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Tank and the Bangas

Tank and the Bangas

C.G. Smith

Jan 5, 2023

Bangin' Out the Hits

In the fall of 2015, my wife and I had been living in New Orleans for nearly six months. A co-worker had been talking up this band to me for a while, so we made the trek across town to The Maple Leaf bar on Oak St. to catch the show. The band was New Orleans’ own Tank and the Bangas. Their high-energy, infectious performance and wonderfully arranged music changed our idea of what a local band could be. From that point on we were fans and made it out to every Tank and the Bangas performance we could. These days the ticket prices are a little more expensive than in those earlier days, the stages are usually much bigger, and their music has evolved a bit from those early club performances, but the group is still just as grounded as they ever have been.

credit: Jacob Walker

I had the good fortune to be able to sit down with the group at the Uptown New Orleans restaurant Molly’s Rise and Shine after business hours and talk about their beginnings, their evolution over the years, and what the future holds for the now twice Grammy-nominated band.

MaM: First off, I want to thank y’all so much for being here. I also wanted to thank Lauren and Mason of Molly’s Rise and Shine for letting us use this unique space. We are very grateful. Is this the first time you’ve been here?

Tank: Yes.

Norman: Yeah, I’ve never been here before.

MaM: The chicken biscuit is fire.

Tank: That’s good to know. (playfully) What? You think we just like chicken or something?

Albert: What about the vegan options?

Tank: What? You think we’re vegan or somethin’?

Norman: The chickens were vegan. They only fed them grain.


MaM: Your hard work has led to so much success. It really shows – how much you all enjoy performing for an audience. How did y’all deal with the pandemic? Not being able to tour, did it help or hurt the band? I know "Friend Goals" came out of it, but overall, with the pandemic, how did it affect you?

Tank: I think both, right? The only hurting I would say is because it’s hard to get back into the specific rhythm of touring. The world still is a bit scared, so the numbers aren’t exactly the same as they were pre-Covid. I would say that is the only hurting, but the helping, I mean, we got "Friend Goals." It’s such a good little EP. We had fun making it. Before that we were on tour so much. It was a nice little break at the perfect time. We needed it. We was [sic] like, ‘Oh my gosh, people cook regular food and sleep up in their regular beds, and go for regular walks?’

Norman: After being off schedule for like weeks, and weeks, and weeks, it was like every day at eleven o’clock, ‘What y’all doin’? Y’all still up?’ Yeah, we wide awake, doin’ nothin’.

Tank: I watched Paternity Court a lot. I ate a lot of crawfish.

Norman: I really got to sit with myself. I was like, ‘Wow, this is how I am? Okay, gotta change some stuff.’ Some of it’s cool, but I got to know me a little bit during Covid.

Albert: Oh yeah.

Tank: Yeah, we all had those little moments. You know I was cool while we was [sic] on break, then the next shit came around and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, what’s goin’ on with the schedule? Wait a minute now, wait a minute! What you mean we are cancelling again?' ‘Cause you know, of course, we had to survive. We thought of creative ways to do it. We had a lot of little shows with virtual performances, which is cool and lame all at the same time. (imitates interacting with a virtual crowd) ‘Throw your hands up!’

Albert: Only the ends of songs are lame because you finish with a big finish and there’s just crickets.

Tank: And there’s nothin’. Just a bunch of hearts and thumbs up and, ‘Love you guys!’

Norman: But we appreciated such silent love!

Albert: You just hear hard breathing like ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestants.

Tank: (imitates hard breathing at the end of a performance) ‘Thank y’all, thank y’all!!’

Norman: It means y’all were sittin’ there watchin’ this happen, so it was definitely appreciated for real.

The band used to have the occasional parties in the backyard of Tank’s Auntie Tee Tee’s house in the Lower 9th Ward back before their breakthrough with NPR’s Tiny Desk concert.

MaM: The backyard parties at the Yum Yum were so much fun. My wife and I went to at least two or three of them. Any plans to do anything like that in the future, or is that just off the table now?

credit: Shambala Festival 2022

Tank: Oh, no. We definitely want to do that in the future. We miss it. Every time we go in the backyard, we’re like, ‘We gotta get one of these goin’ again.’ We just never know when Auntie’s gonna feel like doing it, honestly! We all have to be in the mood at the same time, so that lets you know how beautiful – how everything had to be lined up so perfectly and feel like doing one. It takes a lot of work.

