By Sophia Varoumas
Inside the North Star Bar, leading up to an empty echo-filled dining area, Tab the Band sat around with Sophia Varoumas after they played a set in February. The Perry boys talked about the band pranks they pull, their jobs away from the band, what they write about – and their opinion on the fall of record labels.
These guys started out by just making up a joke rap group, with a joke rap song close to a decade ago. Just three years ago they got back together to work on that joke, but it wasn’t so funny anymore. Because of the track entitled, “Kicking it Colonial,” Adrian Perry, his brother Tom Perry, Louie Jannetty and Ben Tileston became an indie rock band. With half the group being sons of Aerosmith’s legendary guitarist Joe Perry, it makes you wonder what kind of music Tab the Band makes.
No one will hear Kicking it Colonial in its organic rappiness, as it became a rock song once they fooled around with the music and laid down the drum line. “We thought this was too good to be a joke,” says guitarist Tony Perry. “Let’s make this a real song, and then [we] only did a rock version with no rap version of the song. Then about a year and a half ago, we started recording more and it got all technical.”
Tab the Band reside in Duxbury, Massachusetts, except for Adrian Perry who sets up camp in New York, moonlighting as a musician while doing Trademark and Copyright law. “I feel like I’m kind of living a double life, he says trying to be responsible during the day, being in a relationship and then at night, going off and acting like an idiot.” Adrian gets more into his life in, “Know I Love You”, “which is about me, because I’m a narcissist and I only like to focus on myself all the time,” – using all of his breath before taking an inhale to finish his sentence; he continues – “because I’m selfish. I’m a fucking asshole.” No one says anything or really laughs, so maybe Adrian is only half-kidding about that statement, but goes on to express, “That song is not really serious but it’s sort of about the shit I’ve been through to get this band happening.”
Adrian travels back home to MA to their practice space at Perry’s parents’ house, says guitarist, Tony. “It’s a sound proof room in the basement,” Tony explains. “We make time and play every week at least once, and then sometimes it’s a couple times a weekend, and that keeps us fresh.”
If Tab the Band hasn’t played a show in a couple weeks, they’ll get together to practice a couple weekends in a row for eight hours a day.
Like many-a-band on the road, these guys stay sane by pulling pranks on each other – but it seems like the Perry brothers tell most of the tales, and Louie and Ben have too often become the targets. Tony begins the story, not surprisingly, saying, “So we really love doing shots of Tequila.” They were in Memphis. It was a day off with nothing to do, Tony explains, so “we [decided to] start drinking at one o’ clock in the afternoon and ended up at this Coyote Ugly bar.” Louie jumps in: “We didn’t know it was a Coyote bar until the bartender started dancing.” Ben: “We were the only people there,” though Tony clarifies that there were the four of them – and two other random customers. Then Adrian added, “Check out this perfect bar,” as the band collectively laughs.
“We’re there doing shot after shot of tequila, when Ben decided to go outside for a cigarette break. We decided to ask the friendly bartender to help us pull this prank on Ben,” says Tony. As Tony explains it, all the guys got served pretend shots of Tequila. “We got Ben one; but it wasn’t Tequila – it was Rumple Minze,” (a potent German peppermint schnapps.) When Ben came back, “I licked the salt on my hand and went for the shot and it was all Rumple Minze,” says Ben with a face of disgust. Tony adds, “It was the best face ever!” “It was like before when [Ben] had projectile vomited,” Louie says.
“We were in Disneyland,” says Adrian. “A few days before and we had done shots of Rumple Mintze, and literally they were in and out. But, like projectile,” says Tony. “We were in the bushes, in downtown Disney, in the club area just (miming a vomiting motion) at the bar stand, just throwing up, and thought – it would be funny to see it again in Memphis.”
But really Adrian thought there was a way better prank than that. “The best prank was when we finished tracking the second album,” Adrian says. “Me, Tony, our older brother Aaron, and our engineer Kevin, we’re sitting around the studio. Ben [wasn’t] there and they thought ‘we’re gonna get him real good,'” says Adrian. They decide Adrian would call up Ben and tell him there was a computer malfunction and the entire album is erased except for one song. “We still had to turn in the master on Monday and it was a Friday. We knew [Ben] was busy and couldn’t make it,” Adrian says.
“I had a heart attack,” says Ben. “I started drinking the second I got this voicemail – I just lost it.” Adrian, his brothers, and their engineer set up all these mics as if they had recorded all night and then Adrian left the voicemail. Adrian recalls the voicemail going like this: “Ben I don’t know what to say, it’s going to be OK though, me and Tony – we’re going to trade off and do some drum tracks. We should be able to finish it.” Adrian went on to include, knowing how serious Ben takes his music and his responsibilities, this would have him running. “When Ben [called back he] had clearly been drinking, and was really upset,” continues Adrian. Ben told him very sadly, “I could probably get down there tomorrow morning.” The two spoke on the phone for fifteen minutes until finally Adrian decided to let Ben know it was all a joke. Adrian says, “We have this inside joke, this code phrase, that we knew if we said it, Ben would immediately know it was a prank, and then Adrian says, “it’s about the conversion,” in an almost Mr. Howell-from-Gilligan’s-island-type voice. “We all started laughing.” “Ben just got really angry.” Ben blurts out, “Fuck you,” and they all begin laughing again. “I have it recorded somewhere on my computer,” Adrian lets out with a laugh.
They are serious, however, when it comes to talk of who they are truly as a band though the Perrys have different ideas of the good and bad in labels.
Adrian believes they are a truly independent band. “We produce our own records. We don’t have a producer or an A&R guy telling us anything to do,” he says, though admits Tab the Band did have trouble getting indie rock magazines or blogs to pay attention to them, and to that Adrian believes, “its horseshit. What we do is unfiltered – for better or worse.”
On the other hand, Tony thinks that perhaps with a label the success would come quicker. “We’ve been out for three years, and we’ve been moving up but it’s slow,” he says. “A record label has a lot of control of the radio with a lot of manpower still…Granted you don’t get signed to multi-million dollar tracks and stuff but all of a sudden you have a team behind you, and that’s a huge thing.” Tony believes if you have people working for you everyday to make your band famous, and get people to know your band, it helps. “We do what we can but when you have people designated to it, pure manpower and still spreading the word is still important and a record label still can do that.”