Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz

Just before they hit their hometown of Brooklyn on their latest big tour, QRO talked with Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz....
Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz : Q&A

Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz : Q&A

Just before they hit their hometown of Brooklyn on their latest big tour, QRO talked with Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz. In the conversation, the singer/guitarist discussed this tour, playing at home, playing festivals, playing Montana, new record Life In the City, singles “On the Run” & “Life In the City”, their killer outfits (which don’t stay clean), and much more…



QRO: How is this tour going?

Dave Brandwein: It’s our best tour yet. It’s nice to see the fans loving all the songs off the new album and we’re also digging deeper into our catalog than on recent tours. The whole band is having fun and feeling locked in. It’s been a blast taking the show across the entire country.

QRO: You’re going to be at Brooklyn Steel (QRO venue review) on Saturday, April 6th.  Do you feel any extra pressure, playing in front of a hometown crowd? 

DB: There’s always a little bit of that. More friends, family, etc., and a big crowd. But all in all, those are good things and we try to channel that energy into joy in the music. That’s what we’re gonna do on Saturday.

QRO: You’re on a big tour, and you all often do extensive tours.  How do you keep the energy and excitement up on the long road?

DB: We change things up. We work on the arrangements of the songs, add new songs, and bring back old ones. I think self-care is a big part of it, too. That’s a different process for different people, but it’s important to stay in touch with what you need as an individual so you can try and bring your best self on stage.

It’s important to stay in touch with what you need as an individual so you can try and bring your best self on stage.

QRO: How does playing big cities like New York compare with dates in smaller places, places that don’t get nearly as many touring artists, like your upcoming multiple dates in Montana? 

DB: I suppose there’s some difference in the crowds, but our fans generally come to our shows knowing the songs and are ready to have a good time no matter where we are. New York can see world-class entertainment every night of the week, so maybe they’re a slightly tougher crowd. But luckily, we look out upon a sea of smiling faces in every area code!

QRO: Do you get to see much of a place like Montana, or between gigs is it just, ‘hurry up and head to your next destination’?

DB: Mostly it’s the latter… but occasionally we’ll catch a day off in a beautiful place like that. It’s always a treat!

QRO: You’re also doing a number of festivals, all across the country.  At festivals, do you get much of a chance to see other artists, or are you too busy with all of your own matters? 

DB: It all depends on our schedule surrounding the festival that week. Sometimes we fly to three different festivals in a weekend and we don’t see anything, and sometimes we have just one, so we stay the whole time and get to see some music. It’s a bonus if we also get to hang with our friends in the other bands.


QRO: How was making Life In the City?

DB: It was a long, but rewarding process… lots of trial and error that in the end, resulted in an album we’re very proud of.

QRO: How did it compare with making prior records?

DB: In the old days, we really didn’t take much time with the albums. We’d do a couple of days in the studio and not really dive too deep into anything. In retrospect, I wish we’d spent more time on it, and that I was more aware of some of the tools we’ve discovered in recent years because I think some of the older songs are better than the recordings. But on the last two albums, we’ve spent an enormous amount of time dialing in the sounds we want with our engineers, and we’ve treated the album process like its own thing. We let the record sound how it should sound and we work backward from there to replicate it live. Life in the City is the result of lots of hard work (mixed by Jason “Jocko” Randal at More Sound in Syracuse, NY).

QRO: Why did you make “On the Run” a stand-alone single, and not on the album?

DB: It was ready before the rest of the album and we wanted to put something out in 2017 along with a video. Then, when the rest of the album was done, we felt like we wanted it to be all new, and not include something people had already heard (plus we needed to trim the song count down to fit it all one vinyl! [laughs]).

Turkuaz’s video for “On the Run”:

QRO: Where did the idea come from to link the videos for it and “Life In the City”?

DB: Both videos were being planned simultaneously and I think it just clicked at some point. I can’t honestly remember the exact moment where it happened! But it was the plan very early on.

Turkuaz’s video for “Life In the City”:

QRO: How was making the video for “On the Run”?  Was the big party in it fun, or a lot of work? 

