Tank And The Bangas Is The Eclectic Music Group Bringing Soul, Funk and Fire To Your Playlist
Blavity spoke with lead singer Tank about their TV debut, new album and the band's fashion.
If you haven't heard about Tank and the Bangas by now, you're late, so catch up because Tank is the name and green is the sound.
The founding members of Tank and the Bangas came together in 2011, but their 2017 NPR Tiny Desk performance is what launched them into commercial stardom. On May 3, the band released their second album Green Balloon, only a few weeks after their television debut on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. The reviews across the board have been A1.
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The album feels like a balloon drifting through piano sounds and soft chimes into gusts of percussion, bass vibrations and guitars. It's a total bop with production from big names like Jack Splash, Mark Batson, Zaytoven, Louie Lastic and Robert Glasper. Altogether, Green Balloon has 17 tracks; three of those tracks are interludes and one introduces listeners to various colors. Of course, the color of the hour is green.
TANK AND THE BANGAS ...— Allizay Greene (@AllizayGreene) May 3, 2019
Aloe Vera Gel / Ginger Tea type of mood !!!!
Damnnn it feels good to be Black !!!!#GreenBalloon
Tarriona "Tank" Ball, lead vocalist for the eclectic musical group, dished with Blavity about the band's television debut, their new album's theme, the colors she requires and more.
Blavity: We want to get into your mind a little bit, starting from the Tonight Show performance. What's the title of the piece you did before the “Nice Things”' performance, and what made you include it in your TV debut?
Tank: Since I am a poet, it's very important to me and my band members that I always incorporate poetry in every single set, even if I only have a little time to do it. That piece was actually requested by my musical director Josh. I wrote [it] with a poet at home, here in New Orleans. It's about guys who like to frequent young ladies' DMs [...], but they [only] like to speak to you at night and I noticed that and I had a problem with that. So I thought that it would be nice if that could be included in the actual presentation of the song “Nice Things.” [...] Y'all not taking people on dates no more. Y'all tripin'. [Laughs.] Y'all can't do something nice?
Blavity: What type of reception did you get in the studio and from online?
Tank: People just love that I actually did spoken word before, and they were surprised. [They] just loved it. People just tell me how pretty I looked.
Blavity: Y'all was stylin'.
Tank: Oh bruh — we didn't even know we were doing Jimmy Fallon. For me to just have that outfit in my suitcase? Oh man! I felt so dang ‘on lucky and beautiful. The studio audience was really chill, and I didn't necessarily perform for them. I performed — in my mind, in my heart — for everybody at home, for everybody in New Orleans. I knew they'd be watching, and I was super nervous the entire time.
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We must be dreaming. Thats a Good thing! Don’t ever quite your daydream for your day job. @jimmyfallon is an amazing person and we felt so cool just being in his company. What a way to start off a tour!!! And now for every emoji to describe the moment...... AWHATSSDLSalwdpepddelwwqlqeprrptpssmwepdcl mwsmermtymr💩💩💩💩🤮🤮🤮🤠😬😬😬😬😬😬🤪🤪🤪🥳🥳🥳🥳🤩🤩😛😛😝😝😜😜😋😋😋🙂🥰🥰😍😍😅😅🤣🤣🤣🤣🤗😶😴😴🥴🥴🥴🤒🤒🤮
Blavity: You just pulled that out your suitcase. Y'all always look so fly. Do you all style yourselves, or do you have a stylist?
Tank: I shop around the thrift stores in New Orleans, and I bring the material to this young lady named Blu. Her name's Cyan Jefferies, but I call her Blu [from Sunglasses and Lipgloss]; a Black girl here in New Orleans. She's from Philly, though. I can give her material and she just makes stuff with it. She sends me a drawing first, and I collaborate on the drawing I like the most, and then she makes it. That Jimmy Fallon outfit happens to be a curtain I saw at the thrift store, and asked her to make something out of it. So, that's the way it works.
And the band — I give them some colors about how I'm feeling that day. Might hit 'em with some blue, you know? I'm feeling green, you know? Oh, I'm feeling green. [Laughs.] I give them a color, and they have it in their suitcase. And after all this time of being together, they better have all the colors that I require. [Laughs.]