Albert: Big, big picture though, Norm and Ta talk a lot about, ‘What if we did a festival? What if there was [some]thing that was a hub, a Bangaville thing? The idea of community … especially performance community is always going around.

Norman: Bangafest.

Tank: Bangafest sounds dope.

MaM: I’d go!

Tank: I know you would!

Norman: We don’t even have to travel for that!

MaM: From Tank’s run with SNO, to those early open mics, to playing major festivals on the biggest stages in the world, can you tell us about some of your best and not so great moments?

Tank: Whoa, mmm. Let me see ... best definitely was um, .... all the time! We have a good time! The best memorable moments: Coachella, Jimmy Fallon, The Apollo, Glastonbury was beautiful.

Norman: Yo, I got a bad one. We were in Germany, and we didn’t have our luggage ...

Josh: We didn’t have our clothes!

Norman: We had to perform in our pajamas.

Tank: We was [sic] in a barn.

Norman: The gear was all wrong. I had a Motif instead of a Cronos. Oh man, that was a day.

Tank: Yeah, that was a crazy one.

Norman: We were still in another country playing music, doing something we love.

[Tank talking about the mural where we did the photo shoot:]

Tank: That [mural] was painted by an artist, not just done online?

MaM: Yeah, hand painted for the restaurant by an artist named Ken Cox.

Albert: The process of breakfast on acid.

Tank: That’s some crazy color right there.

Albert: The cost of your eggs.

MaM: Your version of “What the World Needs Now,” I was blown away by it when it first came out and I just heard it again on shuffle the other day. How did that track come about? Any stories from that recording?

Tank: It was supposed to be bigger, something different than it was.

Josh: It was on some heal-the-world, Quincy Jones-type stuff. It was a lot of fun to be able to call friends, people we cared about, and family members as well to help us create that entire New Orleans ordeal. It was such a great thing to be a part of and find all those voices in the right spots.

Norman: It came out beautiful.

Josh: And we had to do it in like one day or something!

Albert: We had people come in on schedules, that had to come in for 45 minutes. Oh, we gotta stop and do this trumpet part! Okay, get outta’ here, come on! Thank you, man! Alright, see ya!”

Josh: David Shaw came in so late at night.

Tank: I love David on that. I just wish we would have [sic] got him recorded singing on it. I loved him on it. I loved everybody on it. Especially since we were just getting people that we wouldn’t even normally day to day work with, but we knew in the community. I loved what everybody added to it. It was perfect. Josh’s nephew, my niece--we were crying when Sunny was doing her poem and the children was [sic] singing. I think that was the last time we was [sic] all together. It was just so special. It really was what the world needs now.

MaM: For the time we were all in, it was perfect.

Tank: I know. It really felt awesome.

Josh: That was a fire question. No one ever asks that.

MaM: You’ve already worked on projects with some amazing artists. Who are some of your dream collaborators, past or present?

Tank: Present – we’ve done with Layla, that was a dream for sure. Alex Isley is a dream, and Robert Glasper ... people that we just put out there that we can’t believe that we was [sic] able to make music with later on.

Josh: That Blue Note whole thing was fire.

Tank: Blue Note was amazing.

Josh: That’s a whole list of people that was special.

Tank: Juno is a future collaborator for sure. Kendrick Lamar and Stevie Wonder.

credit: Jacob Walker

Norman: Amahd Jamal, I’m waiting on that.

Albert: Can we go to the past? Do they have to be living? Roy Hargrove, you know he passed, but man, that’s music that I grew up with and really stuff that shaped me and made me seek out sounds like this band.

Norman: Same, yo. You talkin’ ‘bout ‘Like Water for Chocolate,' that’s Roy. That’s a Common album that D’Angelo, Roy, Questlove, all of them did, RH Factor. All that shit.

Albert: The ‘Straight Ahead’ album. His Cuban album? He’s so good.

Josh: All right – Kirk Franklin. Take that. I wanna work with him.

Norman: Listen, I really want to work with Warryn Campbell. If you [sic] out there, [if] you hear this, somebody send it to him. If you know him, if he’s your cousin, tell him Tank and the Bangas want to work with him. I ain’t jokin’.

