Duo mixes electronic music, juggling, drumming

Posted Jan. 07, 2010, at 7:15 p.m.

Jason and Matt Tardy never planned to be rock stars. In all truth, they never planned on being musicians in the first place. They were jugglers, actors, mimes, performers — but not musicians, though they both could play a number of instruments pretty well.

And yet, here they are, in 2010, with two albums under their belts, thousands of downloads online and a full arsenal of hi-tech electronic equipment that they use for their many concerts. Funny how things like that work out.

The Tardy brothers, born and raised in Turner, compose the audiovisual performance duo AudioBody, who will play a number of shows throughout the state this winter. To attempt to explain what AudioBody sounds and looks like in just one sentence is going to be rather difficult, so I’ll let Jason Tardy explain it for you.

“It’s kind of a juggling, comedic, electronic, drum-intensive performance piece, with a really cool light show,” said Tardy. “It’s evolved a lot over the years. Mike Miclon [a Maine comedian] said we’re like Blue Man Group meets the Smothers Brothers. I liked that. We’re two brothers doing crazy, funny, visual stuff.”

Though the Tardy brothers have been performing together at the Oddfellow Theater in Buckfield and the Celebration Barn in South Paris since both were kids, the impetus for AudioBody came in the early part of the last decade. The pair was using the popular electronic music of the time to accompany their juggling performances. They liked the combination of upbeat, fun music with performance so much that they decided to try their hand at making their own electronic music, created digitally.

“It was initially just a way to add more to our juggling show,” said Jason Tardy. “Eventually, at our shows, people would come to us and say, ‘Wow, you guys are great musicians, too. Where can we get your album?’ And we didn’t have an album at all. Matt really hastily put one together called ‘Too Loud,’ and put it on CD Baby. After a while, it was the number one album in the country.”

The Tardy brothers’ collaboration with fellow Celebration Barn alumnus EepyBird, creators of the legendary Mentos and Diet Coke YouTube videos, further propelled them into fame. It was at that point that Matt and Jason knew they had to up their game. They decided to merge their juggling show with their newfound musical fame — and to invest in some seriously funky musical equipment. The current incarnation of AudioBody was born.

“We created this 17-foot-wide drum set we call the Spine, which we control with drum sticks that act as both sticks and juggling clubs,” said Jason Tardy. “We needed something big enough that we could both play it at the same time.”

In addition to their huge electronic drum set, the Tardy brothers wear jumpsuits outfitted with acoustic drum triggers. The pair play both drum set and jumpsuits live, when they make their fun, infectious, sometimes hypnotic music — while juggling, dancing and wisecracking the whole time.

“For us, it’s about having the whole experience — the humor, the performance, the music and the visuals,” said Tardy. “There isn’t one part of the entire show that we didn’t, in some way, make, alter or build in some way. It’s very homegrown.”

AudioBody is working on releasing a third album, and are perfecting their new light show, which involves LED lighting, black lights and intelligent lights. When they play a show, it takes up to a whole day for them to set up and take down — a 17-foot drum set isn’t exactly an easy thing to cart around.

And while their albums are a delight to listen to, it’s the live show that really brings the full AudioBody experience. Judging from the many YouTube videos up at www.youtube.com/audiobody, it’s one heck of an entertaining show.

AudioBody will perform Jan. 15 at Falmouth High School, Jan. 23 at the Boothbay Opera House, Feb. 6 at the Camden Opera House, and March 20 at the Bangor Opera House. For more information, visit www.audiobody.com.

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