Growing up in Canberra, Julian Banks began playing music in high school. It was here that he met band mate (and real life mate) James Hauptmann. With James on drums and Julian on tenor saxophone and writing the items, their palship and musical connection grew. The duo joined with Christopher Hale, who performs 6-string semi-acoustic bass guitar to kind the Julian Banks Trio and launched their first, self-titled, album in 2014.
In 2015, Julian Banks Trio was invited to play at the Ubud Village Jazz Competition in Bali. It was here that Julian was launched to Cepi Kusmiadi, a gifted Indonesian percussionist who joined the band for his or her Bali gigs. Enjoying the Kendang Sunda, a set of two-headed drums that’s traditionally performed within Sundanese gamelan orchestra, Cepi introduced a new sound to the group. “I instantly fell in love with the sound of those drums and I was blown away by Cepi’s sense of musicianship”, says Julian. Quickly after this gig Cepi officially joined the band, which grew from a trio to a quartet and have become the Julian Banks Group.
Julian was so inspired by the sounds of Cepi and his Kendang Sunda that on his return home he began to put in writing music that incorporated guitars, saxophone and drums to highlight the traditional Indonesian percussion. Shying away from any inflexible labels, the Julian strives to “write tunes that have an almost ‘tune’ like really feel to them”. Comprising of sturdy melodies and groove as well as some folky sounds, their eclectic and unique ‘Indie-Jazz’ sound is definitely unique to the group. The Julian Banks Group has expanded again to incorporate James Gilligan on bass guitar, who brings even more depth to the band’s sound.
Though the aim of Julian Banks Teams wasn’t to create cross-cultural exchange or turn into an emblem of successful bilateral relationships, the buddieships they’ve fashioned and their collective passion for music is undeniably that. Regardless of their completely different mother countries and cultural backgrounds, Julian says “Cepi and I are basically doing precisely the same thing with our lives”. He attributes their profitable collaborations as a result of real friendship and the band’s strong musical companionships.
Final year Julian Banks Group returned to Ubud Village Jazz Competition, where they also recorded their present album. Julian describes the album as a “lovely mix of all of the instruments and Cepi’s effervescent magic on this lovely traditional Indonesian instrument creates the proper bed for the fashionable grooves and melodic sensibility of the compositions”. Recording the album the day after finishing a grueling hike up Gunung Agung in East Bali. The boys decided to name their album AGUNG, in “tribute to our adenterprise on the great volcano”.
With support from the Australia Council for the Arts, Julian Banks Group is returning to Ubud Village Jazz Pageant and enjoying a number of gigs in Ubud and Candidasa in Bali this month. The band is happy to be back and playing for the various and multicultural audience that’s drawn to Bali. Along with these appearances, Julian Banks Group will be hitting the road for a number of gigs in Australia in addition to recording new music.
If you happen to didn’t think the band was working hard sufficient, on prime of these gigs and recording, the band shall be giving workshops at Yayasan Pendidikan Dria-Raba, a not-for-profit school for blind children in Bali. The Australian Consulate in Bali set up YPDR and has supplied instruments to the students to be taught and observe playing music. Julian hopes that the band can quickly broaden their interaction with Indonesian audiences, especially with festivals in Sumatra, Lombok and Java.