Tank: For some reason I don’t feel like that’s very far away, even though we don’t know him. I feel like it’s a degree of separation.

MaM: I know faith and family are important to you. With all the touring and recording y’all have been doing, how hard is it for you to find time away from the band for family, etc.? Is it easier to get that time now that you’ve had some success?

Norman: I try to take some intentional time to focus on the family.

MaM: Wasn’t it in your rider that you had Sundays off so you could play at church?

Norman: That was back when I was playing at church more, but that isn’t really my focus anymore. Kids though? Got ballet comin’ up, art class comin’ up, we skatin’ … tryin’ to keep them out the Matrix, man. I’m tryin’ to give some real people time, you know what I mean? I didn’t get a lot of people-time growin’ up, so I figured out a lot on my own. I don’t want them to have to do that. Aside from that, God is everything; church ain’t.

credit: Jacob Walker

MaM: What are some of your favorite things about being a ‘Banga’?

Josh: Easy. The best part about it is it’s me. I don’t have to be nothin’ else or put on to be nothin’ because it’s literally … me. Just like she don’t [sic] really gotta do nothin’ [sic] to be Tank, that’s just who she is as a person. I really like watching how other people interpret what a Banga is to them. I really enjoy that part, but I don’t know; I just be myself. Being a Banga is just kinda who we are as us.

Albert: I think the best part of being a Banga is getting to make and participate in making, for me, the music you dreamed of making as a child.

Josh: Big facts.

Norman: I realized over the years [that] we are therapists, we are healers. We bring in vibrations, which water responds to, and 75% of that is standing in the audience. When we was [sic] first starting, people would come to the shows over and over and I was like, ‘What the hell? What is wrong with these people? We just seen you last week! This is the same show, goofy; what you doin’?’

Tank: It is not the same show though, never!

Josh: It’s not the same show though.

MaM: My wife and I were one of those crazy people at every show we could get to, especially that 2015 - 2018 time period. We were obsessed. “Themeparks” was one of our wedding songs.

Tank: That’s sweet!

Norman: Didn’t we write that on Golden Drive in Chalmette?

Tank: I think so.

Norman: We wrote that in my living room!

Tank: I had a relationship, and I just wanted to talk about all of the good parts of it, and the fun parts of it, you know? That’s what it was for. Some people really are just muses.

MaM: Josh, as musical director, what has changed as far as how you’re presenting those older songs these days?

Josh: Boredom. It’s ten years of playing a certain song and you want to try it different. She (Tank) really gets creative at moments, and she can get bored too, so two people who can get very whimsical and creative and want to change things on the fly.

credit: Jacob Walker

Norman: At the last minute.

Josh: I just said on the fly!

Tank: Aren’t you in my brain? Aren’t you in my spirit?

Josh: Even in those times it’s a lot of fun. I think a lot of times we’re really just trying out different things because we get to. We can. We have the capability. The truth is, the more we push ourselves to do more stuff, the better we get at it.

Norman: We’re free. The reality is the melodies fall out the sky sometimes; we just catch ‘em. We sat in rehearsals, and we had to take a little break and wrote like 3 songs in 6 minutes the other day. Stuff just happens. We stay open.

Tank: Growth is real. Ain’t [sic] nobody in this band in their fresh beginning 20’s anymore. We don’t even jump up and down as much as we used to.


MaM: I remember a show y’all did at the Ogden when you broke it all down. I heard your songs presented in a whole different light.

Tank: We love to calm it down. People don’t think that we know how to calm it down because we’re such a big sound, but it’s our most favorite thing to do—at least it’s definitely mine. You hear the lyrics, you hear the music, the intention. It’s quiet, it’s soft, it’s beautiful, it’s heard, it’s felt. I love those type of shows. That’s how we started out. That’s why Tiny Desk was really nothing for us. I was nervous, but as far as calming it down, it’s nothing for us.

Norman: I didn’t know nothing [sic] about it (Tiny Desk). All I saw was T-Pain do it with a keyboard player. I thought, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be easy.’ I didn’t grow up listening to NPR. I was like, ‘Cool, it’s an open mic; that’s how we started.’

MaM: Josh, as musical director, how do you decide – do you just naturally stretch your legs on a song, or do you say here, we’re gonna arrange it this way?

