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Q&A with Too Many Zooz

Jan 28, 2020

Brasshouse band set for Ithaca return on Jan. 29

Too Many Zooz returns to the Haunt Wednesday night.

New York City-based trio Too Many Zooz will return to Ithaca on Wednesday, Jan. 29, to perform at the Haunt. The band – which includes King of Sludge (drums), Leo P (sax) and Matt Doe (trumpet) – will once again showcase its high-powered “brasshouse” sound that was forged through relentless busking in the city’s subway stations.

The band performed with Beyonce at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, and also saw its song “Warriors” transformed into the hit “"So Real (Warriors)” by British singer Jess Glynne, who added lyrics and vocals. The band’s song “Car Alarm,” which used uses the alarm of a burgled car on a rooftop carpark as a metronome, has also earned much play online, both in video and audio formats. And Doe recently backed Harry Styles on “Saturday Night Live.”

In a recent phone interview, Leo P talked about the upcoming show at the Haunt:

Q: What are your thoughts on coming back to Ithaca?

Leo P: I love Ithaca. I used to go there a lot as a kid, and it’s a really beautiful place, and I have some family friends who live up there, so I’m excited to go back there.

Q: What are the challenges of being in a three-piece band with just two horns and percussion?

Leo: We’ve changed our shows around a bunch. It’s hard to know what people like. In New York City, it was so easy to see in the subway, ‘We’ve made this pot of money today,’ and you could feel how many people stopped to watch.

But at shows, you get a lot of people who come out who are fans but also introverts who aren’t really gonna show too much emotion. And I’ll feel like, ‘Is this a good show? Is it going well?’ But afterwards everyone will say, ‘That was amazing, it was so good!’ I’d be like, ‘Really? You seemed kind of tired.’ So it’s always hard for us to do the right amount of playing what we want to play versus what we think people want to hear.

I think to an extent we always end up coming back to, ‘We might as well have fun and do what we want to do and play the way we like.’ So we have fun with it.

Q: How do you stay in shape to perform your shows, which can be pretty intense and non-stop for much of the set?

Leo: I exercise a lot. I know the other guys run through the shows in their spare time, too. But for me the most important thing is exercising basically every day.

Q: How do you guys write songs?

Leo: Every possible way. Sometimes we write it all and layer it in the studio, and sometimes we sit in the rehearsal room and write it all out. And sometimes we just perform and improvise and it comes together. So it’s a lot of different ways.

Q: Are you playing new songs on the current tour?

Leo: We’re doing a lot of new material at the beginning of the show. We started off improvising, and then molding it into songs. It’s like clay – you put it on the little spinning thing, and then you mold it slowly into a cup and now it starts to look more like a cup than at the beginning of the tour. We’re kind of writing material as we do the tour. That’s how we’ve been doing a lot of our newer songs. So there will be a lot new stuff in the first half of the set.

Q: Why did you pick up the saxophone?

Leo: John Coltrane – he was the first sax player I heard. Basically, I played clarinet, but I didn’t think clarinet was that cool. Then I heard John Coltrane, and I was like “Oh!” My teacher said I could add on sax pretty easily, so then it just happened.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being in Too Many Zooz?

Leo: My favorite part of being in this band is that I can basically do whatever I want, if that makes any sense. We don’t have to stick to any style or genre or anything. If I want to write something, play something or do something, it’s a very open environment for that. Even if we all decide that it’s not working out later, everyone is open to trying whatever. And that’s very cool.

If You Go

Who: Too Many Zooz, with opener Birocratic

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020

Where: The Haunt, Ithaca

Cost: $20-$22

Event Info

Too Many Zooz returns to Ithaca Wednesday night.