someone said something akin to ‘It’s like an orchestra…!’ and thus the contraction was born. Would it be nice to change it? Probably, but we’re pretty much stuck with it now.
THIS BAND HAS SEEN NUMEROUS LINEUP CHANGES OVER THE YEARS. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PERSONNEL CHANGES AND HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED NOT CONTINUING THE PROJECT?
MT – We’ve had a lot of guys come and go over the years, usually because someone wants to settle down and have more time at home with family. It’s always a little bit of a setback in the forward momentum of the band, but it’s also a chance to rework things and usually leads to a creative push within the group. The process of training a new member always gives us a chance to reexamine some of our songs and we try to use those opportunities to breathe some new life into the music.
AZ – Well, people come and go. Band is a lot like family, and it’s important for us all to recognize that each of us has our own lives and directions, so if someone needs to move along we have to respect their decisions. As for the project itself, I’m sure that we all have moments of doubt about everything we do. As far as I’m concerned, as long as we’re still having fun, making good music, and playing good shows I’m in it to win it.
YOUR TOURING SCHEDULE HAS BEEN PROLIFIC FOR THE LAST DECADE AND A HALF OR SO. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN CREATIVITY AND THE JOY OF PERFORMING WITH SUCH A HECTIC TOUR SCHEDULE?
MT – We’ve slowed down our schedule a bit the last few years which was a necessary move for where we’re all at in our personal lives. We still like to get out and play as much as possible, but we’re not grinding it out on the road like we once were. I think having other creative outlets at home helps keep things fresh when Euforquestra gets together to play.
AZ – Our touring schedule has definitely lightened up over the years. Almost all of us are married, some with kids. This has forced our hand, in a way, to be a little more strategic about how we tour and where we go. Plus, as we get more experienced, we want to make tour and routing decisions that will benefit the band in a number of ways, both monetarily and exposure-wise. I think this is one of the ways that we’ve kept the creativity and joy in the project; we’ve got more head space to think about how we can make great music.
EUFÓRQUESTRA ORIGINATED IN IOWA BUT MOVED TO COLORADO IN 2008. WHY?
MT – The band started when most of us had just finished college. We spent some time playing weekends around the Midwest at that point, but the first time we ever went on a real tour was to Colorado. I believe it was March 2005 or 2006. On our first Colorado trip we were fortunate enough to open for The Motet in Snowmass, CO. We totally hit it off with those guys, and they had us back to open for them at the Fox Theatre in Boulder the following summer. That was a huge opportunity for us and those guys really kind of took us under their wing for a while. We started making a lot of friends in the Colorado music scene and after a few years, we relocated. It was certainly a business decision, but it was also a lifestyle decision as we were all in love with the mountains.
AZ – Well, especially at the time, the music scene in Iowa wasn’t all that developed, especially for the style of music that we were playing. We were also quite a bit younger, and super eager to get out on the road. Mike had a family history in CO, and most of us had been to CO visiting sometime in our lives, so we thought that it would be a bigger and better market for the band. At the time, also, we were traveling more to the West coast and CO kind of split the difference for travel to that region. It was kind of ‘coming of age’ moment for a lot of us personally and as a band.
WHAT IS FUNK FUSION? HOW DO YOU AS A BAND DIFFERENTIATE YOUR SOUND?
MT – Funk fusion is a generic term that gives us the freedom to play whatever we want! We all enjoy playing a lot of different styles of music, but it can be cumbersome and confusing to always list them out to people. Most of what we play is rooted in some kind of repetitive groove, whether it is funk or reggae or soul or Afrobeat, etc… so funk fusion is just a basic term that kind of encompass a bunch of those things.
AZ – Funk fusion is exactly what it sounds like. We try to take a variety of music, genres, and feels and synthesize them into something that’s reminiscent to and pays homage to classic styles but presents them in a modern way. We don’t want to remake the past, but be very much informed by it.
IT’S THE SWEET 16 BIRTHDAY PART FOR YOUR OWN CAMP EUFORIA MUSIC FESTIVAL. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO OWN AND OPERATE IOWA’S PREMIER INDEPENDENT MUSIC FESTIVAL?
MT – Camp Euforia is the highlight of our year every year. It’s a really special event for us and many of the people who attend. We have this amazing crew of people who help run pretty much every aspect of the festival for us, and most of them have been in their positions for a decade or more so the operation is really dialed in. A lot of the festivals patrons are people who have come back year after year as well. Every summer I meet people who tell me it’s their fifth… or tenth… or thirteenth time at Camp Euforia. It’s always an honor to hear that! We try to create a festival vibe that’s a little more chill than what people might be used to for similar events. It’s an intimate and family-friendly atmosphere which we all really love.
AZ – We have a great partnership with Cornfed Productions, Jerry Hotz (the property owner) and Eric Quiner (the manager of the festival) , and we’re so pleased to have been able to keep CE going for so many years. It’s humbling and an honor to be a part of something that showcases some of the amazing talents in Iowa, the beauty of our landscape there, and the awesomeness and integrity of the people. CE is so much more that Euforquestra, it is an entity that lives and breathes because of the hard work and care of so many people.
