75 Dollar Bill was formed in 2012 in New York City by percussionist Rick Brown and guitarist Che Chen. Played on a deeply resonant plywood crate, Brown’s earthy, elemental rhythms are both the foundation and foil for Chen’s ecstatic, modal guitar style. The duo’s electric, richly patterned music can shape shift from joyful dance tunes to slowly changing trance minimalism, an uncategorizable hybrid which draws on the modal traditions of West Africa, India and the Middle East, early electric blues, Sun Ra’s space chords and the minimalist and No Wave histories of their hometown. While Brown and Chen are always at the band’s core, the duo frequently draws on an extended family of players, expanding into other configurations live and on record, from compact trios to their “little big band” to 25-piece marching band. 75 Dollar Bill has released a string of cassettes and three LPs. Their most recent record, the double album I Was Real, was released in 2019 (on Thin Wrist in North America, and on tak:til, a sub-imprint of Glitterbeat, in Europe and the UK) and was named #1 record of the year by WIRE magazine.
Percussionist Rick Brown has been in bands in NYC since the late 70s, including Blinding Headache, V-Effect and Run On. Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Che Chen is also a member of the band True Primes and has been an energetic organizer and improviser in the American underground since the mid-2000s. Andrew Lafkas is based in Berlin where he continues to develop solo music and music for large ensembles thru his Model Infinity Orchestra project. He is also a member of Oceans Roar 1,000 Drums, a trio with Todd Capp and Bryan Eubanks.