This is the second time this year Hiatus Kaiyote has toured the States. The Melbourne, Australia-based, future-soul quartet has only been performing as a group for 2 1/2 years, and already, they’re opening for the likes of D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and Shuggie Otis.
“It’s been a little intimidating, you know,” says bassist Paul Bender, calling from the road. “I guess, just in terms of we recognize how great those bands are and how great those people are as artists and stuff, … it’s definitely an honor to have them consider us worthy to share the bill with them.”
Hiatus Kaiyote touring the country, making a stop at the Pour House Music Hall on Thursday) to promote their debut album, “Tawk Tomahawk,” which was released in these parts last month. Both the album and the band have been getting love from many artists and tastemakers, including Badu herself.
And last fall, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the Roots posted an enthusiastic online rave about the band (“oh. my. gawd. this. is. DOOOOOOOOOOOPE” is how it started).
“I was definitely shocked about the Questlove thing, because he kind of went on a bit of an online rant about it,” says Bender. “Just the fact that he sort of doesn’t ever really kind of cosign bands like that, you know, online … He really believed in it. That was amazing.”
One listen to “Tomahawk,” with its convergence of experimental sounds built on a foundation of soul (the band refers to their sound as “multidimensional, polyrhythmic gangster”), and you can see why musically adventurous artists are going crazy over it.
The whole thing began with Bender helping vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Nai Palm get a band together. Eventually, they found partners in keyboardist Simon Mavin and drummer/percussionist Perrin Moss. Together, they have gone on to create music that has a multifaceted flair to it. Their songs often sound like they’re cramming many musical genres into one tune.
But it didn’t begin that way.
“It was never something where we sat down and said, ‘We are going to be this kind of band, and we’re going to do this, this and this,’ ” Bender says. “It was more just reactions, particularly the reactions to what anyone brings to the table.”
As they’ve progressed as a group, they’ve found themselves attempting to push as many rhythmic boundaries as they possibly can. Says Bender, “We’re always kind of trying to push, in a way, and not do anything that’s too inside one box, you know, because we just want to do a whole lot of different stuff.”
‘Long list’ of influences
These Aussies do seem like they want listeners to know they have a plethora of individual influences that they instill in their tunes.
“I was really into metal when I was growing up, so there are definitely heavier influences in there and West African influences and sort of electronic influences and whatever’s happening now in the big scene,” says Bender, who noted that the band’s influences collectively could make up “a crazy, long list, an absurdly long list of hundreds of artists.”
Similar-minded artists such as Flying Lotus, Thundercat and Quadron have become critical darlings with their inventive, progressive soul stylings and Haitus Kaiyote is being lumped in with them. And, according to Bender, they couldn’t be happier about it.
“I mean, they’re … awesome, you know?” he says. “Both Flying Lotus and Thundercat have been huge influences, you know – from a production standpoint and, with Thundercat, from a bass-player viewpoint. They’re incredible. So, yeah, they’ve definitely been a huge influence. I’m more comfortable with producers who are associated with some aspect of that sound, because that is definitely part of it.”
So, while they tour the U.S., Hiatus Kaiyote can rest assured that they’re blowing up at just the right time.