YOU SEEM TO HAVE DEVELOPED POCKET OF FERVENT FANDOM THROUGHOUT THE U.S. DURANGO, DES MOINES, BURLINGTON VT ALL KNOW YOUR MUSIC HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
MT – We used to hit the road a lot so a lot of it just came from being road dogs. The Midwest is a special place for us because that’s where all the original members are from, but those other places are just places that latched on to our music when we started touring. Long before we moved to Colorado, Durango had already become one of our most loyal fan bases. They are enthusiastic music lovers down there and it’s still one of our favorite places to play! We had to cancel a gig down there in February so we’ve rescheduled and will back down there in late April.
AZ – I think it has to do with the unique combination of our musicianship, musical styles, desire to get out and about, and the fact that we’re generally pretty nice guys. The music industry is largely relationship-based, and we work hard to put on a great show, be professional, and be respectful to everyone that we meet. That goes a long way.
YOU’VE BROUGHT ON SOME VERY TALENTED MUSICIANS TO FILL VARIOUS VOIDS INCLUDING OTIS LANDE FROM GREEN BUDDHA, JEFF PETERSON FROM ROSTER MCCABE AND MATT BRICKER FROM POLYPHONIC SPREE. HOW DO YOU FIND THESE GUYS AND HOW DO YOU MAKE THE INVITE TO JOIN THE BAND?
MT – Whenever we’ve brought in new members in the past, we’ve always just looked to our friends. This band has always had kind of a family vibe and it’s really important that we get along as friends and as artists. When we were looking for bass players a few years ago, we knew Otis was a free agent after the breakup of Mountain Standard Time. We all loved his playing and knew he was a great guy that would fit right in. Jeff Peterson is someone we’ve known from the Midwest for many years. I just happened to bump into him at a club in Denver a couple of years ago and found out he had just relocated to Denver and was looking for gigs. A month or so later we found ourselves in need of a new drummer and Jeff was our first call!
AZ – As I said above, the music industry is largely relationship based. Pretty much everyone in the band has been a friend or a friend of a friend at some point.
IS RYAN JETER STILL IN THE BAND? CAN YOU AT LEAST TELL HIM TO COME OUT AND PLAY IN FORT COLLINS?
MT – Haha! Ryan is one of the guys that left quite a few years ago to settle down and start a family. He and his family relocated back to Iowa, but in the last year or so he’s actually been able to get back out and play a few gigs with us from time to time. We all miss him as a full-time member, but when we get together it’s like not a day has passed. Ryan is such a great musician and creative force and I feel fortunate whenever we get to play together.
AZ – Ryan left the band some time ago to start his family. He’s also since moved to Des Moines, so it’s unlikely that he will be playing out and around in Fort Collins. That said, we get him to play with us as often as possible.
MIKE YOU RECENTLY FOUNDED ADD NOISE STUDIOS AND AUSTIN YOU WERE NAMED DENVER ACADEMY’S STAFF MEMBER OF THE YEAR? TELL US ABOUT LIFE OUTSIDE OF EUFÓRQUESTRA.
MT – We all have other things that keep us busy in our personal lives outside of the band. I started my design agency (Add Noise Studios) three years ago when I took the plunge into full-time self-employment. I do lots of design work but it’s mostly music industry related, so it’s a lot of concert posters and album covers. I recently partnered with Eddie Roberts and a few other folks to launch a new record label and recording studio in Denver called Color Red. I’m the creative director for the label but also work as a producer, engineer and session musician, so that new endeavor is keeping me super busy. I play a few side gigs around Denver as time permits as well.
AZ – I work as an IT technician at a private school in Denver. They are happy that I have a project like this outside of work and allow me to take the time that I need to get out on the road and pursue my creative side. Also, it’s a demanding position that allows me an opportunity to constantly learn new skills and be immersed in new technology, something that I’ve been into for most of my life. I also have an opportunity to work with the kids quite a bit, which is really satisfying.
WHEN IS THE NEXT ALBUM COMING OUT? CAN YOU TELL ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR STUDIO PLANS?
MT – We’ve been working on recording a little bit recently. We’re working on a few things in kind of DIY style and should have a single to release fairly soon and more to follow after that.
AZ – We’ve been working on self-producing tracks in Jeff’s and the Color Red studios. I don’t know if we have any concrete plans for a whole album, but more looking like putting out a bunch of singles in the future.
YOU HAVE A SHOW COMING UP WITH ROBERT WALTER’S 20TH CONGRESS, AS WELL AS PACKED SPRING / SUMMER SCHEDULE. ANYTHING WE SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR?
MT – We’re definitely psyched to link up with Robert Walter’s 20th Congress for a run of front range shows. We’ve all been fans for a long time. I recently had a chance to work with Robert at the Color Red studio and we talked about how much we were both looking forward to those shows!
AZ – Be on the lookout for high energy, great shows and possibly some new Euf swag at the merch table at the Aggie Robert Walter’s 20th Congress And Euforquestra w/ Graham Good & The Painters Sat, April 6, 2019.
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm