Airpushers: Bring The Funk

Known as the funk-infused musically exhilarated group Airpushers, Printz Board and Tim Izo Orindgreff are also recognized by the music industry as the multi-faceted musicians behind the sound of the Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas. The duo originally formed their own band, Horn Dogs, but when that didn’t fly, Printz became involved with the Black Eyed […]

Known as the funk-infused musically exhilarated group Airpushers, Printz Board and Tim Izo Orindgreff are also recognized by the music industry as the multi-faceted musicians behind the sound of the Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas.

The duo originally formed their own band, Horn Dogs, but when that didn’t fly, Printz became involved with the Black Eyed Peas. He incorporated his instrumental and production abilities into all of the BEP albums, eventually becoming the Music Director. Tim later came on to add his DJ, programming, and various acoustic abilities.

The Airpushers are revitalizing the rudimental elements of funk – the horns and the jam sessions. We talked with the eclectic duo about their musical philosophies and their recently released debut album, aptly titled Themes for the Ordinarily Strange. Alternatives: First of all, congratulations of the release of your debut album. How has the reception been amongst your fans since the release of the album?

Printz Board: Man, everyone has been so excited about the record. It was just a labor of love. You feel me?

AHHA: Definitely…

Printz: It was our labels [Sarathan Records] president [Jonathan Kochmer] who brought this whole thing into [transformation]. We were kinda looking at it as a side project. [But] the way he beefed it up and everybody was like, “Oh my god! This record is great” – we’re like on the Grammy thing it was like, ‘Whoa, I guess everybody really likes it!”

AHHA: Printz, you’ve been with the Black Eyed Peas for eight years. The most obvious thing that has caused controversy for the group is the fact that they got a lot of mainstream recognition when Fergie came on board. You did a lot of the producing on their albums, dating back to their previous material. Were they just like, “Look, we’re in need of a change,” or was it a collective exchange of ideas and just being more innovative?

Printz: It was all based around the 9/11 thing. That’s when me and Will.I.Am sat down and wrote “Where Is The Love?” It wasn’t really about being more innovative. Fergie came into the picture almost after the album was done. It wasn’t like, “We’re gonna put her in the group and now we re the United Colors of Benetton.” It was just a natural evolution in where we were going based on where the world was going.

AHHA: With you basically being with B.E.P. from the jump, would you say that they have changed, or have they really just always been the same, just on a grander scale now?

Printz: I think as far as Airpushers and the B.E.P.’s, [I] think that we’re kinda like Miles Davis, how he changed with the times. I don’t think anyone’s mental has changed; it’s kinda like, “This is where our music is heading and this is where the world is.” The first record was like, “We don’t wear baseball caps and we don’t like bling and all that.” But times have changed, everybody’s getting older and your desires change. I mean after 10 years, people get divorced from their wives and their ideas.

AHHA: When I was reading up your info, I saw that you toured with Black Eyed Peas for three years. Now you met Printz in 1996, so how come you came on so much later?

Tim Izo Orindgreff: They don’t like white people!

AHHA: Really! [laughs]

Tim: No, I’m just kidding. With Printz and I had a band together. We did sessions all the times under the Horn Dogs title, but as far as touring work he took a key spot in the Peas then there was a bass player, drummer and a guitar player. That foundation of the Peas touring lasted for the first two albums. When it came to the third album, they flipped up the actual instrumentation that was the DJ, drummer and bass player. I came in covering the DJ stuff on the MPC’s other guitar stuff and horn stuff, so they could keep it all in a small unit. I kinda covered two or three peoples’ roles. For the first couple of albums I was doing a lot of session stuff, I worked with Nikka Costa for a while, so we branched out in our own ways and then kinda came home together.

AHHA: There are just so many different instruments that you both play did you have formal training with these instruments or are you self-taught?

Printz: I have my degree in Jazz Trumpet and part of the curriculum was that you had to play a little piano and learn theory and all that. I picked up drums ‘cause my roommate was a drummer. I played base ‘cause I like that bottom. And I have a knack for being able to just apply everything from one instrument to the other.

Tim: [For me it was] a little bit of both. I started out when I was 10 or 11 playing the clarinet. I had a wonderful teacher, one of my mentors. She was a saxophone player, she was in the big bands, we hit it off right away. In high school I was a fluent saxophone and flute player. I was working in the mid-west. While people were going out on weekends, I had gigs. Working like that I paid off my first car, I bought my first horns. I still have my first set of horns from when I was 18. Then I took some time off from music for about a year. I was kinda burned out.

