You need Airpushers. From the name alone you know this group is pushing something so elemental, you can’t live without it.
What they’re pushing is their essential debut Themes for the Ordinarily Strange—a landmark album that invites every genre to the party: hip-hop, jazz, swing, reggae and funk. Grouped up, they grind and slow dance, two-step and bounce. Their sound is shockingly new but still familiar. After all, Airpushers, Printz Board and Tim Izo Orindgreff, are two of the mastermind musicians who craft the sonic framework of the Black Eyed Peas.
Their contributions have helped the Black Eyed Peas sell 7.5 million albums, win 2 Grammy Awards and garner 3 Billboard topping singles (and counting). In fact, Printz co-wrote the Peas’ trio of biggest hits “My Humps,” “Where Is the Love?” and “Don’t Phunk with My Heart.”
In the midst of contributing to the Black Eyed Peas’ success and the success of other musical superstars like Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Dr. Dre, Macy Gray (and many more), Airpushers are releasing their own break out music. With Themes for the Ordinarily Strange, the duo is creating the fundamental sounds for us, as Tim says, “to work to, live to.”
Themes for the Ordinarily Strange is a rare hybrid of an album, combining a select group of guest vocalists along with searing instrumental tracks. Next-comer MoZella’s hauntingly angelic voice tussles between spoken word and song on “Music Fight.” “Hold the Onions” bridges the classic stylings of legendary Motown machine songwriter Lamont Dozier with an impulsive beatscape. “Superfriends” pairs one of Printz’s “favorite artists of all time,” soul singer Sy Smith, over heroic horns. The rousing “Push That Air” is all balls and bounce.
On the instrumentals, Tim and Printz let the music speak for itself. On “Pollo Masala Disco Express” the opening flurry of clarinets and horns are as tasty as the track itself; go ahead…take a bite. “Who Goes to Hooters on Easter” is as naughty and sanctified as it sounds. On “Birds of Terror,” a breathy, but adhesive voice warns you to “be extra careful,” but the eerie, ethereal soundscape subversively pulls you deeper into its laidback layers.
At the close of the album, you’re almost exhausted by Tim and Printz’s resourcefulness. To craft their canvas of moods, Airpushers use any and all instruments at their disposal — baritone saxophones, flutes, clarinets, electric guitar and even the didgeridoo. They describe the songs has having “anthem vibes,” and there’s one for every disposition. With every mood represented, from the frenetic to the sedate, Airpushers make each track starkly different but entirely relatable. “I think it is a very common thing for ordinary people to have their own theme songs in their heads,” Tim says.
In a time when people wonder where is the love in today’s music, for Airpushers, Themes for the Ordinarily Strange is a project of pure passion. Love takes time, so this opus is the result of over two years of caressing sounds and romancing rhythms. Printz says, “Most of these songs were pieced together from hotel rooms to home studios to the first hours of a major session when everyone was late, you name it.” “We have become masters of guerilla commando recording,” Tim laughs.
Themes for the Ordinarily Strange has the eloquence you only hear when musical soul mates collaborate. Tim remarks, “From the day Printz and I met, we had some spooky unspoken bond as musicians and friends.”
Before the love of the music, it was luck that brought Tim and Printz together in San Diego 10 years ago. Tim was ready to put his burgeoning music career on pause and move to Kansas City to return to school and teach, when he got word that a local musician named Printz was looking for a sax player for his band Gravy. “Printz played a couple of things and I would play them back verbatim. Same feel, same everything. Scary,” Tim remembers. “It was as if we had played together before like we were coming from the same place.”
It was all Gravy until Tim and Printz linked up with the Black Eyed Peas and their band Bucky Johnson in 1997. Printz became music director, playing trumpet, bass and accordion, arranging the band’s songs and even managing lighting and the stage for the live shows. Tim joined as a Prince-esque musician who handles the saxophone, flute, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, percussion, MPC, and keyboards with equal ease. Nothing is outside of Tim’s range. If it is not there, he will make it. It is Tim who invents the more imaginative, ethereal sounds and samples distinctively associated with the BEP.
As a duo, Airpushers are indeed ordinarily strange. Printz describes himself as a fast talking, risk taker who craves the limelight (and always orders his food to go). On the other hand, the newly married Tim is more measured and modest (and prefers to cook his own food).
Airpushers are indeed the best of both worlds: they have freshness of a new group with the grind of veterans. And on their grind, Airpushers are to the Black Eyed Peas what Parliament was to George Clinton; what the Bar-Kays were to Isaac Hayes; what Stuart Matthewman and Sweetback are to Sade. “When we do stuff, when we do our records, when we perform, when we do everything, it’s as one unit,” Printz clarifies. With the Black Eyed Peas, Tim and Printz have been touring and recording non-stop for the past nine years. Soon, Airpushers will flow off your tongue as easily as the Black Eyed Peas.
Yes, we all need Airpushers, because after all, change is inevitable and necessary. “If we end up creating some sort of musical revolution that would be amazing. I wouldn’t put it past us,” Printz confidently predicts. And you won’t put it pass them either.