Jeff Taylor carries around three Moleskine journals with him everywhere. With a circle on the front, one carries the evocatively introspective lyrics he’s produced for his band Dumpster Hunter. A second one with a straight line on the cover is filled with more “cerebral notes and day-to-day things.” The most newly developed of the journals, with a planet in the middle, is filled with unfinished equations and notes from the open course on astronomy he takes. For Taylor, the notes in all three tend to crossover, bleeding the thoughts into one another to a point where his burgeoning love for astrophysics, cosmology, and astronomy are finding a place in his songs and in his life. “I don’t think there’s any way to separate it,” he says. “I think, if anything, I’m just trying to quantify things.”
In a small rehearsal space in Williamsburg, Taylor, joined by bassist Chris Morrissey of Taurus, continues to quantify the place of his newer material and more scholarly interests in the entire trajectory of his sound. The two fluidly move through songs and thoughts in a natural, loving way. It fits with the way both talk about each other and fellow bandmates Steve Wall (guitar/keys/voice) and Mark Guiliana (drums). “We’re all just best buds that are hanging out as much as possible, even when we’re not playing,” says Taylor with a distinct earnestness. “Sincerely they’re my best friends. All the guys in the band.”
Taylor’s very genuine appreciation of the place Morrissey, Wall, and Guiliana hold in his life and career stem from the trio’s devotion to consistently contributing to Taylor’s musical efforts. Technically the brainchild and a project of Jeff’s own, Dumpster Hunter’s musical backbone is comprised of local musicians with their own successful or rising projects that they front. The group of friends, however, have found time to remain as important attributes to one another’s musical forays locally within the two years that Taylor’s project has existed in its current form. For Jeff, the explanation of how the group can remain devoted to personal responsibilities while loyal to commitments to one another can be quantified more scientifically. Comparing the group’s friendship to the concept of ‘waltzing galaxies,’ Taylor is aware of the existing fluidity. “We’re all galaxies of our own,” he says. “We all have these galactic responsibilities of our own, but we just can’t help but to do these very natural, unplanned waltzes.”
Waltzing, in the more choreographed sense, is something Morrissey and Taylor seemed to be doing as they played with one another. Hailing from New Jersey, like bandmates Wall and Guiliana, Taylor carries a distinctly East Coast neuroses and jumps between charming jokes and his scientific musings as if he were the lost character from a Woody Allen film. It translates to his music as well–citing Randy Newman as a vocal influence, his words hasten and jolt against the powerhouse rhythms of his songs as heard clearly on the band’s debut album Frustration in Time Travel. The album blends genres and Taylor’s array of influences from Dire Straits to Annie Lennox and Dave Matthews Band. Morrissey, holding down the steady bass, emits a more calm, Midwestern vibe that plays well with Taylor’s restlessness. Having come from Minnesota to Brooklyn five years ago, Morrissey cites humor as the reason the group bonded after Taylor praises the Midwesterner’s comedic abilities. “After the musical connection, the way we congealed as a unit was that we’re all into some pretty left of center humor,” he says. As they slipped into an inside joke about a very specific Morgan Freeman impression they had both been perfecting, not much further explanation was needed.
Having released their debut album in the spring of 2012, which also worked as the first release for Rockwood Music Hall Recordings (based out of the esteemed L.E.S. venue), Taylor has been preparing, perfecting, and slowly unleashing new material ever since. Songs like “Paper Thin” and “Borealis,” both with very mellow and moving melodies, showcase the intertwining of his music with his love of astrophysics more concretely than in the past. “Paper Thin” takes the concept of quantifying more figuratively. “[The song] was definitely my inner attempt to quantify my hard time I was having getting through a break-up,” explains Taylor. For Morrissey, “that song made sense” as soon as he first encountered it. The much newer “Borealis” is a more literal combination of Taylor’s two loves as he sings about the actual Aurora Borealis.
As for dates, Taylor sees the new material being released “sooner than I think.” He saw his debut as “a carnival with different booths” but is just breathing life into the newer one. “There’s less cock in the rock,” he says. “I’m trying to see how much I can actually accomplish just kind of exhaling as a performer.” That concept is something that needs very little quantification.
Dumpster Hunter play Rockwood 2 tonight at 9:30pm.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 24, 2013