Then after college I left and came to California – that’s when I started to learn that it was going to be a whole lot easier to make a living playing guitar, keys, the drum programming stuff. All the computers recording, producing. If I could get a whole lot of things together it would be more viable in the music scene then if I was just a saxophone player. For me it was kind of a necessity to stay involved, because it’s pretty difficult nowadays just to be a horn player and make it. [For] Printz and I, that’s when we started delving into playing keys and writing and producing and all that. What are we gonna do with ourselves as a jazz horn duo?

AHHA: You have done production for everybody from Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, down to Xzibit, and Dr. Dre. If you personally were to choose an artist in this era that you would actually like to collaborate with who would it be and why?

Printz: Actually you know who? An artist who I haven’t worked with who I would really love to work with is 50 [Cent].

AHHA: Really? And why 50?

Printz: I love his temperament. I don’t hate on him, and I don’t hate on him in regards to the pop world. He makes good ass hooky-pop melodies. And I like the fact that he is an entrepreneur at the same time. I like his approach. I met him a couple of times and he’s just been mad cool.

Tim: Interesting… I’ve always really wanted to work with the Beastie Boys and never have. Our paths have never really crossed. I’ve grew up a Beastie fan. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to work on a project with Eminem. Xzibit was fun to work with. Dre was like a dream that’s part of the gospel. Him and Knoc-turn’al. Showing up at what looks like an MTV video shoot in the studio when it’s just actually them working on a track.

AHHA: That infamous track “Bed Intentions.”

Tim: That track was so much fun. That was years ago. It was kind of an intimidating situation to walk into at the time. This little white kid walks in [to the studio] with a flute into that situation. Hello!

AHHA: That’s still a hot track in the clubs. But the thing about West Coast Hip-Hop is that it’s heavily influenced by funk, so it’s a lot easier to collaborate with a producer or an artist from the West Coast probably than with one from the South or even the East coast.

Tim: I think so, or maybe I’m saying it because I live out here. I always really wanted the opportunity to work with the Southern artists’ out. We worked on a remix with Jay-Z [for the track “Encore.”] with Will.I.Am. I think all-in-all, I’ve had more opportunities to work on the west coast sh*t.

AHHA: In regards to the collaborating with artists’ like Warren G, Busta Rhymes and Dr. Dre considering that Hip-Hop tends to utilize DJ’s and heavy sampling. Were these artists’ open to incorporating live band into their sound?

Printz: With Xzibit specifically, him and I, we played horns. It was actually produced by another producer; he was calling us a lot to do stuff. I think we met him through Dre ‘cause we worked a lot with Dre, and as far as the list of other cats. When I produce stuff, I can emulate what it would be like doing a track like what a DJ would do. I can do the live music with Elton John and I can also the programmed stuff, [for artists like] Dilated Peoples, Erik B and Rakim.

AHHA: You produced beats on Tupac’s album The Rose That Grew From Concrete. I have not heard album yet but it sounds really interesting. How did that happen?

Tim: It was a bunch of artists, Rita Marley is on there. It’s a wild line up. The Blue Man Group did a tribute on there. It’s crazy but it’s all Tupac’s songs, so it goes down as a Tupac album.

AHHA: Have you had the chance to go see legends legendary bands or artists perform that inspired you before you yourselves pursued music. Like say, Prince or George Clinton?

Printz: I met both of those individuals I’ve been to Prince’s house, I played with Prince. That was definitely one of the greatest times of my life. I’ve met George Clinton and I performed with him. I’ve talked on the phone with Stevie [Wonder] and I performed with him. I performed a song with Earth, Wind and Fire.

AHHA: You had the opportunity to work with so many different genres of artists. In your opinion what is the difference between a Hip-Hop artists versus a mainstream pop artist?

Tim: I think producers on rock projects are harder to work with than Hip-Hop producers. I am not sure I would stereotype it as different genres or that you have to deal with each differently per say. I really like that aspect of working with different people, because it forces you to play different hands. To hope that you have enough of your own sense together whatever a certain situation needs and to bring something to the table that they never thought of. That’s the fun part – and that’s our album in a lot of ways. We’ve had so many things taken from so many worlds. We always find a way to incorporate everything. We’ll have a lot of Hip-Hop and jazz, and we’ll have a lot of electronics so rock and there’s always the funk.

AHHA: As it stands, are you ready to end the journey with Black Eyed Peas?

Tim: I think we’re all gonna stick together and keep doing a bunch of stuff years to come. We are all over Fergie’s stuff, and we’re gonna be touring with her. The musicians with the Peas are called Bucky Johnson. We have an album in the can with that. The Bucky Johnson play in the live version of the Airpushers stuff. I’m not done with the Peas at all, I’m very happy to be in that. That’s where all the family is. That’s home away from home, and it has been for years.