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Published: 2014/06/20
by Glenn H Roth

Euforquestra Has The Fire

Euforquestra is busy promoting and planning.

The multi-piece eclectic, funk band recently released a new album and is set to headline a summer festival.

The band’s fifth studio album, Fire, was produced by Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident and includes guest appearances by Elliot Martin of John Brown’s Body and Gabriel Mervine and Kim Dawson of The Motet. And in July, Euforquestra hosts its 11th annual Camp Euforia in Lone Tree, Iowa. spoke with founding guitarist Mike Tallman by phone to discuss the band’s Iowa roots, Colorado home, Euforia lineup and the new album.

Can you talk about the band’s deep ties that run all the way back to your high school days?

Me and six other guys started a balled call Euphoria back in high school in 1999 in Des Moines, Iowa. We would take any opportunity to play. The cool thing was that we were a bunch of high school kids. We had seven guys in our band from all three big high schools in Des Moines. So when we would play a gig at a tiny coffee shop, it would be packed with kids from the three big high schools. It was unique. At least, I like to think it was.

When we graduated high school, four of us moved to Iowa City to attend University of Iowa, and to keep the band together. We kept the band Euphoria alive, and then in 2003, when we were freshmen and sophomores in college, it grew into Euforquestra and we added horns and percussions.

How did the band evolve into Euforquestra?

We met these horn players from University of Northern Iowa and this really good percussionist and we said, “Come sit in with us at our next gig.” We didn’t rehearse anything. We just said, “Follow along and make stuff up.” After we did that a couple of times, we got to thinking that maybe we should practice and make this the band. Everyone was into it. We had never played with horns and percussions before. It was great and it was totally, what we were looking for.

After you added the horn players and the percussionist, were you building a strong college fan base in Iowa City?

By the time, we had run into those guys and they started playing with us, we had started to become fairly popular around town, but it definitely took us to another level of local popularity. We still played locally for a long time, but eventually, we were having so much fun, and everyone was committed to it, we were like, Hey lets save some money and buy a van and play some other places. We would go out on the road for two days at a time and play Madison, Wisconsin, or Chicago. Even after we bought our van, we would still take any opportunity presented to us. One of the first times we played out of state, we played Minnesota and booked two gigs in Bemidji, 12 hours north of Iowa City. You’re practically in Canada by the time you get there. We played two nights in two different clubs. There were a few people there each night. It wasn’t a crazy sold-out crowd but the thrill of traveling and doing this, was a magical moment for us, no matter what the crowd was.

In 2008, the band relocated to Fort Collins, CO. What was the decision process?

When we first started traveling, we playing one of two days at a time in the Midwest. The first time we went on a real tour and played a string of shows was Colorado. We played six shows in seven days. We loved the experience and couldn’t wait to do it again. We ended up coming back and after being there a few times, we ended up making connections and friends, and working with venues that liked the band. It definitely was a business decision in terms of getting into a different scene, but it was also the personal lifestyle aspect of it. So all seven guys in the band, four girlfriends, one child, bunch of cats and dogs and one turtle went out there. It was quite a convoy.

Reflecting back, how has the move changed and influenced the band?

It was kind of an eye-opener. We were used to being the bigger fish in the smaller pond, which was great but it was really good for us to move into a place where there was a bigger scene and industry and to have to start at bottom of the totem pole. It was kind of an eye-opener too, because in Iowa City, we would play a headlining show at one of the music venue’s in town every single month: Now, we only play Fort Collins two or three times a year. We didn’t realize that’s what you have to do in Colorado. When we moved out there, I think we played Fort Collins, three or four times in the first month. We realized, “We can’t just keep doing this because people will stop coming to our shows.” We learned a lot about spacing out our shows and turning each one into a big event. We started working with a manager and booking agent around the same time and that was a new thing for us too.

In the summer of 2008, you played with Page McConnell of Phish. What was that experience like?

It was kind of surreal. That whole thing happened because there were a couple of promoters based in Fort Collins that wanted to put on a string of shows to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims. So they put together a 3-day show – that took place in Fort Collins, Bolder and Denver – called The Big Easy Blowout. They put together a pick-up band with Russell Batiste on drums, Reed Mathis on bass, Page on keys, Papa Mali on guitar . They had us open all three of those shows. The second night, we were playing the Boulder Theatre and we ended up taking to Page for a really long time. And Ryan Jeter, who was playing saxophone at the time, said, “You should sit it with us tomorrow when we play in Denver?” And Page was like, “That would be cool.” And he watched our whole set that night in Boulder. And the next day during the afternoon in Denver, we got a phone call from the promoter, “Page is requesting you to come down here. He wants to rehearse with you” and we were like, “Okay, we’ll be there shortly.” Nobody expected him to be into it, but he was.

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