DB: It was very much both!!! It was a 4 pm to 6 am shoot at House of Yes in Bushwick, lots of friends and fans, and it was indeed a party. But a ton of work for the band, and most of all the crew, including direction/production team of Jay Sansone and Dani Brandwein.

QRO: And why then flip to an all-animated, indeed nineties computer animation, video for “Life In the City”? 

DB: Our friend and co-writer/producer of the song, Rob O’Block, was in touch with the animator while we were writing the song. The animator seemed to specialize in that Sega-esque style of animation and we were way into it.


QRO: With so many songs & albums, how do you put together a set list?

DB: I write a new one from scratch every night. I try my best to make it different than the last time we played in the area, as well as the shows the nights before and after. At the same time, we want to provide fans with a good chunk of their favorite songs night to night, and feature each band member throughout the night. There are definitely themes I like to follow, and material we’ll play most nights of a tour. It’s not free form, but it does change every night. It’s definitely a challenge, but a fun one.

QRO: Are the set lists for the current tour still dominated by the new album, Life In the City?

DB: We play up to about 18 songs a night. We definitely feature the new record heavily on this tour, but our whole catalog is well represented.

QRO: Is it hard to get all of nine of you to agree on a set list?

DB: No, luckily everyone trusts me with that. Sometimes someone will point something out to me once they see it, but 99% of the time, it stays how I write it.

QRO: Are there songs of yours that you’ve forgotten how to play, just can’t play anymore?

DB: It’s not a matter of forgetting. Sometimes they just go out of rotation for a while. That can be good for a song, and it gets a whole new energy when it comes back. We almost always bring them back!


QRO: Do you coordinate what you wear on stage, or is it just each person coming up with his or her own?

DB: Each person has a lot of freedom within their color scheme. Each band member has their own color, and beyond that, it’s kinda up to them. We coordinate things occasionally, and sometimes we buy similar things for multiple people. But part of the great thing about the colors is that it mostly takes care of itself.

QRO: Do you wear the same things all tour, or change each night?

DB: No, we change a lot. We have several outfits on every tour.

QRO: Given your long tours, how do you keep your clothes clean?

DB: Who says they’re clean?? [laughs] That’s part of why we have several outfits. You just take care of them the best you can, wash them every chance you get… and if it all becomes too much – back to the store we go!

That’s part of why we have several outfits. You just take care of them the best you can, wash them every chance you get… and if it all becomes too much – back to the store we go!

Turkuaz Upcoming Tour Dates:

4/5 – Hartford, CT – Infinity Hall Hartford *
4/6 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel *
4/11 – Ithaca, NY – The Haunt ^
4/12 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club *
4/13 – Charlotte, NC – The Underground
4/18 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
4/19 – Kingston, NY – BSP Kingston {Back Room Theater} #
4/20 – Boston, MA – The Paradise
4/21 – Atlanta, GA – Sweetwater 420 Festival
4/25 – Charleston, SC – The Charleston Pour House
4/26 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar
4/27 – Miami Beach, FL – North Beach Bandshell
5/3 – New Orleans, LA – Tipitinas
5/5 – Pittsboro, NC – Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival
5/23 – Martinsville, VA – Rooster Walk 11 Music & Arts Festival
5/26 – Napa, CA – BottleRock
6/1 – Newport, ME – Branch Fest
6/22 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre !
6/26 – Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room
6/28 – Bozeman, MT – Rialto Theatre
6/29 – Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
7/4 – Sandpoint, ID – The Hive
7/5 & 7/6 – Whitefish, MT – The Remington Bar
7/13 – Snowshoe, WV – 4848 Festival
7/27 – Burlington, VT – Tumble Down
8/1 – Thornville, OH – The Werk Out
8/10 – Telluride, CO – Telluride Jazz Festival
8/17 – Cockeysville, MD – Hot August Music Festival
8/24 – Tuscaloosa, AL – Druid City Music Festival
9/1 – Aspen, CO – Jazz Aspen @ Snowmass

* w/ Aqueous
^ w/ Butter
# w/ Brass Against
! w/ Umphrey’s McGee