“When I play, I want to inspire people and show them that playing a brass instrument can be cool and they can have a lot of fun doing it,” says trumpeter Joshua Gawel of LUCKY CHOPS, the explosive brass/woodwind/drums juggernaut of a band who have been creating quite a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. Gearing up for the release of their new EP WALTER (independent; release date: April 21, 2017), the NYC-based five-piece successfully arranges instrumental music with Pop sensibilities and accessibility, complete with choruses and verses. “Since we’re an instrumental band, we all share the role of singer, and that vocal quality comes across in all of our playing, even with our drummer Charles.”
Kicking off with the rhythm-heavy scorcher “Temple of Boom”, the Walter EP is rife with an insidious groove that threads its way throughout the EP, a thrilling experience that successfully captures the energy of their sweat-drenched live shows. The slow-burn and epic “Stand” (written as a somber and intense recognition of the Standing Rock’s water protectors) keeps listeners keenly in-tune with the bands earnest social convictions and flows right into the funky battle of Charles Sams IV’s drums vs. Daro Behroozi’s bass clarinet in the appropriately titled “Daro and Charles’ Magnificent Journey”. Their adrenaline-injected cover of “Helter Skelter” gives the Beatles classic a fresh spin that makes you forget there aren’t vocals present while “Walter Jam” showcases each of the band members’ musical adeptness and skill. The reverent and melancholy “For Connie” closes out the EP in traditional orchestral form. Written as a tribute to Behroozi’s recently departed inspirational music teacher, it is dedicated to all of the music educators who devote their lives to teaching music to people young and old.
1. Temple of Boom
3. Daro and Charles’ Magnificent Journey
4. Helter Skelter
5. Walter Jam
6. For Connie
Already amassing millions of fans around the world who have discovered the band through their wildly popular videos, their vibrant social media following or at one of their sold out headline shows or festival appearances across Europe, North and South America, the band’s music attracts audiences of all backgrounds, carrying with it an infectious energy. NPR’s Bob Boilen caught them at last year’s SxSW and subsequently proclaimed them one of SxSW’s “break out bands”, describing them as a “totally on-fire, big-ass brass band. They are so full of life, with such a fresh take on brass — gnarly, punky and funky”.
Getting their start in Lucky Chops as teenagers at NYC’s renowned LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts, trombonist Josh Holcomb, sousaphonist Raphael Buyo, and saxophonist and bass clarinetist Daro Behroozi started playing together outside of class, adapting the pop and rock music that they knew and loved into modern brass band tunes and performing them live in parks and parades around the metropolitan city. “Growing up in New York City, we were all exposed to so many different cultures and music and people, and that uniquely New York experience really defines our band,” explains Holcomb. “Our music is inclusive of such a diverse range of experiences, and we invite all people to share in the magic.” Adding rising stars in trumpeter Joshua Gawel and drummer Charles Sams IV to round out their fresh emerging sound and line-up, the band began to broaden and define their sound even more incorporating an expanding range of sounds and stylistic influences in their music.
Building a formidable presence in the subways of New York City in 2014 as part of the Music Under New York program, Lucky Chops grew into the dynamic performers that they are today. Holcomb says, “Playing in the subway gave us the chance to perform for thousands of people each day. We were down there trying to spread joy and positivity in a place that can be very dark and stressful, and as we observed people’s reactions we really started to figure out what works and what doesn’t, what makes people smile and gets them moving and brightens their day. Now, when we play on huge stages in front of screaming crowds, we’re really taking what we learned in the subway and using it to connect on a deep level with tons of people all around the world.”
Their live shows on tours in Europe and the US have all been wildly successful sellouts. “I’ve had people come up to me after shows and tell me that they have never danced in public before, but they couldn’t help themselves at our show,” says Behroozi.
Even as they journey to Central and South America for the first time later this Spring, and before heading back overseas for an entire summer of festivals, Lucky Chops will be performing a spate of US shows in April, May and June (tour dates below). “This band makes popular music in the truest sense of the term – it is music that comes from the people, music that is meant for everybody to enjoy, to dance to,” adds Sams IV. “We’re having a giant party and everyone is invited to come and celebrate life.”
Lucky Chops is Josh Holcomb (trombone), Daro Behroozi (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Raphael Buyo (sousaphone), Joshua Gawel (trumpet), and Charles Sams IV (drums). Walter E.P. will be released independently on April 21, 2017.