This past summer, Turkuaz was set to hit the road with former Talking Heads members Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew as Remain in Light. Well, much like every other major tour, that one was canceled and the collaboration was supposedly put on hold. On Tuesday, however, the ensemble released their first collaborative single, entitled “Ophidiophobia”.
Turkuaz with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew will perform the song live for the first time as part of Bonnaroo‘s Virtual ROO-ALITY livestream this coming weekend. The tour was supposed to feature a full performance of Talking Heads’ 1980 album Remain in Light, in addition to original Turkuaz material at each show.
“Ophidiophobia” kicks off with an instant Talking Heads feel from the rhythm as the song also takes on a much more guitar-oriented tone than most Turkuaz music. As the lyrics fall in with a David Byrne-like cadence, the song is at first reminiscent of “Crosseyed and Painless” (found on Remain in Light). Soon enough, however, “Ophidiophobia” develops a classic Turkuaz feel, as the back-and-forth between frontman Dave Brandwein and backup singers Sammi Garett and Shira Elias breeds familiarity.
“We had always planned on doing a little bit of Turkuaz material in the upcoming ‘Remain in Light’ tour with Adrian Belew and Jerry Harrison,” Brandwein said. “Once the pandemic hit and the tour was postponed, I started to think this would be a really nice track to have those guys on.”
The song began its life as an instrumental groove titled “Dr. Jones”, centered around a sinister feel that eventually morphed into an Indiana Jones-inspired track, according to saxophonist Josh Schwartz, who eventually wrote the song’s lyrics. The song received substantial treatment from the Turkuaz groupmind, as Brandwein suggested the working title of “Akar Saga”. Upon researching the phrase, Schwartz discovered it was a beautiful tropical vine and that’s when he knew that he was onto something special.
“A poisonous but beautiful tropical vine with red and black features reminded me of snakes, of which Indiana Jones is famously afraid, so I realized I could combine imagery and words from both placeholder titles to write a song involving snakes,” Schwartz said. “When I found out that the fear of snakes is a word as beautiful and strange as ophidiophobia, I knew this song had to be written.”
The path to actually laying down the track itself, however, was as winding and circuitous as the snakes themselves. Brandwein added,
I think most of us took a small amount of these mushroom capsules I had. Turns out they weren’t so ‘micro’ and some of us had a bit more of an experience than we’d planned for. But we carried on and tried to let the grooves take over! Once Taylor [Shell] started on this bassline I think we may have just jammed on it for about 40 minutes straight.
Listen to “Ophidiophobia” from Turkuaz with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew.
Turkuaz ft. Jerry Harrison, Adrian Belew – “Ophidiophobia”