TAXPAYER
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TAXPAYER

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Sep
26
TAXPAYER @ TT The Bears Place

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

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It’s an extreme rarity to loyally adhere to a plan made at the age of 13, not to mention one made at, say, 23. Life goals for males of this age usually range from “get to second base,” to “make varsity soccer team,” despite the occasional overachiever with dreams of becoming an astronaut or, even better, Tony Hawk. Yet adolescent plans are the root of Boston-based band Taxpayer.

The name Taxpayer has been splashed about in Boston and New York’s music scenes over the past few months, and they recently released their first full-length album, Bones and Lungs (Lunch Records). It’s unknown whether this newfound notoriety is due to relentless energy, or a willingness to play anywhere and with anyone (sort of performance promiscuity), but undoubtedly the word is spreading. At its core, their music is pure, uninhibited rock, though the group is still in the process of fully defining their sound. Their powerful guitar and vocal combinations sharply contrast with the nature of their laid-back personalities. “I think I maybe learned meaning from listening to Fugazi,” says Marsh, over pints with fellow band members Adams, Jones and Tim Peters, who joined the band during their college years, at Remington’s across from Boston Common. “Then we heard Minor Threat and it just blew us away.”

Taxpayer has only recently carved a notch for themselves in the indie music scene. But band members Jay Marsh, Rob Adams and Mike Jones first formed the band while huddled around a cassette player blasting a Minor Threat tape, in an old army tent that Marsh says, “smelled like World War Ii.” The three friends had not yet conquered algebra when they hatched a late-night plan to form a band.

Since two of the three already owned guitars, Adams was immediately enlisted as the drummer and thus Taxpayer (though nameless at this point) was born. “I bought a drum set and I didn’t play it for six months,” says Adams, “I didn’t even know the snare was the main drum you were supposed to play.”

As high schoolers the trio began performing on the North Shore, which was home to hardcore bands such as Piebald and Cave In, and introduced the boys to the world of punk rock. “We were just playing for ourselves in the first place—it just didn’t matter that we weren’t going anywhere and we weren’t playing any shows,” says Marsh, “We just always liked writing together.” Though Marsh, Adams and Jones vaguely hoped to someday make it big—or at least perform somewhere outside of Marsh’s West Newbury basement—Marsh says commercial success was never their goal. “That was always the dream,” he says, “But it almost didn’t matter if we ever got there.”

This is a fairly common story, yet most adolescent bands, much like adolescent relationships, eventually dissipate. This is not to say that the evolutionary process that produced Taxpayer was without breaks. Band members went their own ways during their college years, and it was only boredom and disillusionment with life after college that eventually reunited them.

It was at the release party for their seven-song Ep “I’ll Do My Best to Stay Healthy,” that Lunch Records’ Paul Buckley asked Taxpayer to contribute songs to a compilation entitled Four By Four: Volume 1. This lead to an invitation from Lunch records producer Paul Kolderie, who’s worked with the likes of Radiohead and Hole, to release a full-length album, later titled Bones and Lungs.

The band’s eclectic inspirations are clear on Bones and Lungs; a quick scan through the album’s ten tracks becomes a game of “Name that Musical Influence.” “Bottleneck,” and “Bottom Line” bring to mind Radiohead-style guitar melodies, circa The Bends, while “Gifts With Strings Attached,” which the band recently shot a music video for, is a dead ringer for Joshua Tree-era U2 (the song could easily have included a segway into “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”). “Cut It Again” seems to borrow elements from the unlikely combination of the Cure and Coldplay, and “Dial Zero For Assistance” seems vaguely Pavement-like.

This mixed bag of borrowed elements shows an inclination towards Taxpayers anticipated unique sound. They haven’t quite made it yet stylistically but there are several surefire signs that the potential is there. The pure emotional force behind Marsh’s lyrics and voice (“Don’t trust the ones you love and adore/ People can change with time and they might need you no more”) is an intimate glimpse into his inner-psyche, and his insistence that “You’re better off” on the brief-but-brilliant opening track, “Among Low Clouds,” has me truly convinced that he’s right—and I’m not even sure why or how I’m better off. The determining factor, however, is the closing track “In My Final Year.” Separated by the other tracks on Bones and Lungs by its slow tempo and sharp turn to romantic, the song’s swirling, simultaneously haunting-yet-comforting harmony will immediately lodge itself inside your head. The song seals the albums fate as decidedly c - Tweed Magazine






