The energy coursing through TJ Masters on the stage of Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge is undeniable. The tall, even somewhat awkward frontman for Brooklyn-based band, Conveyor, becomes a charismatic creature of music and movement from the first note played on stage. Legs moving seemingly on their own accord and body tossed from one end of the stage to the other, Masters’ enthusiasm for his music adds more than a dash of passion to concrete the band’s sound and delivers a dynamic performance for Conveyor’s audience.
Masters attributes this tendency to influence by impassioned performers of days past, like David Bowie, The Flaming Lips, Elton John and others. Masters’ roommate and drummer for Conveyor, Evan Garfield, agrees that he feels disappointment at lack of performance during a show, expressing that he feels it to be a symbol of commitment to the band and the music.
Garfield has no reason to mourn a Conveyor show. Masters’ energy in cahoots with the band’s fierce melodies and offbeat lyrics leave no doubt as to the commitment of these four guys.
The story behind Conveyor is almost as interesting as the music itself. All Floridan graduates and fellow artists in the Gainsville music scene, Masters, Garfield, bassist Michael Pedron and guitarist Alan Busch parted ways in Florida only to find themselves serendipitously reunited in Brooklyn. Having never played together before, the four met at a party in New York and decided to jam together. From that session sprouted Conveyor.
Much of the appeal of this collaboration of minds comes from the creativity and ingenuity behind the lyrics. Though Masters serves as the primary composer, Garfield explains that the other band members are always encouraged to provide input via email, a practice he says makes the band feel more united and involved. Masters and Garfield also site nature and other musicians as inspiration in Conveyor’s writing process.
“Hell yeah!” Masters exclaims. “There is definitely an influence from nature. We go camping all the time. It’s a chance to get out of New York, which can be so bleary.” This muse is apparent in the cover design of the group’s new album as well as the stage setup of their release show at Mercury Lounge. As the band prepared to entertain the crowd, stagehands tied a bouquet of fresh wildflowers to each musician’s microphone stand in honor of the album release and artwork.
Behind these flowers, Conveyor released a whirlwind of music and vocal talent reminiscent of Animal Collective but simultaneously specific to the band and its experience. Masters alludes to Animal Collective in his reference to Two Davids, a song on the band’s new album featuring heavier guitar than is customary for Conveyor and a rather industrial vibe.
“The style of Two Davids came from Animal Collective,” he explains. ” They have a similar song, and it was like a hall pass for us. Like, you can do that in this kind of music.”
Other tracks, like Short Hair, find their birth exclusively in Masters’ mind. While these simple lyrics may seem insignificant on the surface, Masters offers some insight as to the idea behind the words.
“Short hair is awesome, at least for me personally. I love short hair on girls: pixie cuts, bobs, I just like short hair,” he admits. “You can have short hair, but if you wait too long, it’s not short anymore. It’s the same way with life decisions. You can have amazing opportunities, but if you wait too long, they’re not there anymore.” Metaphorical and fun, as are most of the tunes from Conveyor’s new CD.
Aside from the release of their album, Conveyor has one more exciting event this year. Soon after the show at Mercury Lounge, the band loaded up in their recently purchased van to set off on their first real tour since they came together. Though they spent about a week in the northeast part of the country last year, Masters maintains that this is the first time the band has “had something to support with a tour.” To make the departure even sweeter, Conveyor purchased their tour van with donations through the Kickstarter program.
Conveyor will be making appearances all over the United States in the next few weeks, so if you’re on the prowl for an amazing performance by a crazy cool band, prowl no longer. Just check out Conveyor’s tour schedule.