I remember when I first moved to Jersey City, I would go to a couple of the local bars several nights a week with some people I met from school and there is one night, even five years since, which still sticks out in my mind. I was at the Lamppost and I heard music. It wasn’t the metal or the hardcore rock that my friends and classmates listened to; this was a mellow, yet funky sound, with a smooth kind of style that instantly drew me in–they were the Audiobodies.
WBM: First off, who are the Audiobodies?
TAB: The AudioBodies are a couple of guys from Jersey City- New Jersey. We were born and raised right here in JC. Music is our bliss and it has been a real blessing to perform for our community here in JC as well as everywhere else. We try to bring good vibes and energy anywhere we go. We are many things but I guess it depends on who you ask! Ultimately, we are just people trying to find our way in this world and peacefully co-exist.
WBM: How long has the band been together?
TAB: I met Wyme (vocalist) at Jersey City’s infamous “Water Bug Hotel” back in 2004 or so. I had been writing songs and studying guitar for a long time at that point but I kept it to myself for the most part. I was a graduate student pursuing my doctorate in biochemistry at the time. I never planned in being in a band or anything like that. My mentor knew about my love of music and persuaded me to play at “this open mic” he hung out once in downtown Jersey City. Having grown up in JC, I remember downtown being a bit rough as there really wasn’t much going on. Despite my initial hesitation, I went to this “WaterBug Hotel” my mentor spoke of. It was there that I met Wyme.
I was opening the night up with the house band there, when this dread locked guy I never seen before walks up, grabs the microphone and began to sing. I was blown away by his voice, like mahogany, rich and warm. His words, so honest, spiritual and pure just shook me to the core. I had never really worked with anyone before but at that moment, but I knew that I had to write songs with this guy. Wyme was kinda elusive back then and we would only periodically bump into each other.
There was never any talk of starting a group or anything like that. My path had been set or at least that’s what I thought. I never thought I would be running around playing music for folks. Till one day, a personal tragedy struck my family that basically changed my life forever. The path before me was completely blocked or diverted, I had to leave my studies, we lost our home, and the promise of the “future” as I knew it was ripped away from me. Wyme had going though some really tough times as well. It was during this time, we reconnected and started writing songs together regularly.
The music was there waiting. It was through our music that we learned to cope with our problems and get back in touch with our humanity. We became brothers and that’s how the AudioBodies came together. Our music came from a place of great sadness, pain and loss. But despite all of that, We were grateful to be alive, here and now, to celebrate life. Life is beautiful.
WBM: What makes you guys unique?
TAB: I am not so sure we are very unique people per se, but maybe our sound is? We would like to think our sound is fairly unique. No one sounds like us. Although his musical tastes are quite diverse, Wymes voice is very soulful, very Motown-ish, very R&B. I would like to think my guitar playing/riff writing is very rootsy-folky-bluesy-funky. There are elements of surf-psychedelic-raga-rockabilly type stuff with touches of Middle Eastern sounds in my playing/writing as well.
I love very organic sounds as there is nothing like the sound of a real string vibrating and displacing air. That’s magic! Its REAL! I love and study very simple, primal musical forms. Beauty exists in the most simple things and sounds. I don’t believe I have quite heard a combination of some of these elements and we couldn’t be more different from one another if we tried. Together, I think our sound is easily recognizable and unique. We love all types of music and combine these influences in a way that hopefully sounds “unique”.
WBM: Who are the individual members and what do they contribute to the band?
TAB: Wyme is our vocalist and he writes most of the words. I (J Hacha De Zola) write all the music and play most of the stringed instruments. Vic Santos is our percussionist, big brother, eye in the sky and the glue that keeps this thing together. We also have been blessed to have been able to play with some amazing local musicians here in Jersey City. Our dear friend and Sister, drummer Cat Lombardi brings her rich understanding of a wide variety of percussion instruments from all over the world. Hank Yaghooti has been our kit drummer on and off for a number of years. 70’s Bossa Nova-punk rock veteran Clodoaldo “Junior” Almeida brings his Brazil bass skills into the mix every now and then. Finally, multi instrumental genius and artist- Frank Ippolito has bought his awesomeness to the band as well for quite a number of shows. We love all these folks and couldn’t have held it together without them for a great number of shows.
WBM: If you had to pigeonhole your music into one or two genres, what would they be?
