After announcing the lineup for the 2018 season of Art On The Rocks presented by Dale’s Seasoning, one thing was clear: Birmingham loves Tank and the Bangas. You let us know through Facebook, Instagram, and online ticket sales. The group is based in New Orleans, but for band member Albert Allenback, Alabama will always be home.
Birmingham Museum of Art: Everybody wants to know the band’s story. How did you all meet, and how did you combine musical tastes to develop your sound?
Albert Allenback, Alto Saxophone and Flute: The band coalesced around Tank and other singers at an open mic in New Orleans at a place called Blackstar Books and Cafe during a series called Liberation Lounge. This group of singers, poets, and musicians, known as The Liberated Soul Collective, started touring and doing shows around 2011. Eventually, Tank and a core of musicians became Tank and the Blackstar Bangas, eventually shortened to just Tank and the Bangas. This core of musicians now known as Tank and the Bangas put out an album called Think Tank in 2013. It’s an intimate, charming, playful, Disney story of a soul/spoken word album. I love it. I was playing at Norman’s church in the spring of 2014 when he introduced me to the band. They needed someone to play the flute part from J. Cole’s “Power Trip.” Right after my first show with them I stopped our manager, Tavia Osbey, before she left and just blurted out, “Take me with you!” And she did.
We have developed our sound by doing whatever genre we want without caring much if we’re the best at it, just playing it with as much of our genuine appreciation as we can. Think a swing feel would sound cool here? Swing out, man! Ah, time to head bang, let’s get it. You know? I would say we created this unique thing by believing wholeheartedly in our definition of taste, not paying much attention to the parameters that observers or critics or companies come up with after the fact.
BMA: Art On The Rocks is about blending the best of Birmingham culture (music, performances, food, and more) with the beautiful Museum environment. In the spirit of fusing music and art, which visual artists might best represent Tank and the Bangas?
AA: Some New Orleans artists like Ayo Scott and Bmike definitely represent Tank and the Bangas!
BMA: Birmingham has an incredible food culture. If your music were perfectly paired with a delicious meal and cocktail, what would be on the menu?
AA: Don’t say gumbo… don’t say gumbo… don’t say gumbo… don’t say gumbo… okay…. umm… gumbo? No really, this music goes with Ta’s chicken and smothered potatoes just like it goes with regional cuisine in Catalonia. As for cocktails, maybe a rum punch? I don’t know… something with Malibu.
BMA: What are you most looking forward to about playing in Birmingham this summer?
AA: I like playing Birmingham because people from Montgomery come up and see the show! Nothing like playing in the home state.
BMA: What can the audience expect from your show at Art On The Rocks?
AA: Expect to leave with a good taste in your ears!