Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation give way more than they take! Saw them live tonight WOW! can’t stop thinking how cool they are, like an adventure in music. This band takes you on a tour from the first beat to the last strum.

Thievery Corporation is an American electronic music duo consisting of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. Their musical style mixes elements of dubacid jazzreggaeIndian classicalMiddle Eastern musichip hopelectronica, and Brazilian music, including bossa nova.


Thievery Corporation was formed in the summer of 1995 at Washington D.C.’s Eighteenth Street Lounge. Rob Garza and Lounge co-owner Eric Hilton were drawn together over their mutual love of club life, as well as dubbossa nova and jazz records. They decided to see what would come of mixing all these in a recording studio, and from this, in 1996 the duo started their Eighteenth Street Lounge Music record label.

The duo drew attention with their first two 12-inch offerings, “Shaolin Satellite” and “2001: a Spliff Odyssey” and with their 1996 debut LP, Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi.

The duo has publicly stated their fondness of the Brazilian culture in interviews and liner notes of their releases, especially of the 1960s Bossa Nova music movement. Some of their earlier recordings even had specific artwork paying homage to classic releases by bossa nova artists like João Gilberto (His self-titled 1973 album) or Tom Jobim (Stone Flower).

They also released “Sounds From The Verve Hi-Fi” in 2001, a ‘best of’ compilation of 1960s–1970s material of Verve Records that includes JazzBossa Nova and Latin Jazz works from artists like Cal TjaderWes MontgomerySérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66Luiz Bonfá, among others. Their 1997 debut album is also dedicated to the memory of Antonio Carlos Jobim, who died three years earlier.

In 2002 they released The Richest Man in Babylon on their ESL label. This fifteen-track album is similar in sound and timbre to their earlier 2000 release, The Mirror Conspiracy, and features performances by vocalists Emilíana TorriniPam Bricker, and Loulou.

In 2004, they released The Cosmic Game, which has a darker, more psychedelic sound than The Richest Man in Babylon. The album also featured more high-profile guest singers on it, including Perry FarrellDavid Byrne, and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

In 2006, the group released Versions, a selection of remixes by Thievery Corporation for other artists. They toured around the United States, playing at Lollapalooza.  The tour was photographed by Rob Myers, Thievery Corporation’s sitar and guitar player, in the Blurb photo book Thievery Corporation 2006. In 2006, the band also recorded “Sol Tapado” for the AIDS benefit album Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin Redux produced by the Red Hot Organization. As well, in the 2006 release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour for Xbox, their music was featured as the soundtrack to the game.

Also, in 2006, Puma Ptah, then known as Ras Puma, joined and toured with Thievery Corporation and continues to tour with them today.

The group released their fifth studio album, Radio Retaliation, on September 23, 2008. It was nominated for the Grammy for best recording package. Thievery Corporation’s tour started out with five consecutive sold out shows at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.

The language of the group’s lyrics throughout their career include EnglishSpanishFrenchItalianPersianPortugueseRomanian and Hindi. This reflects the group’s world music influences.

They were the opening act on August 1, 2009 for Paul McCartney at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.

On July 27, 2010, Babylon Central, the cinematic directorial debut of founding member Eric Hilton, was released. Set (and shot) in Washington, D.C., the film follows tripwire events in the interconnected lives of its characters, each influencing power brokers’ schemes to manipulate international currencies.

In June 2011, Thievery Corporation released their sixth album, Culture of Fear, which also featured the vocal stylings of Puma Ptah, then known as Ras Puma, on the tracks: “Overstand” and “False Flag Dub.”

In January 2012, Thievery Corporation launched a remixes contest in conjunction with Dubspot.

Additionally, Eric Hilton from Thievery Corporation produced the debut album, Archives, for the Washington D.C. based reggae band, “The Archives,” which released in July 2012. The four main bandmates which formed the band, “The Archives,” included: Puma Ptah, formerly known as Ras Puma, Darryl Burke, Lenny Kurlou & Mateo Monk.

The band released Saudade on March 25, 2014 via ESL Music.

On January 11, 2017, the band released the song “Ghetto Matrix” from their album The Temple of I & I, which was released on February 10, 2017, again via their own ESL Music label.

On April 20th, 2018, the band released Treasures from the Temple via ESL Music.


Thievery Corporation has taken progressive political stances on various issues, opposing war and what they regard as exploitative trade agreements, while supporting human rights and food programs.

In September 2005, the group participated in the Operation Ceasefire concert, with the objective of ending the Iraq War.

From their press release regarding their album Radio Retaliation, Garza said:

Radio Retaliation is definitely a more overt political statement […] There’s no excuse for not speaking out at this point, with the suspension of habeas corpus, outsourced torture, illegal wars of aggression, fuel, food, and economic crises. It’s hard to close your eyes and sleep while the world is burning around you. If you are an artist, this is the most essential time to speak up.— Rob Garza

Thievery Corporation are vocal advocates for the World Food Programme, seeing hunger as “…something basic, really elemental, that transcends boundaries around the world.”


Full members

  • Rob Garza – bass, keyboards, guitar, production
  • Eric Hilton – guitar, bass, keyboards, production

Touring and studio musicians

  • Jeff Franca – drums
  • Rob Myers – sitar, guitar
  • Frank Orrall – percussion, drums, vocals
  • Ashish “Hash” Vyas – bass

Touring and studio vocalists


Studio albums

Compilation albums

  • Dubbed Out In DC (1997)
  • Covert Operations (1998)
  • Abductions and Reconstructions (1999)
  • Jet Society (1999)
  • Rare Tracks: 18th Street Lounge (1999)
  • DJ-Kicks: Thievery Corporation (1999)
  • Thievery Corporation and Revolution Present: Departures (2000)
  • Sounds from the Verve Hi-Fi (2001)
  • Modular Systems (2001)
  • Den of Thieves (2003)
  • The Outernational Sound (2004)
  • Frequent Flyer: Rio De Janeiro (2004)
  • Babylon Rewound (2004)
  • Frequent Flyer: Kingston Jamaica (2005)
  • Red Hot + Latin: Silencio = Muerte Redux (2006)
  • Changed To Lo-Fi (2006)
  • Warning Shots: Digibox Set (2007)
  • It Takes a Thief (2010)


Singles released on ESL Music, unless noted.

“The Foundation” (1996)”Shaolin Satellite” (1996)”2001 Spliff Odyssey” (1996)”ESL Dubplate” (1996)”Encounter in Bahia” (1997)”Lebanese Blonde” (4AD 1997)”.38.45″ (A Thievery Number)” (4AD 1998)”Halfway Around the World” (1998)”So Com Voce” (1998)”Incident at Gate 7″ (1998)”DJ-Kicks EP / It Takes a Thief” (Studio !K7, Rough Trade, 1999)”Focus on Sight” (2000)”The Lagos Communiqué” (2000)”Focus on Sight” (2000)”Sound File 001″ (4AD 2000)”Sound File 002″ (4AD 2000)“Shadows of Ourselves” (4AD 2000)”DC 3000″ (2000)”Thievery Corporation Vs Nicola Conte – Bossa Per Due” (2001)”The Richest Man in Babylon” (2003)”The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter” (2005)”Revolution Solution” (2005)”Warning Shots” (2005)”The Time We Lost Our Way” (2005)”Sol Tapado” (2005)”Originality (2006)”Supreme Illusion (2007)”Radio Retaliation Extras” (2008)”Sound the Alarm / La Femme Parallel (Sonik Magazine 2009)”Vampires” (2011)”Culture of Fear” (2011)

Thievery Corporation photo credit: djdroga on / CC BY

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