Josh: A little bit of both. Sometimes we stretch out naturally, sometimes I say let’s try this. We’ll try stuff in rehearsal to see if it sticks. If it don’t [sic], we’ll leave it alone, if it do [sic], we’ll push it.”

MaM: You ever just throw shit at them live?

Josh: Yep, yeah, they good [sic] enough to handle that. They superbad. The fun part is, if we fall on our face, we’re good enough to carry ourselves so nobody even knows it happened. We’re creating a chord progression as we go sometimes. We’re having fun.

Tank: Their ears are so crazy. Sometimes they even hear what I don’t hear.

Josh: I think that part makes it very easy for us to be able to ‘float.’

Norman: Growing up in church too, you know, anybody [can] get up and sing in any key, talking about praise and testimony ceremony ...

Josh: Most of the time, it’s the wrong key!

Norman: ... If you doing [sic] it right and they change key and you don’t follow them, then it’s your fault. If they start in the right key, you learn to move with them, you learn to just flow. Yeah, church got me ready for it.”

MaM: Do you guys approach performances today any differently than you did in those early days?

credit: Ruthie Herman, WOUB

Albert: Carefully. From behind.


Norman: Prayerfully. We always pray; we always rehearse.

Tank: It feels more intentional now, to me, if anything. More mature. You want to get it right, you know? It just feels a little more intentional, but I still have my moments of freedom that I do love. You know, Josh tries to reel it in a lot, which is a good and a bad thing to me. You know, like, let me be who I am, [and he’ll be] like, ‘Don’t stay there too long!’ I’m like, ‘Shut up!’


The band recently performed its very first residency at the famous Blue Note venue in New York City in November of 2022.

MaM: How was Blue Note?

Josh: It was amazing.

Norman: It was an honor to be in that room. The artists that we had come and join us—Keyon Harrold, Isaiah Sharkey … Norah Jones.

Josh: Man, the type of people that came through, not even just the artists.

Norman: Yeah, the people that came through just to kick it with us, the stage was so dope.

Josh: Yeah, all of that was just wild.

Norman: Y’all thought enough about us to come through; thank you.

MaM: I have to ask this question, Tank, since my dad is such a huge Norah Jones fan: How did you become friends with Norah?

Tank: It’s so crazy. All of it was kind of magical, even things I didn’t even know until a couple of years ago … how things was [sic] working out for us to meet. Jelly (singer Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph) was doing a session with her husband, and she invited him to the show (at One-Eyed Jacks). I don’t know if she knew that Norah was his wife or not. They ended up going to the show, Norah was pregnant, and she was hearing me do all these little crazy voices. Someone told me that she was in the house. Then she text [sic] me one morning when I was at Waffle House and she wanted me to do a video with her, a really silly song. Of course, I said yes. I didn’t know what it was about. It was a silly song. It was really silly about men who don’t think that women take a shit.

L to R: C.G. Smith with Albert, Tank, Josh, and Norman

MaM: I still remember how cool it was when she came out during your second performance of your Alice in Wonderland at the Music Box here in town.

Tank: Mmmmmm, the purple piano. It was really special. Anybody that was a part of those shows just knows it was so special. It takes a lot to do a Music Box. Hats off to the people who do it and run it. It’s hard to explain, too, when people ask what it is.

Josh: Shout out to Danny Elfman, because he sure helped with the ideas in that space too, like the orchestra.

MaM: It’s just such a cool space.

Tank: Yeah, it’s crazy. Hard to explain. You be [sic] like, ‘It’s a musical space where they use pieces, materials of old houses and they make instruments. You can’t explain it. You have to go there; it’s an experience.

MaM: So, the hardest question for artists to answer, how do you describe the Tank-and-the-Bangas sound?

Tank: (repeats) You have to go there; it’s an experience.

Norman: (repeating an answer Albert came up with before) It’s genre-fluid.

Josh: It’s a struggle to explain it to ourselves, but according to the Grammys, it’s one of those ‘progressive R&B albums.’


Tank: That’s funny! They did the best they could to categorize us. I think just the fact that you’re Black, they already want to put R&B on you. They like [sic], ‘Well, it ain’t [sic] just that, so let’s go ahead and put it in progressive.’ I don’t mind, especially with this album. It’s where it needs to be at [sic] with this album, that’s cool. I love it, I’m happy to be nominated.