TAB: We don’t like doing this but ultimately I would have to say that we are a Soul-rock band? We’ve been called Alternative soul as well. Alternative to what? I don’t know. Well, I guess that’s for you all to figure out. I like saying “World-Soul”. Broad strokes here…
WBM: What musical artists do you draw inspiration from?
TAB: I (J Hacha De Zola) love all the great bluesmen that ever were. I am a blues guitarist first and fore-most. I especially love country blues players like RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Son House and on. All the great classic rock-funk bands of the 60’s and 70s: James Brown, Eddie Hazel, Parliment. I love guys like Steve Cropper, John Fruciante, Roy Buchanan, Dick Dale, Keith Richards, John Fahey, etc. I also love a lot of players that don’t play guitar- Ravi Shankar, Farid Al-Atrash, Abdel Aziz El Mubarak, John Coltrane among others.
Wyme loves everything from Brazilian bossa nova to hip hop to Motown to rock to jazz, just about everything. Donnie Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Kurt Elling, James Taylor, Ellis Regina, Phoebe Snow, and on and on and on.
WBM: What non-musical artists do you guys draw inspiration from?
TAB: We love all kinds of artists from every discipline. Especially artists that we know personally that do a great deal of good for our local Jersey City community. Artists like Peter Bill, Vera Vixeness, John Fathom, John Ruddy, Alica Ruth, Uta Brauser, Jack Halpin, Michelle Mumoli, Christine Goodman, “Dancing” Tony Susco, Erik Anders Nilsson, Megan Gulick, Lance Michel, Luca Cusolito, Chelo & Sirena Mercado, Kayt Hester, Mr.Mustart, Cloy-Pi and so many others. These people have contributed so much for the Jersey City Arts/Music scene that it just blows our minds and we are very grateful for them all! They rock our world!
WBM: What has been your most memorable music performance?
TAB: Our most memorable musical performance had to be for the Seattle Hempfest for sure. It was a real thrill to travel across the country to perform at the worlds biggest hemp protest rally. Legalization of Cannabis is a subject we feel very strongly about and support. It was the first time we played on such a big stage in front of so many people. It was one of the most memorable times of my life.
WBM: What was it like playing the Seattle Hemp Fest?
TAB: It was amazing, beautiful and absolutely terrifying all wrapped up into one! The Seattle Hempfest was celebrating its 20th year anniversary with over 300 thousand people in attendance that year. There were five stages and the AudioBodies performed on one of their biggest stages. We went right on after the 4:20 celebration where all the attendants surround each of the five stages for the great big doobie toss which is when thousands of joints are thrown to the crowd and lit up simultaneously. It is at that particular moment that hordes of people have gathered in front of these stages and the sight/sound of them all could cause ones knees to buckle!
It didn’t seem real until the announcer told the crowd “THIS BAND CAME ALL THE WAY FROM JERSEY CITY-NEW JERSEY TO PLAY FOR YOU ALL”. There were literally just thousands of people swarming around and all listening to us do our thing. It was terrifying at first but then you remember why you are there in the first place and that’s to bring our music and energy to them all. I have to admit I was very intimidated and my hands trembled quite a bit as we started up. However, as the smoke cleared up, we pulled our nerves together and had the most beautiful experience one could ever hope to have on stage. We were received very well and the beautiful people of Seattle embraced us with so much love. It was a moment I will never forget, ever.
WBM: What is your message to your past fans, current fans, and future fans?
TAB: Our message will always be one of love for the human experience and this great big mysterious soup we all are part of. Love for life. No overall message or big lesson here but just the story of our experience as living breathing human beings who are growing and learning every day. We certainly aren’t angels but we aren’t devils either. We love everyone and are grateful to be here with you all. The message is that life is beautiful. Life is mysterious. So soak it up and smile every now and then…
WBM: What are some ways people can stay up to date with all the latest happenings going on with the Audiobodies?
TAB: We just released our debut EP “I am because you are” last spring! It is available for download on Soundcloud! Look for it! Social networking media online has really made it easy for musicians and artists to get their music and vibes out there! We find it to be quite empowering given the state of the music industry. Now anyone, whether signed to a label or not, can gather attention to their work! It’s a beautiful thing! We are happy to see the changes in the industry. Please find us on Facebook-Twitter-tumblr! All those things! The best place to find the latest happenings is definitely facebook! Looking forward to seeing and sharing energy with you all soon! Bless up!