Over the course of 10 years and four albums, the Staten Island-based instrumental ensemble the Budos Band have gradually branched out from their beginnings as a funk group inspired by the modal soul-jazz recorded in the ’70s by Ethiopian artists like Mulatu Astatke. Their new album Burnt Offering, though, goes off in a direction that’s unexpected even for them. They’re still as tight an instrumental groove band as America has produced in the past few decades, but on Offering, they pay homage to the thunderous vibe of early-’70s metal. Wondering Sound asked the Budos Band to pick seven songs that inspired their new sound, and saxophonist Jared Tankel told us why he and his bandmates chose them.
Black Sabbath, “Under the Sun” and “Wheels of Confusion”
Both of those songs are, maybe coincidentally, off [Black Sabbath's] Volume 4, and this is our fourth album. We’re an instrumental band. We don’t have a lead vocalist, our melodies are carried by our horns. We don’t write typical horn lines that are like a jazz arrangement, we try to emulate rock singers when we’re coming up with horn melodies, and one in particular that’s very important to us is Ozzy Osbourne and what he did with Black Sabbath. His lyrics obviously have a special meaning and content, but the melodies he sings are also very powerful. And, obviously, outside of the melody lines, the bass and guitar work that Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi pulled off together is something that Dan [Foder], our bass player, and Tom [Brenneck], our guitar player, strive for. We could easily have picked seven Black Sabbath songs for this list.
The Rockets, “Pill’s Blues”
The other songs on our list all have a heavier sound than this one does, but the Rockets are much more psychedelic. We’ve all been Neil Young fans forever — the albums he did with Crazy Horse are amazing, and Crazy Horse have a couple of albums of their own, but before [they were Crazy Horse], there was the Rockets. There was some band Tom was recording, and one of the guys in that band was talking about the Rockets and turned us all on to that album. That whole record is great, and there are hints of Neil Young on their album for sure. It’s got a lot of the psychedelic studio effects that Tom incorporated into the engineering on our album.
Iron Claw, “Clawstrophobia”
Our drummer Brian [Profilio] picked that one out. He’s the king of obscure ’70s hard rock — he knows a lot about that stuff. That song is super raw, it’s super rough, the recording isn’t as polished as some others, but I think the roughness and toughness of that song and the recording spoke to us while we were trying to do this album. Iron Claw have this almost demonic imagery — they’ve got castles and things on their album covers that are dark in a particular way. Brian drew a sorcerer for the front of Burnt Offering.
Alice Cooper, “I’m Eighteen”
The attitude behind that song, as well as the actual recording of it, inspired us on this album. We’re a Daptone band, and we strive to be the misbehaving band on the Daptone roster. We try to stake out our own territory; our music doesn’t really fit into one particular genre. We like to make our own roles and do what we want when we want. The recording of “I’m Eighteen” sounds really open, the way the guitars play off each other. It’s a tough little song, but it has space; you can feel the space on that record. While we were intending to create a heavier-sounding album, we also wanted to make sure that it wasn’t too thick with distortion and effects — we wanted to have space, so we could hear what was happening.
Led Zeppelin, “Achilles Last Stand”
Growing up, Led Zeppelin I-IV were staples, but in the past couple of years I’ve come to appreciate their later catalog more. Brian picked this one; the drumming on “Achilles Last Stand” is something he was particularly drawn to. That’s something that was important to us on Burnt Offering, to make the drums have more presence, sound-wise and compositionally. On our past albums, the drums have been super-tight and in-the-pocket and provided an amazing backbone, but they were engineered and mixed to be very [far] back in the mix. On this album, we wanted to bring them more to the front — it’s where we’re at these days in the live show as well as the recording context.
Deep Purple, “Bloodsucker”
Deep Purple had a heavy influence on our writing on this record, in a similar way to Black Sabbath. Both bands had some membership turnover, although I think the classic lineup of Black Sabbath was much more stable than Deep Purple, and so Sabbath were able to carve out their personality as a band a little better than Purple. And I think there are some bad Deep Purple albums — their catalog isn’t as spot-on as Sabbath. For a while, we were messing around with a cover of another song on that Deep Purple album, “Into the Fire.” We’ve only done that with a couple of rock tunes. Sometimes it can come off really cheesy, but Deep Purple seemed to translate really decently, and I think it’s because melodically, there’s some similarities. Last year we were on tour in Europe, and we had a tour bus with a DVD in the back lounge area. We had a Deep Purple DVD and a Black Sabbath DVD, and every night after the show we’d go back and watch those. Every night, at least once. It got kind of weird.