Josh: I mean, [for] some artists it’s easy and [for other] artists it’s very, very hard to do.

Tank: You can describe the song which is at hand, but to put them all in a thing? To literally say that the same band that made ‘Outside’ made ‘Heavy,’ or the same band that made ‘Heavy’ made ‘Brady’s,’ or the same band that made ‘Brady’s’ made ‘Eggs Over Easy,’ or ‘Eggs Over Easy’ - that’s the same band that made ‘Easy Goes It,’ or ‘Anxiety.’ ‘Mr. Lion’? That same girl, she did ‘Dope Girl Magic.’ So, it’s really hard. It’s whatever we was [sic] feeling at the time.

Josh: This entire same band has done a lot of these songs with an orchestra, so maybe they’re a classical band.

Tank: It’s all over the place.

MaM: I always loved “Drummers." That’s a different kind of song.

Tank: We love that one. That one never got recorded and it has so much more to it, too. It’s really cool.

MaM: Were there any moments where you were working on, writing a song, and just astonished yourselves, like, “This is gonna be good!?”

Josh: ‘Ants.’

Tank: ‘Stolen Fruit.’

Norman: ‘Rhythm of Life.’

Albert: ‘Stolen Fruit,’ and ‘Black Folk.’

Tank: Yeah, anybody comin’ in the studio, you need to hear this! This is so special.

Albert: So much so, that it slowed down progress. Like any new visitor, after we had gotten like a rough for ‘Stolen Fruit,’ anybody came in, Tank would be like, ‘Turn down the lights.’

Tank: Turn down the lights, light a candle, and play this for them.

Norman: (imitating Tank) ‘Shhhh. (dramatic pause) Play that one.’

Albert: It was like a whole afternoon of that, it was great. Then we did ‘Black Folk' and [it] was, like, a live take. A bunch of us were playing in the room, and the take you hear from Tank, that’s just her on a 58 (Shure 58 live microphone). Everybody was playing in the same room. We tried to do the vocals in isolation, tried to do other takes, but it just didn’t have that … it didn’t have that thing. Man, that was a magical moment. I remember when we were playing that and I was like, ‘This is great!’

Norman: We should do an unplanned live album. Just press record and start playing.

Albert: Directly to vinyl. You can do that. You can press it directly to vinyl.

Tank: I’ve done that. I did that with ‘Eggs Over Easy.’ It was a freestyle.

MaM: So, we are an entertainment magazine. What are some shows y’all are watching lately?

Tank: I feel like we’re never watching the same thing. We talk about it more when we’re on the road, ‘What are you watchin’ right now?’ Albert knows that I have to eat and watch somethin’ from Netflix.

Norman: I know how to make this cool: Say one show you think the other person is watching right now.

Tank: (to Norman) Oh lord, a documentary? A Christmas show?

Norman: I’m watchin’ the Nature Channel.

Josh: (to Tank) Wednesday?

Albert: (to Josh) Anime, or, I don’t know, big, high-budget crime, like action-y?

Josh: You know what? You’re kind of in the space, ‘cause I saw something like that. Knives Out on Netflix; the [sequel just] came out.

Tank: (to Albert) You watchin’ some type of cartoon in the morning with your girlfriend.

Albert: I’ve been watching season 6 of Rick and Morty and it’s stellar. It’s a return to form. It’s some of the best stuff they’ve had going on over the past few seasons. Highly recommended.

Josh: (to Tank) Just say Wednesday already and get it over with.

Tank: We ain’t done with Wednesday, so no.

Norman: 432 playlist on Spotify. 432 hertz. Yo, why when I play it on the speaker, I can actually feel the highs, the lows, and the mids. It’s in your chakras. It’s like we really do resonate at that frequency or somethin’ because you can feel it through the speakers. I don’t get it.

Tank: 432 Hertz? That’s the playlist?

Norman: Do that, then type playlist. They got a bunch of different genres. Get ya [sic] chakras right.

Josh: I be [sic] watchin’ Forged in Fire. I had to think about what I’ve been watching. I be [sic] watchin’ people making beaucoup swords and all that stuff.

Norman: Then they try to see which one’s stronger.

Josh: Then they be [sic] choppin’ beaucoup stuff with it. Man, these cats are wild.

