You may have first heard of Too Many Zooz about five years ago when a video went viral on YouTube of the New York ‘brasshouse’ trio (Leo Pellegrino (baritone saxophone), Matt Muirhead (trumpet) & David Parks (percussion)) performing in a New York subway.
That year, both Pellegrino and Muirhead dropped out of university and starting touring the world. The trio released three EPs that year, another one the following year (2015), and in 2016 they released their debut LP Subway Gawdz (and backed Beyoncé at the CMA Awards). Last winter they released their most recent effort, A Very Too Many Zooz Xmas.
We caught up with Muirhead while the band was getting ready to hit the road for the next two months.
So, when things started for you guys, were you still in school or did everything kind of blow up after graduation?
I was still in school but once everything started to take off, I ended up dropping out. So, I never actually ended up finishing school.
Is that something you felt you had to do, given the opportunity?
To be honest it’s a really long story but it was a decision I had been waiting to make for a really long time. At the time, with how the tour schedule was overlapping with my schedule at school, I just had to drop out. But, it was something that I had wanted to do for a while.
How has your decision fared so far? Going from busking in the New York subway, to now being a huge band on the road?
For me, personally, I just try to keep one foot moving in front of the other. I feel extremely blessed to be doing what we’re doing. It’s awesome that we are rewarded in the way that we are.
How do you see yourself moving forward in the future? The band is a huge Internet success; more so than some bands that have been around for 10 or more years.
You have to have drive and ambition. This is something I’ve wanted since I was a little kid and I’ve been able to tour the world for the past five years.
But, I always want more. What happens is that I create a goal in my head and then I try to reach it. I’m always looking to the next thing; how can we get a top 10 song on the radio or how can we fill stadiums instead of a 500 cap rooms? I always want the fans to have something to look forward to, and when we come back to these cities next year, we want to have 10 per cent more people there.
Earlier on in our career it was a lot easier to feel gratification because our goals were so much smaller. Take your favorite top 40 artists at the moment, there’s clearly a ceiling that we’re at, at this moment, that they had broken through – and we need to figure that out.
That’s what I find so interesting about you guys is that you’re not the prototypical band. You can be the backing band, like you were for Beyoncé, you can be the headlining band or you could be the band in the subway station. Can you explain what it’s like to be able to transition so seamlessly between everything?
With social media these days it allows for more niche things to rise in popularity because of your connection to the audience. Before, you had record labels putting out albums that they felt catered to the biggest mass. Now, you see more acutely detailed fan bases coming forward for certain things that would have never received popularity. People nowadays are more apt to subscribe to something that is seen as different or out of the box. So much of our success is because we worked our asses off for the past six years but a lot of it is right place / right time; culturally, metaphorically or literally, I truly believe that.
Your last LP was released in 2016. Is this upcoming tour a precursor to a new album being released?
We’ve been sitting on quite a bit of new material for a while now. A lot of that has to do with how for years we were a self run organization. There was no team around us, I was managing things. The more you grow, the more people are around you; you start building a team, you have management, an agent, a publicist, who are helping you with all these things, which is great because they provide a resource that most bands don’t necessarily have access to. So, to answer your question, yes. We’ve been working on new stuff and we want to get to it as soon as possible. Hopefully as early as this summer.