Blavity: You and the band shared what green means on Instagram. Let's play a game. I'm gonna name some colors other than green, and you tell me what comes to your mind. Wanna play?
Tank: Oh, let's do it!
Tank: Passion, sex, love.
Tank: Sad, sky, open.
Tank: Happy, young, sun.
Tank: Girly and boy-y; a lipstick that my sister loves.
Tank: Beautiful, empowerment, sexy, deep, the origin.
Blavity: Ding! Ding! Ding! Great job! You won that game. Now let's get back to Green Balloon. How did you select the songs to include, and did you write all the songs specifically for this album?
Tank: I had some songs already written and some I just wrote. [...] If you notice, this album really ain't talking about nothing too deep or too passionate. We kept it pretty airy, but the music is quite dynamic at the same time.
Blavity: I don't know about that. All of the songs fit that style, but one song stood out and came across as an unexpected flavor — "Mr. Lion."
Tank: I knew you was gonna say that! You know what, that song is the only one that I'm actually talking about somebody that I had feelings for — ”Mr. Lion.” About three people have told me that's their favorite, so far, and that one kind of scares me.
Blavity: Look at that. The one that scares you stands out the most. What made you put it on the album if it's so scary?
Tank: It's “Mr. Lion,” man! I cannot even explain it. Let me see. It belongs here, especially amongst so much other stuff. 'Cause while I'm writing this album, I'm experiencing these different lifestyles, I'm amongst all these people, I'm going from $20 to $50 — but I'm also still having complications, and weirdness, and crazy problems with somebody that I had feelings for. If that's a part of my life right now, I can't shy away from it. I can't shy away from it, so I had to include “Mr. Lion.”
Blavity: I love it! I know y'all been out, since 2011, but I came across you all on Tiny Desk, and I was just like, “This is dope music. These are dope artists.” The synergy is just there. Before that, y'all had an album in 2013. It's been five and a half years, since your last album —
Tank: Woo, it's been a minute! But the crazy part is that it's been so long, but it's just in time. It's like myself personally, when I first fell in love. That was in my late 20s, but it was just the time for me; I didn't feel too old for it or anything. It felt just right because this is where I am in my life. If I'm not supposed to be where I am in life, I wouldn't be there. I would be somewhere else. So, everything is in its time.
Blavity: I hear you. So I know there's been changes. What's changed since then?
Tank: Lord, there's been changes, but I like that I'm still rocking with the same core crew of the people that I grew with. We know, people now know that it's not just Tank. They know Tank and the Bangas. They know everybody, they know songs [and] they sing along. That's the change. Oh, and a lot of people in the group are not eating meat like they used to. That has changed! [Laughs.] I'm trying to get on the train, girl, it's quite difficult, but we'll see. It's so hard, bruh. It's so hard."
Blavity: Yeah, I stopped eating meat for like two weeks, but it didn't work out — but good luck!
Tank: They're doing well and I'm very proud of them, [...] and let me tell you this, it gives them more energy — it's better. Even when I just cut back on it a little, it’d be better for me because this lifestyle ain't no joke. It's nothing to get on stage and perform in front of people. We love to do that. It's traveling to the stage that gets to be difficult.
Blavity: While y'all are traveling and performing, what's your favorite song to perform?
Tank: Oh, that's too hard. You know what, Imma do one of my latest ones from Live Vibes 2, "New Orleans." Yeah, “New Orleans.” I love that one. I feel it just reminds me of home when I'm nowhere near it, and it feels good. When I first heard it, I cried because I just thought about the fact that home will never ever be the same again — and I love them.
YouTube | Tank and the Bangas - Topic
Blavity: Thanks for sharing that and thanks for carving out time to talk with us. I appreciate it and wish you and the band much more success. Before you go, do you have any last words for your Blavity fans?
Tank: Always reminding people to be careful of everything that they say, because everything really is in your mouth that you want; that you create whatever type of life you live. And there is freedom in being your absolute self. There's freedom in there. That's what I have so far, at this present moment, while I'm in my room and my sister's putting a green hat on my head, that's the exact thought I got in mind.
Photo credit: Alex Marks