MaM: They make a Hattori Hanzo blade?

Josh: They probably have done one at this point, but they be [sic] doin’ all kinds of fantasy weapons as well.

Norman: Based on historic, like the way they would build them at this time or that time in history.

MaM: What are some creature comforts on tour, anything that connects you with back home?

Albert: A nice bowl of ramen.

Norman: Coffee and good greenery, I’m good to go. Facetime with the baby.

Tank: My phone so I can watch TV.

Albert: An eye mask.

Tank: Headphones. Gotta have them headphones. Gotta zone inside them headphones.

credit: Jacob Walker

Norman: Drum machine, that MPC one.

Josh: I’ve been without my phone on a whole tour before. I lost my phone, like, the top of the tour, and I didn’t have my phone for, like, six weeks. It was weird as hell.

Norman: That’s gotta feel good! You ever leave your phone at home and be way across town and be like, ‘Oh well.’ That shit feels so good.

Josh: I was on the other side of the world. It was not the same.

Tank: First of all, I would never do it because where the hell ... how am I gonna get home? I need that GPS. Momma gonna call me, you know what I’m sayin’? Now you need to stay in touch, AND I gotta listen to the regular radio? Oh no, I need to plug in, so I got my own radio.

Norman: Turn that radio off and listen to the radio in your head.

Tank: That’s too much [sic] thoughts!

Josh: Being over there, there was no radio, and there was barely television. I wanna play drums. I hope they don’t have a bad drum set with some bad cymbals. That is a real horrible thing.

Tank: That was not a good answer though; he’s talkin’ about something that you don’t feel at home with(out). You hit drums every day.

Josh: I’m telling you, no, no, no, on TOUR.

Tank: Josh needs some wings with barbeque sauce.

Josh: No, listen, wait ...

Norman: You gotta hear this man out about them [sic] drums. Because if those drums ain’t [sic] Yamaha special just like Josh needs ...


Tank: We about to get a DIVA!

Josh: Look at this, you see this? (shows me the palms of his hands) This happened to my hands years ago, playing the wrong kit with the wrong sticks. My entire hand turned purple, and I couldn’t close it. So, I was playing drums like this, (Josh shows me half-open hands, as if he is delicately holding sticks with his fingers) but my hands were really like ...

Norman: I wish y’all could see through this mic.


Josh: (wrapping up his defense of saying drums are a comfort on tour) A good drum set, an amazing drum set, and amazing cymbals, and amazing sticks. I can make tour with that and good vibes.

Tank and the rest of the group continue having fun teasing Josh. Albert begins calling out to Tavia, "Ta!  Ta!" to have her stop the insanity.

Albert: (to me, as the hilarity wanes, feeling sympathy for me having to try and make sense of all the talking over each other) You just write this out, right? You transcribe this, right? A lot of it will be just asterisks - inaudible, asterisks - inaudible.

MaM: Ok, Tavia says ten minutes left. I gotta get to the Grammy nod. Grammy nod number two. I’m sure that first one was an incredible experience. Tank, are you as nervous? Will you have a speech ready this time if you win?

Tank: I think we could write a speech. I’m not as nervous this time.

Norman: You gonna write it? I’m gonna wing it.

Albert: The best things in life are wung [sic].

Tank: Then it goes, (imitates the music cue to get off stage) [to] get us off that stage.

Albert: There’s four of us! That’s bullshit! We EACH get the allotted time!

Josh: It’s the allotted time times four.

Tank: Yeah, you use your privilege, see how far that gets you!

Norman: They will never call us back!

Tank: Albert said, ‘Excuse me, white man speaking! That’s not fair.’

Albert: Hey, if La La Land can take an Oscar, we can do this.

Josh: Boy, you stupid!

Tank: It’s exciting, definitely less nervous-y. It’s more exciting for sure, because [the] first time is very cool, but this time, it’s for the work, so that just feels just really dope.

Josh: The entire body of work. [The first Grammy nomination] was us being really good coming out to them. That’s awesome, but this one is very awesome because it’s for everything that we’ve put in.

Norman: Real talk, real talk.

Tank: I would really like to win it.

credit: Jamelle Tate, courtesy of the artist

Josh: Not just one song, not one video; it’s the entire thing.