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Taxpayer

By Miriam Lamey

Photo by Patrick Piasecki

Taxpayer is a rock band that's difficult to ignore. Over the course of a few releases, the band has quickly risen to the upper echelons of the Boston music scene, packing venues like The Paradise Rock Club, and toured the country. The band even had one of their songs played on a recent episode of MTV's The Hills. The secret to their success seems to be a core of just plain good songwriting. The band sports a fairly slick stylistic sound - not far off from well-read post-punkers like Interpol, eschewing that dark monotone edge for smoother, more readily accessible melodies from Coldplay's school of alt-rock. But the most notable aspect of Taxpayer isn't their deft channeling of popular influences or even their pop-accessible approach to post-punk - it's about the great songwriting that underlies it all, and the band has just released four more of them on their new split release with Somerville-based Dear Leader.

Fans of Taxpayer's popular 2005 release Bones and Lungs won't be disappointed with the new EP - also released on Boston's Lunch Records. "We figured it would be good timing to put something out this summer," Marsh explains, "in order to sort of whet palates for a full-length album," says singer Jared Marsh.

The band doesn't completely reinventing itself with these four songs, but the record shows considerable progress towards refining the band's already time-tested sound. "One of the things that we tried to do with these four songs is not be as stagnant," says bassist Tim Peters of the new material. "I think our last record was great and it rocks but after listening to it a thousand times and playing it a thousand times ... it wasn't very spontaneous." Anyone who has ever toured in a pop band can relate to the monotony of overplaying songs, even if they're rock solid. As a result, Taxpayer's new material is less traditionally structured. While the new songs still bask in infectious hooks and glorious sing-alongs (see the end of "Moving Parts"), the band has a slightly new agenda. "This time around, there are parts of songs that only happen once, either something that Jay is singing or just a part of a song that happens just once in the song," says Peters.

"Bones and Lungs was all kind of angular guitars and had a certain kind of formula," says Marsh. "The new songs have a little bit more of a kick to them - they have different beats. It's kind of a dancey disco feel."

The band's decision to release the four songs as a split reflects not only a shared goal of saving money on printing/pressing costs, but the band's investment in a local DIY ethic. "A lot of hardcore bands and punk bands put out split records and we [looked at] what bands were associated with what other bands that way, and we just thought it would be a fun thing to do," drummer Rob Adams explains. Given Dear Leader's similar investment in emotionally charged, atmospheric post-rock, the pairing of the two bands makes sense - especially given the opportunity for cross-pollination of mutual fanbases and tour opportunities.

"We weren't sure what we were going to do with the songs and [Dear Leader] weren't sure either," says Adams. "They are friends of ours, so the conversation started." Using the same producer, and recording in Waterford, Connecticut and Cambridge, Mass., the bands combined their work for a stellar and, most importantly, cohesive, full-length release. Given the quality of these songs, though, it seems an even bigger release is coming. Hopefully, we'll hear it in the not-so-distant future.

www.taxpayermusic.com

- Performer Magazine by Miriam Lamey


Taxpayer make a stand

Local favorites celebrate new release with two nights at the Middle East

By Jed Heneberry, Managing Editor
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Taxpayer (press photo by Katie Dennis)
Who needs Prince’s 20 some odd night residency at London’s O2 Arena when you have Boston’s very own Taxpayer. The local favorites have their very own mini-residency this weekend at the Middle East Upstairs, playing back to back shows Friday and Saturday night to welcome back the fall.

Taxpayer are playing in support of their split EP with another group of local guys, Dear Leader, which was released earlier this summer. The original record release party took place on a Boston Harbor cruise, a unique experience for the band. “It was a great time, but it was just so strange finishing a set and instead of walking out to the curb to get some air you’re on the deck, in Boston Harbor, with the beautiful Boston skyline right in front of you,” recalls drummer Rob Adams. “And playing the set and actually rocking back and forth, it’s pretty awesome.”

These second and third celebratory shows are quite justified. The split EP, Dear Leader-Taxpayer, cracked the Newbury Comics top ten local albums chart as well as its top 50 independent releases list. It contains four songs from each of the bands. “It hearkened back to when we were younger and into punk, and hardcore bands always would put out split records,” says Adams. “I always thought that was so cool, to be a fan of a band and go to pick up their record and say ‘Oh, they must be friends with these guys.’ The interconnections of it were always fascinating.”

