The popular band from Brooklyn, Black Taxi, is coming to The Peacock Room in downtown Orlando this month.
ORLANDO – When Krisana Soponpong conjures up an image in his mind of a black taxi, his thoughts are dark, even a bit ominous.
“It made me think of a hearse,” he said. “A black taxi is like a one way trip. That’s funny, because the image is kind of dark, and we don’t play dark music.”
Soponpong is the bass player for the Brooklyn-based rock band named Black Taxi, but as Soponpong noted, the intent wasn’t to conjure up a Goth look, or to inspire images of death or the afterlife.
It was Ezra Huleatt, the band’s lead singer and keyboard player, who came up with the title – ironically, in a dream.
‘’I think it might have been something where he had a dream where someone talked to him about a black taxi,” Soponpong said. “Ezra wasn’t sure what that meant, but he mentioned the dream to us in a rehearsal session, and we went with it.”
Coming from New York City, Soponpong added, black taxis don’t necessarily have to make people think of something eerie.
“In Brooklyn, there are black cabs and black taxis, but you get in and tell them where to go, and you’re never sure if you’ll get there safely or not,” he laughed.
Frequently called “Brooklyn’s best kept secret,” Black Taxi brought their popular live show to Orlando’s The Social in January, and they’re coming back to The Peacock Room on May 13.
The band, which released their second album, “We Don’t Know Any Better,” in January, is made up of Huleatt , Soponpong, Bill Mayo (guitar/vocals/triangle), and Jason Holmes (drums/vocals). They’ve been performing in New York City for the past few years, building up a following, and now are spending more time on the open road, touring other states.
They just played seven SXSW showcases and are appearing in and receiving top billing at a number of festivals this spring and summer, including Albany’s MOVE Festival, Tampa’s Tropical Heatwave Festival, the Montauk Music Festival and Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival.
They plan to bring their grit-pop sound back to Orlando when they headline at The Peacock Room.
‘’Florida has been great,’’ Soponpong said. ‘’And it’s great weather, too, especially during the winter. We’re from New York, where it can get brutally cold in February, so we try to stay in the southern United States during winter. It’s just much more pleasant.’’
Soponpong said they dubbed their music as “grit pop’’ for a reason.
‘’It’s basically a name that we came up with to try to define ourselves in a unique way,’’ he said. ‘’Grit pop is something we’ve been working on since the band was formed. For me, it’s like the purity of the guitars, with a dance beat behind it. It kind of has a pop sensibility behind it, and it’s geared toward listenability. Three of us, Jason, Bill and Ezra, had backgrounds in Jazz. They all went to Jazz school, and I grew up playing in bands as a teenager. I think what served us really well is we like a lot of different types of music. Jason spent most of his time playing drums for percussion ensembles, Bill played Jazz in school, Ezra had a lot of different stuff he was interested in, and I liked a lot of 80s music and pop.’’
The band members met in New York, which turned out to be a great city for finding music venues to perform in.
“There’s a lot of bands in New York — and typically in Brooklyn as well,’’ he said. “I always get amazed on the train that goes from Manhattan to Brooklyn, you can see how many people have a guitar bag with them. A lot of musicians are going to New York to work on music. That made us work really hard at promoting our shows. The process can get really tough in the beginning, but we’re getting to the point where we’re selling out larger venues.’’
Soponpong also thinks live performances are going to be key to bands in the future, as more and more twentysomething consumers stop buying compact discs and instead downtown music – usually, just individual songs – onto their laptop or iPad.
“As the music industry is kind of in shambles right now, it’s trying to make a shift to figure out what’s next in the future, and the only way the artists have any control of that is to hit the road and get their act together and book a tour,’’ he said. “I think that’s never going to go away, and I think definitely what’s been really helpful for us was playing live shows and having a lot of fun. For me, it was giving permission to our audience to have a fun time, too. It’s always important to perform with genuine emotion, but for me, I definitely want to play music I feel good about and connect with people in a positive way. We’ve been really well known for our live shows. It’s been really grass roots. There’s a lot of different kinds of people who go to our shows. Some of them might be the cliche hipster, and some just got out of work and are wearing a suit. I think it’s really important to play to as many people as want to listen.”
The Peacock Room is at 1321 N. Mills Ave. in Orlando. To learn more about the show, call 407- 228-0048.

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