Norman: The first one, all the other artists had radio hits. We didn’t have any hits on the radio, and they still had to say our name. Y’all had to put songs on the radio to win.

Tank: You know how you say, ‘Since you guys made it,’ ‘Since your big success,’ ‘Since your breakout,’ you know how you keep saying that? We don’t feel that way. Y’all don’t feel that way, right (Tank asks the Bangas)? Like we’re some breakout stars, like we’re up there?

Norman and Josh: No!

Albert: Oh God, no.

Josh: I feel like we’re new to somebody every day. I feel like because we’re new to at least one new person every day, that’s eventually gonna happen.

MaM: So since she got y’all on the clock, is Tavia the special sauce for this whole thing?

Josh: Facts.

Albert: Oh yeah.

Josh: She’s working right now. If you look right there, you can see her answering emails as we speak.

Norman: We wouldn’t have gotten Tiny Desk without Ta, ‘Think Tank’ would have never happened without Ta, ‘RandoMe’ would have never happened without Ta ... Coachella, none of that.

Tank: (looks to Tavia) Ta, I’ve been doing this.

Norman: Shit, you was [sic] on the sofa. She picked you up off the sofa.

Tank: Who was on the sofa?

Norman: Tank Ball. That’s why I say you better understand!

Tank: Boy, I’ve been doing this … My friend know [sic] she met me while I was on my journey.

Norman: Ta said, ‘Come on, get in the studio, girl; you want to do a CD, come on.’

Tavia: I nurtured her journey. I think both Tank and I may have tapped into something that was deeper for both of us that we didn’t know was there. Granted, I met her doing poetry, which is what she wanted to do. She wanted to travel with her poetry book. She did not want to do a poetry show unless she had an album. Gus Bennett was put in my ear and he said, ‘I’m only telling you that I did a spot with Raj Smoove.’ I don’t know why Gus thought that I was the person.

Tank: I don’t know why anybody thought you was [sic] the person to tell!

Tavia: I know!

Tank: No, I mean in my own self.

Norman: Because you was [sic]!

Tavia: One of Tank’s mentors pulled me to the side, spoke to me, and said I should really pursue this. They saw something in us that we didn’t see ourselves. We both just went full-fledged into it. When I met Tank, she had just quit her job and I was working two jobs and going to school. I thought I was really gonna be in an office job at the USDA or something. Other people were trying to get Tank to do things, but they were trying to get her to do what they wanted her to do, and not what she wanted to do. I was like, 'Let’s do what you doin’. I’m down for the poetry, like, let’s make this poetry album.' Everybody else was tryin’ to get her to do jazz songs and stuff, but she wasn’t feelin’ that.”

credit: Erika Goldring/Getty Images


MaM: Y’all been together what, a decade now?

Tank: Over a decade.

Tavia: Twelve years with Tank and the Bangas, 13 years of friendship between me and Tank.

MaM: So much great music. What’s the future hold?

Josh: I don’t know – more stuff. Whole [sic] lot more stuff.

Tank: We would love to get our book together.

Norman: It’s comin’.

Tank: We want to create an affirmation book for adults like us, and kids, and teenagers, because we have a lot of quotes that we live by and that we share with each other. We would love to do that. We would love to get more into big soundtracks for great movies; we’ve been offered those opportunities before. The world actually believes that we put on one of the best shows in America, [so to] have that stage and those things offered to us to make it what it’s supposed to be. Be more disciplined, more consistent. Just falling in love every day with what we doing. It’s not always easy, especially for myself. Definitely this year I’m going to make some resolutions, which I haven’t done in a while, honestly.

Norman: Will you make a resolution? Whoop whoop!

Tank: I feel made fun of. I thought this was a safe space.

Norman: First of all, it’s a safe space. That was Kirk Franklin. I don’t know if you don’t know.”


Tank: Tavia, I’m not feeling safe. Let’s go.

Norman: You need to self-care more. Your pants say self-care. If you want some self-care pants, they on

Tank: Oh my lord.

Norman: ... and they on Tank right now!

Albert: More good music, Tank and the Bangas 2022 and beyond – for the kids! Whoooo!”

For more on information on the outstanding talent that is Tank and the Bangas, their albums, their shows, and all, well, all things bangin', visit them online at

*Cover photo from taken from artist website.

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