Rockaway Beach-based band Blac Rabbit became an overnight sensation last year, going from subway buskers to guest “Ellen” performers thanks to a viral video that amassed more than 2 million views in 24 hours.
Now, the band is prepping for a debut studio album release to prove Blac Rabbit isn’t just yesterday’s news.
Identical twin bothers Amiri and Rahiem Taylor, 24, spent about two years performing for New York City commuters before their big break came in the form of a Facebook video. A passer-by recorded them performing a Beatles cover last winter at the F train stop on 14th Street.
“We’ve been Beatles fans since we were like four,” said Amiri. Their childhood home in Queens was always filled with the sounds of jazz and Classical music, but a gift from their grandmother in the form of the video game, “Beatles: Rock Band,” caused a pivotal shift in their musical palette.
In 2015, the siblings decided to take their passion for music to the subways to try to raise enough money to visit their mother who lives in Puerto Rico. They made $400 in two days, and decided to busk full-time to keep up with their monthly expenses.
While performing in the subway in 2018, New Yorker Nicolas Heller, who calls himself the "unofficial talent scout of New York" on social media, took a video of Blac Rabbit singing the Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week." The video garnered over 2 million views on Facebook in one day, and more than 18 million views to date.
“Our follower count [on Twitter] was doubling every hour and were watching it, so nervous and excited as to what was going to happen,” Amiri said.
The video’s viral status led to their first TV appearance — an interview with Ellen DeGeneres — and paid TV campaign — a Harry Styles Gucci ad. They were also booked to play the fifth annual "Come Together: NYC" event alongside Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr for the John Lennon Foundation in September 2018.
“It was so surreal in person,” Amiri said. “Ringo stepped off the tour bus and we were all just like looking at each other like, ‘this can’t be real. We were cheesing so hard.’ "
The brothers eventually recruited bassist Josh Lugo, 23, and drummer Patrick Jones, 25, whom they met at open mic performances around the city. The group quickly went from playing Union Square to booking festival gigs in Berlin and Guatemala and at venues like Bowery Ballroom and Knitting Factory.
“I was scared,” said Amiri, who plays guitar and sings in the band alongside his brother. “We were a little nervous because we were playing to audiences of barely anyone. All of that happened in one rush and it was just overnight.”
The rock band still plays subway gigs once in a while for good measure — sometimes at Union Square — but Lugo said the “days of needing to do it are behind us."
Though Blac Rabbit released a SoundCloud EP in 2017, the group is currently working on the release of a debut full-length album, titled "Interstella." And while it does not yet have a release date, they say they’ve already written enough tracks to fill a second album.
“Making an album is way more hectic than we could have possibly imagined,” said Rahiem. “Budgeting, and then your own interpersonal struggle. I’ve had so many moments where I like a song, I’m satisfied with it, and then I start doubting myself and I start freaking out, so there is this struggle.”
Blac Rabbit launched the first single off the album in December and plans to have at least one more track drop before heading out on a 33-show tour in April. The group stops Brooklyn’s Rough Trade on May 18.
If you go: Blac Rabbit will be playing Rough Trade in Brooklyn on May 18 at 9 p.m. $16, AXS.com.