Feel Free to Fall Away
'Feel Free to Fall Away means that it's ok to let go, to look ahead, to follow a unique path,' says bassist/vocalist James Thomas, referring to the title of Kao Tao's new album. The path Kao Tao is following has led to the release of their new 11-song collection, and finds the collaboration of James, guitarist/ vocalist Rich Thomas, and drummer Michael Zinn in it's sixth year. Recorded in San Jose, California during 2001, Feel Free to Fall Away spans a diverse musical landscape that is filled with images of movement, travel, transition, and change. Brothers Rich and James alternate lead vocals from song to song with emotive and sometimes soaring melodies reminiscent of The Beatles, U2, and Peter Gabriel. Several of the songs on the album are narrative, telling stories about trips to Europe, father-daughter relationships, and falls from grace. Other songs are more personal, dealing with lost love, growing older, and the desire for transformation. Musically the trio switches from mid tempo alt-rock anthems to jam-band grooves and lush, jazzy slower numbers, while maintaining a consistent and modern sound that combines intricate rhythms with melodic guitar and bass parts. 'As individual musicians our influences are definitely varied,' says Rich, 'but the artists who connect the three of us and influence the band sound have all written great songs and created a sound that is immediately identifiable, like David Bowie, Radiohead, Steely Dan, The Cure, Japan, Pink Floyd, and Rush. We're definitely trying to capture the essence of their uniqueness.' Kao Tao's musical connections have been happening since 1996, when Rich and James (who have been writing and playing music together since they were children growing up in the UK) met California-native Mike at a coffee shop in the town of Los Gatos, about 50 miles south of San Francisco, and discovered he was an accomplished keyboard player and singer who really wanted to play the drums. Mike quickly found himself providing the backbeat to the newly formed trio and the band soon moved into a local rehearsal studio to start working. After gigging successfully around the Bay Area for several years, recording demos, and beginning to build an audience, the lads felt it was time to begin work on their first official album release. The recording sessions that followed included a mixture of songs already in their live repertoire and new songs written especially for the project. The resulting debut album has been released on the independent label Unafrank, which was formed by the band as an outlet for their recorded material. With the new album completed, Kao Tao is now turning it's focus back to the live shows that propelled the start of it's career. 'This band was formed on the energy and chemistry of playing together live,' says Mike. 'It's definitely the foundation of everything we do.' The live performances planned in support of Feel Free to Fall Away include an exciting electric show the band will take to clubs and larger venues and a low-volume, semi-acoustic show slated for smaller, more intimate spaces. 'The idea is to expand our audience as much as possible,' says James. 'It's been a great run so far, but we really feel like we're just getting started!'