Just Add Water
In an industry where image is often more important to an artist's career than talent, and catch-phrases earn the most spins at radio stations, it's rare to find a band with the courage to step beyond the boundaries set by current trends. Nashville-based band Motivational Speakers are among the few who dare to find their own platform, and with their new EP, Just Add Water, they are ready to speak up. Formed through a string of 'Musician Wanted' ads, Motivational Speakers developed almost by chance. However, it did not take long for the members-Matt Taflan, Matt Andersen, Matt Jaggers, Byron Darnall, Matt Engbring-to find a kinship that seemed to have been in place for years. Sharing the same purpose for creating music and similar tastes in styles, the band quickly agreed on their overall sound and a plan for the future. Byron comments, 'Matt Andersen and I had a band for three years prior to moving to Nashville. We've made so much more progress with Motivational Speakers, than we did with the other group. The meshing of it all has been a lot quicker and there's a good comfort level.' Their ability to trust each other and accept each other's opinions have allowed Motivational Speakers to work together as one voice. Like a conversation between old friends, the band has developed a language that flows between their instruments. Everyone is responsible for the band's overall sound and songwriting. Whether it is Byron's addition of a jazz beat from the drum set or the funk of Matt's saxophone, the flavor of their music is distinctively affected by every player. 'It just naturally became our pattern that I would come up with a riff or lyrics and everyone would add their own ideas,' says Taflan. Byron adds, 'We seem to hash it out pretty well.' Pursuing a perfect balance between rock, funk, R&B and even jazz, the band places a large emphasis on finding original and fresh ways to approach their music. Their mission is not to create a new genre, but instead to give the listener a mix of the energy of today's rock with the stylings of old school influences. 'I like rock and the sort of funky R&B older type of music,' Taflan explains. 'I think that a lot of bands do one or the other, but you don't see too many doing a good job of mixing the two styles. It is either too soft or too hard.' Along with their dedication to their sound, the band is equally concerned with the message of the songs. Avoiding clichés and the typical love song, the band wants to give their audience more than a catchy tune. Pulling from personal experiences as well as political and social issues, Taflan as the primary lyricist for the group, crafts the ideas for the songs around real life. Andersen says of Taflan, 'He comes in with material that you don't hear every day.' Taflan explains about his approach to songwriting, 'The most important thing for me is for it to have some sort of impact.' Now with the introduction of their first studio EP, Just Add Water, Motivational Speakers is ready for the world to hear their voice. The five-song album, produced by Elisha Hoffman and engineered by George Tutko (John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart), highlights the best of the band's song list. The EP features the radio-friendly single, 'Half a Mind,' in which Taflan sings-With the scars and the words to an old song; Close your eyes relax and sing along. Singing along is what many people will be doing after hearing Motivational Speakers.