Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Black Taxi

Black Taxi (Photo: Michael Fiske)

It’s easy to call Black Taxi indie-rock. It’s a broad field though, says keyboardist Ezra Huleatt, but they fit somewhere in there. The band’s music has been described as dance-punk, grit-pop, and other such mash-ups that try to define what they do, and has evoked comparisons to a diverse set of acts that includes the Talking Heads and Red Hot Chili Peppers. From a band whose members tap into such varied backgrounds and influences, it’s easy to see why pinning Black Taxi down to a genre is tricky.

Huleatt met bassist Krisana Soponpong at a rave in Thailand. Soponpong, whose parents are Thai, was into ’80s new wave music. Huleatt grew up in a strict Christian community only listening to classical music, but got into different types of music as a teen on a trip to Haiti; he had returned to the U.S. by way of New York and discovered the punk scene there. The two musicians, fresh from band break-ups, thought they might meet up back in New York and exchanged numbers. They got together stateside a few months later, and so Black Taxi was formed. Its order is rounded out by guitarist Bill Mayo and drummer Jason Holmes, who add to the melting pot with their own unique backgrounds and experiences.

In making music, they embrace it all: The places they’ve lived and visited, and the music that captures their imagination.

“If you leave your brain open long enough, you catch these things that are flying around, these musical ideas,” Huleatt said.

Black Taxi’s first CD, Things of That Nature, came out in 2009. The band had been together since 2007, and had a set of songs they’d been playing for a long time that they were ready to record.

“They were as they were, and we didn’t do too much to them,” Huleatt said.

The band took a different approach for the follow-up, We Don’t Know Any Better, which came out early this year. They left space, Huleatt said, room for the project to grow and change as it absorbed the influence of the studio and the recording process.

“We didn’t have everything fully finished when we went into the studio,” Huleatt said. “We just let the magic of the studio happen.”

In different ways, being in the studio and the act of recording let the band experiment and helped the album take shape.

“Some of them are a little silly,” Huleatt says, like using a toy piano on a track because it happened to be lying around and happened to be in the right key. “But some of the ideas come out really strong in their own ways. We left more room for that, and we’re more open-minded and willing to experiment more, and I think the next album will take that to the Nth level.”

The band members will soon be leaving behind Black Taxi’s Brooklyn home in a move that Huleatt hopes will stoke the songwriting process and enliven a growing fanbase farther from home.

New York is where the band first earned raves for its upbeat, high-energy shows – “we try to let the music speak through us, and leave our blood on the floor and our soul in the rafters,” Huleatt said. Through touring, the band was able to take its music across the east coast, but touring all the way to Texas to perform for the many fans there was a challenge.

After their current tour and a holiday break, the band will move to Austin to record an album, play shows around Texas and, as they’ve done before, let something new inspire their eclectic music.

“We wanted to uproot for a couple of months,” Huleatt said. “We’ll just live in a house all together and live, breathe, work, and play music. We’ve never done that.”

• Black Taxi will perform at the Black Cat Saturday at 9 p.m. For more information about Black Taxi, visit