You've heard The Park, even if you don't recognize the name. As the Bay Area's most in-demand rhythm section, the
trio quartet of Derek Taylor (drums), Josh Lippi (bass), Ben Schwier (keys), and Nate Mercereau (guitar) has laid down backing grooves for new-generation rap chaps Freddie Gibbs and Big K.R.I.T, cult '70s soul singer Darondo, and the Bay's own Wallpaper. But beyond providing the sounds for other vocalists, The Park holds ambitions to be recognized for its own original compositions, like this week's These Are The Days EP. So we recently caught up with Taylor to talk about the influence of the Roots' career, Ricky Reed's studio habits, and how the Park would soundtrack talk show entrance music for this year's presidential picks.
The Park has gained a good reputation backing up other artists, but is it hard to gain recognition as a band in your own right?
Definitely. When you're a core of musicians, a lot of people want to hear a vocalist and we don't have one vocal voice for the group right now, so just being an instrumental group is a little harder. But it's something we strive to do, and we also enjoy working with different styles and different people.
Which of the artists you've worked with so far has the strangest recording habits?
Ha ha, that is an interesting question! Ricky Reed from Wallpaper knows how to make something happen. With him it's this intense, gifted, directed energy that's like electric. He'll put a little Baileys in some chai tea and inspiration just starts happening. That's the secret for Ricky Reid -- Baileys in some chai tea!
Have you encountered any ego problems with other artists?
Luckily we've worked with artists where we've been able to unite on common ground and make something beautiful happen, so we haven't dealt with too many egos. I wouldn't really talk about anybody, but creative people need creative space sometimes and need the correct setting to make certain things happen... I don't wanna talk bad about anybody's ego! I mean, the people we've worked with so far, we connect on a friends level, so there's been no real egos.
What was appearing on the Carson Daly show with Freddie Gibbs like?
Carson shoots remotely now, so we hung out with Mr. Freddie Gibbs in Los Angeles for like a couple of days and rehearsed and then played the Troubadour. The camera crew that comes with that show, you don't even really see them; they're pretty secretive about shooting. And we just did it with Wallpaper. -- it's gonna be on Jimmy Fallon coming up later.
If The Park got a gig as a house band on a late-night TV talk show, which one would you prefer?
I don't really watch late night talk shows, ha ha! But Jimmy Fallon's had a great run right now; I love the fact that he's able to be creative and bring through who he wants.
The Roots caught some controversy when they soundtracked Michele Bachmann's appearance on Fallon with Fishbone's "Lyin' Ass Bitch." What would The Park play to soundtrack President Obama's appearance on a show?
Something Al Green-related... or the NFL theme song.
What about Michelle Obama?
Anything by Enya.
And Mitt Romney?
How about Bill O'Reilly?
Louis Armstrong's "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You." Though there's no ill will wished -- it's all with fun spirit to the rascal Reilly.
What if the Roots themselves were guests?
They actually have a cool rendition of "Melting Pot" -- that would kinda sound like one of their grooves and be a good choice.
The Roots are big role models for you guys, right?
Definitely. On a more peer level, like locally, it would be the Rhythm Roots All-Stars, 'cause they've kinda been in the backing band realm as well, but the Roots as a backing band during the Soulquarians phase were a huge influence on us. When they were touring with D'Angelo, we really dug the recordings and bootlegs from around 2000 -- we'd trade or get them off different people. They were so schooled in having a creative sound -- they were like Prince's band or the JB's in that they really knew their history. It's just a band thing that you can feel, you know?