Rock duo Tartufi spreads DIY expertise
We all know that sharing is caring. Though if you’re a starving musician with little to share but your inherent melodic gifts, it’s easy to turn into a hoarder squirreling away any post-success wealth and industry wisdom. But for the two members of San Francisco’s exporters of dynamic angular rock, Tartufi, it’s always been about imparting lessons learned. According to Lynne Angel, vocalist, guitarist and looping maestro, there is no competition.
“I think a lot of people can get pretty selfish when it comes to music and can have kind of an ‘In It to Win It’ attitude,” the singer says. “We just like playing music with our friends and helping other people play music.”
That “we” is Angel and her cohort, drummer Brian Gorman, and the two make up the band voted 2007’s Best Indie Band in the Bay by the Bay Guardian. With both members juggling jagged time signatures and roles as versatile multi-instrumentalists, the decade-old project brings its orchestration of expansive, experimental rock to The Crepe Place on Friday. Santa Cruz is the last stop on Tartufi’s current tour (“hopefully we’ll be mind-blowingly tight by then or really tired and excited to be close to home,” Angel says), and the pair will play alongside fellow big city staples in Slow Trucks.
Like an Italian dessert, Tartufi the band is all about tasty nuggets of multi-layered goodness. Juxtaposing hard-hitting, gritty sonic bombast with Angel’s melodic, self-harmonizing vocals, the two-man operation wields an army of sounds via a buffet of instruments, pedals and looping duplication. Procuring a jaw-dropping live show that surprisingly lives up to swirling soundscapes on albums like 2009’s Nests of Waves and Wire, Angel and Gorman will come with guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, glockenspiel and mixing boards.
Tartufi’s rumbling songs swell to mask the minimal number of limbs and pipes manning each gig. But while there may only be two of them tackling set lists onstage, they’ve worked to create larger communities offstage.
Having already paid some dues as struggling artists—“we definitely had many years of eating Top Ramen and burritos, but it’s worked out,” Gorman says—Tartufi has spent its downtime from touring promoting the talents of those around them. In 2006, Tartufi headed a network of Bay Area bands to form Thread Productions, a label and collective designed to help local bands book and promote one another. Every act that was part of Thread has since gone on to tour nationally, so with Thread subsiding, Tartufi went on to form an annual music and art street fair in San Francisco, the successful, indie-centric Rock Make Festival.
Gorman, who also runs Rock Band Land, a year-round rock school for kids ages 4 to 8 that he and Angel started three years ago, says that making an effort to branch beyond Tartufi’s needs is a no-brainer. “It’s not like there’s any money involved, so the whole competitive end of [playing music] is just sort of a joke,” he emphasizes. “No one’s making a living off this stuff so you might as well enjoy it and expand your community while you’re doing it.”
Ultimately, Angel asserts, joining forces with fellow bands and working hard as a combined creative entity will get you further than waiting for Fate—no matter how much chart-topping potential you might have.
“You can’t just sit around and wait for someone to come along and knock on your door and say, ‘I heard you playing this beautiful song out your window and I’d love to give you $3 million!’ I don’t know if that happens anymore, and I don’t know if it ever happened.” The frontwoman stops to think back on her band’s beginnings and laughs, “We spent a lot of time playing songs by my window—and we only met some creepy guy once.”
Tartufi plays with Slow Trucks at 9 p.m. Friday, April 22, at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 429-6994.
Photo Credit: Jason Mitchell and Stacey Ransom