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Lawrence, Kansas, United States | SELF

Lawrence, Kansas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Funk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Aotearoa impresses at the Eighth Street Tap Room"

It's a rare pleasure to discover a brilliant new band, full of potential, just getting started. A diamond in the rough is exciting to see because you can hear the natural talent, the practiced skill and the capacity for greatness.
Monday night the Eighth Street Tap Room was hosting five different local bands, each granted a short time slot to give the audience a taste of their style. Among the various bands playing was a duo that call themselves Aotearoa. The pair of musicians switched instruments for different songs, one on drums the other playing electric guitar. This band alone made the show worth the three dollar cover charge.
Their set was short, just a few quick songs, but it was impressive. The rhythmic drum beats and snappy, clever guitar riffs worked together in perfect harmony. The instruments backed up the singing to make funky tunes that were easy to groove to and so catchy that every song left the audience cheering for more.
Jake Lerman, one of the band members, looped guitar riffs to play a second guitar part along with the first and even picked up a second pair of drum sticks and played fast, wicked percussion on a cowbell, cymbals and other percussion pieces alongside with the other drummer. Between the two musicians they produced more separate sounds in their songs than any average pair of artists could.
Aotearoa's style of funky, jam-band rock was danceable and fun, although you would not have guessed it from the shy crowd that stood around the Tap Room basement at the beginning of their set. Nonetheless the band's sound was fantastic and addictive and got the audience moving more than the previous musicians.
Every song was a brilliant, but short piece, that could easily be extended to a full set. This band has the talent, skill and potential to rise up high in the local music scene. As a fan of bigger local bands with a similar style, this reviewer would like very much to see Aotearoa take a shot at opening for such big names as Mouth or The Floozies. With a little luck these musicians can meet up and see just how well they can work together. Keep an eye out for more shows from Aotearoa, they are definitely worth checking out. -

"Aotearoa to release a jungle funk EP album of deep, dance-able tunes!"

Lawrence's own Aotearoa is releasing their first EP album, a combination of five funky songs that exemplify the duo's cool, energetic style of funk born from folk. The band's brand of hip quivering jungle funk is refreshingly original and perfect for any party. The self-titled album 'Aotearoa' is a collection of versatile songs, each with their own message, but the album comes together as a whole with fun, dance-able beats and memorable, meaningful lyrics. If you can listen to a single track without wanting to jump up and dance, you are not human.

Ilan Gitter and Jake Lerman work in perfect harmony as Aotearoa. They are so familiar with each other's music they can switch instruments with ease, taking up the drums or guitar for various songs. Lerman says they have been playing since high school and began switching instruments when they were part of a 4-piece rock band in high school called Purple Martin. Now the duo has recorded their first album with Joshua Browning at Hey! Bulldog studios, just north of Lawrence.

Lerman says he and Gitter see music as both a mode of expression and a form of entertainment.

“To us this album is a way to voice our thoughts on the world and culture we've been born into, in a way that does not come off a soapbox.” Lerman said. “This album, like so many that preceded it, acts as a spoonful of sugar. It's a way to laugh at the fucked up world we live in.”

The music on Aotearoa's EP comes across as a funny, funky commentary on modern culture, with smooth, flowing instrumentals and snappy, bold lyrics. Original guitar melodies, riffs and hooks keep the ears in pure bliss while the shaking, drum beats summon your body to move. Listeners might be taken away by the clever, jazzy guitar solos and rolling, dancing drums, but the lyrics speak in a way that is both funny and thought-provoking.

Lerman and Gitter collaborate on all their songs, and find inspiration from a range of musicians, including The Talking Heads, James Brown, Fela Kuti and Parliament Funkadelic. Even with their own original style of jungle funk, Aotearoa gives tribute to funky greats and the best of their predecessors can be heard in the energy and spirit of their own songs.

“In terms of content on this album, we range from rampant and unsuspecting commercialism, and a social fixation with wealth to the big round issues that much great music touches on, women, the fleetingness of existence and the strife that we all endure as our lives intersect these changes.” Lerman said.

A perfect example of the album's brilliance and many dimensions is one of Lerman's favorite songs: “I'm Alive For The...” - which can be heard on the band's myspace. The song's changing, swinging guitar and driving drums are irresistible for dancers. At the same time, the lyrics hold a great deal of meaning, speaking of the absurdity of consumerism, the mystery of life and ideas of kindness, value for beauty in the moment and yearning for growth.

“The name makes an implication that anyone is alive for some THING. That we are on this planet not to live, love and smile all the while, but rather to purchase and accrue debt.” Lerman said. “The lyrics further express my belief that despite what faith you subscribe to, no one knows what happens when our time runs out. We could go up, we could go down, we could just sit in the ground or we could come right back around. At the end of the day, every preacher is as clueless as you or I. So if this is our situation, why not make the absolute most of the short time we have?”

The messages and ideas expressed within the songs are a testament to the band's folk roots, but the music itself is based around dance-able funk.

"Folk music is beautiful, but there's a special type of euphoria that comes over a person when they walk out of a venue drenched in sweat, legs still shaking from dancing.” Lerman said.

As if a duo that can switch instruments, play inspiring and exciting funk, while speaking to the listeners on a higher level is not impressive enough, the band is also an organic creation of pure, live performances. Every part of an Aotearoa show is made fresh on stage. There are no samples and loops are set live.

“Tempos and timings evolve organically throughout the night.” Lerman said. “Every night is unique. Every night flows around that particular audience.”

Aside from the new EP, Aotearoa has a full list of other original songs they regularly perform and plan to record in future albums. Their full length album is planned to be recorded after their tour.

“Ilan and I are travelers, the name Aotearoa is a Maori word, that refers to the land mass of New Zealand.” Lerman said. “We spent five weeks hitchhiking around the island which solidified our passion for travel.” Aotearoa has plans for their first tour, shortly after the EP's release. This won't be a conventional tour, however. Having found their inspiration for travel in New Zealand, the duo will roam freely from city to city across the U.S. without a schedule or route set in stone. “We want to live and breathe this country and do it all while helping people get down.” Lerman said. “My hope is that we're received well enough in each town to leave with full bellies and enough money to get to the next show.”

With this lifestyle of free-roaming musical performances planned for the near future, Aotearoa hopes to jump-start the tour with a CD release show in Lawrence in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the date.

Aotearoa has a fascinating, unique style of funk that audiences love. Their brave first step toward fame is sure to be a big success. The band's brilliant instrumentals, witty lyrics and positive energy are addictive to the ears. As mentioned in the first review of this band's performance at the Eighth Street Taproom, Aotearoa is a brilliant new band born of natural talent and practiced skill. The very fact that they have started their journey to musical greatness in Lawrence is thrilling. Don't miss a chance to hear them live and get your hands on their first EP before they hit the road! -


Aotearoa (EP)



Aotearoa's Jake Lerman and Ilan Gitter cut their teeth on the back roads and highways of New Zealand's primeval terrain. Rooted in the urban tangle of Chicago, the raw island elements ignited the passions of these two vagabonding minstrels, forging a duo of funk-rock nomads. Abandoning the alluvial plains and saw-toothed mountains of the south pacific, the pair of multi-instrumentalists now perpetually tour the four-lane veins of the United States.

With a sound and show steeped in The Talking Heads, James Brown, Fela Kuti and Parliament Funkadelic, Aotearoa uses live looping to thicken a set already heavy with jungle-funk percussion. A steady rotation of instruments between the four hands and feet of the band keep a never wilting flower of funk in full bloom.