The union of the Taxpayer songs and the Dear Leader songs proves to be more than the sum of its parts, and each band contributes something unique to create the overall whole. “For some reason it works well together,” notes Adams. “The music is definitely in the same vein. I would never listen to a Dear Leader record and say ‘Oh my God, that sounds just like that Taxpayer song.’ But then if you played both bands for my mother or something she might say ‘Wow that sounds very similar.’”

Growing up on bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi, Taxpayer has molded their sound by taking bits and pieces of inspiration from U2, Radiohead, Joy Division, and countless other influences to form a sort of straightforward Interpol feel. The band also includes singer-guitarist Jared Marsh (also a member of the Bang Camaro choir), guitarist Michael Jones, and bassist Tim Peters. Adams likens Taxpayer to Dear Leader in a very general way, describing both as “two good bands with good singers.”

Taxpayer is looking to continue to build on the success of their debut album, Bones & Lungs, released in 2005 on Lunch Records. “The song ‘Marionette’ on the split is an example of how we’ve learned a lot in terms of how a song is going to work,” explains Adams. “It’s kind of a lighter song for us but it’s not boring, and I feel like there was a bit of an objective to that song.”

As for releasing full album of new material, it is on the band’s horizon but they’re in no rush to complete the project. “As soon as we have ten songs that we think are good enough to be on a record we’ll get back in the studio and do that,” says Adams.

In the meantime the band hopes to extend themselves past their comfort zone in the Boston area, taking three and four day mini tours around the region in hopes of expanding their fan base.

Taxpayer have proven that they keep good musical company, but they go forth from the split EP with hopes to strike out their own identity in the Boston scene and beyond. And, judging by the strength of their music, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they succeeded.

Updated: 9/7/2007
- Boston Music Spotlight


Discography

Taxpayer / Dear Leader Split EP Lunch Records, 07'
Bones & Lungs (LP) - Lunch Records, 2005
Four By Four (EP) - Lunch Records, 2004
I'll Do My Best To Stay Healthy (EP) - Ernest Jenning, 2004

Photos

Bio

If all our waking days were as bleak as this band tends to imply, then Taxpayer would have no business making such exhilarating, life- affirming music. What would be the point?

More manic than depressive in temperament, this Boston band has already been compared with its share of hyperliterate, big-sounding, high-strung contemporaries. Yet Taxpayer is fast putting all its debts behind.

In fact, the comparisons range much farther afield than the contents of the average city college student's iPod. Taxpayer Is Recommended If You Like: Franz Kafka, Donnie Darko, the paintings of Francis Bacon, the smell of formaldehyde.

Absinthe, they say, gives you lead poisoning, makes you go crazy.

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, said another astute Masshole, Benjamin Franklin. Sex may be a great subject for rock & roll, but death and taxes are timeless. It's an apt approach for a group that's clearly in it for the long haul.

The four band mates of Taxpayer - singer-guitarist Jared Marsh, guitarist Michael Jones, bassist Tim Peters and drummer Rob Adams -- took the long route in getting to their debut album, Bones & Lungs. Marsh and Adams were almost literally in diapers together. (Well, not the same pair.) The latecomer, Peters, a college-era addition, has already been with the group for a half-dozen years or so now.

And their play for longevity is made plain in the music. The futile quest for safety and comfort are recurring themes; so is disillusion. When They Were Young fumes over the empty frivolity of youth; In My Final Year anticipates an invalidism that goes well beyond anything imagined by the reigning geezers of rock.

It's heady stuff for a bunch of dudes still in their mid-20s. Dudes who aren't even terribly angst-y in their own daily dealings.

If the subject matter is bleak, the music is anything but. It's rapturous. Marauding. Full-throated, knives out. Well-suited for a killer light show, even. The songs on Bones & Lungs are coliseum- sized, canyon-filling, mighty enough to speak on behalf of anyone within earshot.

And that's a vast audience. The band is called Taxpayer because the concerns are universal. This is no mere exercise in artful lament -- Eeyore with a beret. This is a powerful demand for something like meaning. Anyone with a number can relate.