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Chocolate Milk To Go …

March 6, 2012

Text by Kevin Stairiker. Images by G.W. Miller III.

David Patrick, Andrew Aulenbach, Curtis Arnett and Justin Davis sit on different couches, fidgeting. This is their first interview as Chocolate Milk, a privilege earned via a combination of their own hard work and by winning a recent Grammy U Live! event at the Legendary Dobbs.

They met at freshman orientation at Temple University three years ago. Vocalist Patrick and keyboard player Aulenbach performed a ukulele and rap hybrid that impressed sax player Arnett and bass guitarist Luke Reitz, who is currently studying in Ecuador. They jammed together a couple times with drummer Davis, who Aulenbach and Patrick knew from high school, and Chocolate Milk was born.

Since then, the band has made an indelible mark on the area, playing wild live shows everywhere from house parties to the Liacouras Center, where they opened for both Wale and JUMP cover stars Chiddy Bang.

“No matter where we’re playing, we always try to be on point with our live show,” says Patrick.

“Thankfully,” adds Aulenbach, “we play often enough that sometimes we can go a while without practicing.”

Patrick describes their sound as something like Mark Ronson or N.E.R.D. but he shies away from stating too many influences.

“Once you start dropping a bunch of names, people get distracted and try to tie you to them,” continues Patrick. “I think I can be honest and say that there really isn’t another group out there doing what we’re doing right now.”

Chocolate Milk’s hazy, heavily jazz-influenced brand of hip hop is certainly not en vogue right now but it’s the kind of music you hear and forgot you needed. Musically, the group writes and performs the kind of sonic jams that Q-Tip had to construct with old records back in the day. But don’t even get the idea in your head that they won’t sonically force you to move at their shows.

“When we’re doing a show, especially a house show, I think I subconsciously want to be the center of attention” says Patrick. “Performing is absolutely a high. Even when we’re on a bill with people like our friends Stinky Smelly, we’re inspired by them. We’re also driven to be better, as well.”

Despite being a hip hop-centric band, the collective influences of the group come from decidedly un-hip hop places.

“I’ve been playing drums at my church since I was 12-years old,” Davis offers. “I didn’t even really get into rap music until I got to college.”

“I picked up the sax 11 or 12 years ago when my mom made me pick out an instrument in elementary school,” says Arnett. “Once you listen to Coltrane for the first time, everything else sort of pales in comparison.”

They’ve released music on the Internet for as long as they’ve been together but Chocolate Milk is now putting the finishing touches on their first proper album, So Far To Go. It should drop any day now.

“The whole thing has been a really, really long process,” says Aulenbach, who also handles production and engineering. “I love experimenting with sounds. I’ll take records from the basement of Repo Records just to find the little sounds I want. I have recordings of Justin’s drums from years ago that I’ll just throw into a song.”

One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 13, 2012 9:31 pm

    Loved it Curtis!!! Aunt Kathy in Atlanta

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