Muzz is the new project of Paul Banks (singer of Interpol), Josh Kaufman (esteemed producer/multi-instrumentalist and one third of Bonny Light Horseman), and Matt Barrick (drummer of Jonathan Fire*Eater, The Walkmen, and Fleet Foxes’ touring band). Today, the trio release their first official single/video, the loungey and romantic “Broken Tambourine” via Matador. “Broken Tambourine” begins with sparse, floating piano by Kaufman, before surging with Banks’ rumbling vocals, Barrick’s low percussion, and a lilting clarinet, while an open door during recording brings in the surrounding nature sounds of the studio in Woodstock and augments the song’s spacious atmosphere. Written, arranged and performed by all three, it perfectly encompasses the collaborative essence of Muzz, a group with recordings dating back to 2015, but, cosmically speaking, with seeds planted long ago.
So how did we get here? Why, casually, of course. Banks and Kaufman have been friends since their formative teen years, having attended high school together overseas before separately moving to New York City for further study. There, they independently crossed paths with Barrick while running in similar music circles. Some years on, they each remained in touch: Barrick drummed in Banks’ project with The RZA, Banks + Steelz, and on some of Kaufman’s production sessions; Kaufman helped on Banks’s early Julian Plenti solo endeavor; various demos were collaborated on; a studio in Philadelphia was co- bought; “what if”s and “we should”s were tossed about. When the opportunity to make music as a trio presented itself, the gentlemen pounced.
While “Broken Tambourine” is the band’s first official song for Matador, earlier this month, Muzz dropped “Bad Feeling” anonymously via Soundcloud. Stereogum recognized it as “a surprisingly loose and low-key indie track that piles on layers of beauty as it goes.” It chimes and slinks with a touch of panache as Barrick’s kick drum pushes the tune along and Kaufman’s Farfisa fills the space. Together, these two initial numbers from Muzz offer an early glimpse into the band’s dark and expansive sound, and genuine artistic chemistry.