The rowdy sound of Too Many Zooz started in a place that matched the band’s spirit (and volume) note for note: the subways of New York City
Leo Pellegrino, Matt Muirhead and David Parks started playing there in 2013, though in the last few years they’ve taken their sound aboveground, working with the likes of Beyonce and Jess Glynne, a popular artist from the United Kingdom.
The band defines its style as “brass house,” with band members layering the sounds of trumpet, drums and baritone saxophone so that the sound is less marching band and more pop.
They also have a tendency to bring together sci-fi elements to their album stories.
“Subway Gawdz,” their 2016 album, harkened back to their first days of playing underground, while “ZombiEP.,” their latest album, tells the story of a fictional band called The Submariners who play a show at ZombieFest, but soon realize the festival is home to a real-life zombie outbreak.
Other songs aren’t quite as fantastical, and instead, focus on what’s immediately around the band members. In one song, a car alarm starts things off and remains at the heart of the melody, recontextualizing a sound that’s familiar and if anything, usually annoying.
“Every time I heard a car alarm I just always heard a groove in my head so I just had the idea to make the car alarm and instrument. We just tried it out, it worked out and people liked it,” Pellegrino said.
While the Philadelphia-native plays baritone saxophone in the band, he started out in a different musical section.
“I really started clarinet because my dad played Italian polka growing up. I played clarinet to play with my dad and my mom had a clarinet so it kinda just worked out. Then the first saxophone player I heard was John Coltrane and I thought he was pretty cool so I got [a] sax,” Pellegrino said.
Later on, he studied at the Manhattan School of Music and after graduating in 2013, began playing in Too Many Zooz full time. While the band has had a successful run of tours and has collaborated with pop stars, one thing that’s been a struggle is recording music.
“It’s really hard for us to bottle up our sound or the experience for people to use later. It’s hard because what we do is so raw and organic and then whenever we record it doesn’t necessarily come out that way,” Pellegrino said.
To make it sound as organic as possible, the band members try to record themselves when they’re rehearsing and take the best ideas and sections from the recordings to take into their recording sessions.
Recently, they’ve worked on a new twist on their style, adding vocals.
“Mostly because our trumpet player really likes producing tracks that are more produced than our raw sound so they’re asking for vocals I guess. And because it’s cool to collaborate with vocalists and the majority of really popular music has vocals in it,” Pellegrino said.
At shows, like the one at The Hollow on Tuesday, the band likes to improvise to get that “raw sound.”
“We still mix it up a lot at our shows,” Pellegrino said.
Too Many Zooz will play The Hollow at 8 p.m. on Tuesday with Birocratic. Tickets are $17. For more info visit thehollowalbany.com.