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This Ain’t Basketball

Diverse Tucson quintet unleashes its fifth LP

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It takes a certain kind of basketball player to tally a triple double.

Only the most versatile can amass significant statistics across the board, scoring, rebounding, passing and defending. And a decade ago when brothers Jimmy and Tom Cracovaner put together their latest band, they wanted a name that reflected the variety of styles they'd embraced playing. So, brainstorming names while driving to a Phoenix Suns game no less, the brothers settled on Triple Double Band.

"We thought it was a cool concept because our music is versatile," says guitarist and singer Jimmy Cracovaner. "The nice thing about us is we never set out to create a certain sound. We all bring together what kind of music we like. We have a lot of different styles and we let the music speak for itself and evolve into what it's become."

Unsurprisingly, there are flecks of classic rock, reggae, ska, jazz, soul, pop, R&B and Americana in the band's music. With the core of Jimmy on guitar and Tom on drums, the band has expanded over the years, with Alex Sandweiss joining on piano eight years ago, Aran Canally joining on saxophone six years ago and Rip Nolan joining on bass four years ago.

The Triple Double Band's latest release, the band's fifth full-length, is the twelve-song Cinco de Macho, with a dynamic sweep that spans every style the band has embraced.

"We've always had a very democratic approach to our music," Cracovaner says. "Collaboration is always a good thing. It's not like a certain song needs to be a certain way. We're all very respectful toward each other's opinions because the end result is going to be better once we all put our twist on it."

Those twists and personal additions come from the wide set of influences. For the Cracovaner brothers, who began playing music together in elementary school, fandom of classic rock titans like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix led them into reggae and then crossover bands like Sublime. Now, the band members are apt to listen to just about anything, which further expands the Triple Double Band palette.

"There's musical talent that can express itself and show itself in a lot of different ways," Cracovaner says. "It translates well. A lot of times one person will bring a song to the band, but it evolves and changes to the end result as everyone adds a pinch of their own flavor and personal styles."

Cinco de Macho is a record of a period of time, a representation of what the band members have experienced since writing and recording their last record, 2012's IV.

"We had some new songs written by the time we released the old one. We're all always writing and use our emotions to channel that outlet and put it into the music," Cracovaner says. "There's not one song that really defines the album. They all have their own special style and flavor, which really makes it an album you can get something out of listening to the whole thing rather than a single or two or three good songs and the rest filler."

If there's a specific thread through Cinco de Macho, it's that the record simply reflects life as the band sees it.

"The one maybe unifying theme is we try to have a positive message with our music and just realize that people often times listen to music to take them to another place," Cracovaner says. "It's a soundscape that leads the listener through some peaks and valleys because ultimately that's kind of how life is."

That's a mood that's helped to define the Triple Double Band since the beginning.

"Our music focuses on a certain happiness and a certain feeling that can put a smile on your face. That's what we really like to hear, so one of the things we set out to do is make people's day a little better," Cracovaner says. "We've had our heartbreak songs and all that, but for whatever reason as a band we've always had a lot of songs about love and positivity and exuberance. We haven't had a lot of very dark or depressing songs."

The good vibes extend from the band's record to the stage: "We like to have fun at our shows. We like to dace on stage and we love it when the audience gets involved," he says. "We really do create that atmosphere where you're going to be a part of the show, have fun and leave with that same feeling, lifting yourself up."

The band has slowed somewhat since the last album, with responsibilities shifting in the band members' lives and Jimmy Cracovaner moving to Los Angeles.

"We don't play out nearly as much as we used to but we've had a history of playing three- or four-hour gigs," Cracovaner says. "We all have the talents and know each other well enough musically to communicate and we all love the spirit of improvisation, especially in a live setting, to know it's really going to be created only that one time."

The mentality that drives the band's performances on stage extend the formative "triple double" basketball analogy because, like shows, each game can only be played once. And only by a tight-knit group of five teammates, or bandmates, each filling a specific role.

"If you're a successful musician, you're always growing and that's the goal, to evolve and to grow and to get better and just put your passion into your work and your music. We've definitely gone through a lot together and we're all stronger for the experience," Cracovaner says. "We've gotten the chance to tour and play all over the West Coast and just to be able to follow our dreams has been amazing experience."

Triple Double's Cinco de Macho will be available to stream on their Bandcamp page, as well as Spotify and Apple Music, on Saturday, Oct. 22.

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