Austin's The Sour Notes are keeping one of music's most celebrated bastions weird, wild, and all around awesome. Lead by Jared Paul Boulanger, these Texans pack a volatile mix of new tricks and vintage considerations on their premiere of, “Don't Listen” off their upcoming album, Do What May. Desert future synths point to tomorrow's digital designs, as the band synchronizes the galloping guitar hooves with horns and retro Hammond organ exclamations that are indicative of the Southwest sound.
If there is a message on “Don't Listen”, it's sit up, shut up, shut out the noise, and just do it. From the get-go, Jared spells it out in big bold lyrics. “Get with it come on if you wanna, get your feet wet, just dip your toe, quick send someone with the car, grab your things and pick up and go.” Other notable moments include the awesome tongue in cheek put downs of, “get bent, get lost, get real, glad to be here,” that introduce an element of humor to the forceful ethos. In time to the steam driving tom-tom drums, keyboard calls, guitar motors and organized-organ attack; Boulanger spits it out with a collected and restrained venom. The result feels like a dazed-out-desert-hazing, where The Sour Notes take you to task through their own obstacle course/citadel to determine whether or not you are worthy enough to roll with them. Highlighted by the organ air gusts, the titular chorus provides the paradox to the band's instructions that keeps you guessing what spiked sweetness and spices of sound the The Sour Notes will dish out next.
Jared Paul Boulanger from The Sour Notes talks about the musical landscape of Texas, schools us with a Texas history lesson, and more, but begins with an inside like at the band's composition process.
I love how many modern electric rock and electro things are happening, and you even factor in this classic horn/organ/back-up vocal relationship. What is the song composition and arranging process like for The Sour Notes?
I start out writing the skeletons of our songs alone on acoustic guitar or piano. I don't like 'jamming,' I'd rather bring a simple skeleton of a song to the band/collaborators to start with, and develop each part with each person one by one. Or sometimes we'll work on a part together and then meet up again after that person had some time to tweak. I feel it still leaves enough room for creativity/spacing out/exploring time signatures while working within a frame. It takes a while but ultimately, melody is the deciding factor we take into creating a song, so I always try to keep the greats in mind [like] Eno, Wilson, when we're working on stuff.
Austin and some of the artists from your surrounding parts have a similar heady approach while summoning these headless-horsemen-of the apocalypse. What do you feel it is about your surrounding environments that contributes to these desperado sounds, and cool-cowboy attitudes?
Going on tour, you realize how long it takes to just get out of Texas alone! As a result of it's huge size, there's a lot of great music coming from all over the state yet we're still sorta isolated out here geographically, and maybe other ways too… I guess that can manifest itself in the music regionally. However, even though I love the psych/garage-enthusiasm that's going on right now, I don't really consider ourselves part of that scene or any scene really. I don't think genres mean anything, they can be really limiting creatively. I feel genres are like the vestigial structures of the music industry, like your appendix or wisdom teeth, you don't really need them to survive but everyone has gotta deal with 'em and there's always a chance they're gonna fuck you up while others are never bothered by it.
I always hear that Texas History is a big deal in your parts. Can you drop some esoteric or obscure bit of Texas history that all of us outside the Lone Star State might not know?
The Goliad Massacre was pretty epic, it happened right after The Alamo. There were over 300 Texan soldiers captured at this fort called Presidio La Bahía down near Corpus Christi who were all executed point blank. Their leader, Colonel Fannin, was executed last after being forced to watch his men die. Fannin had three final requests before being executed: that his personal possessions be sent to his family, that he be shot in the heart, and to be given a Christian burial. Instead, the soldiers took his belongings, shot him in the face, and burned his body alongside his men. I don't really care about that stuff but I stopped at that fort once cause it had a memorial for the event. It's in a really poor creepy area, a wild pack of dogs chased me while I was exploring it. In school they used to teach us “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” But no one ever remembered Goliad cause The Alamo was in a nice place of San Antonio with Sea World and a Six Flags.
What types of do what we please antics went into the recording of your forthcoming Do What May?
A friend let us borrow a 1/4″ tape machine for the recording the album, so Jessica and I decided to sneak it into the UT Music School to record her parts on a baby grand in one of the concert halls as we had done from time to time with no consequence. It's cheaper than paying a studio. But we forgot that the school shuts down for like a month during Christmas so we looked more conspicuous than usual dragging around a dolly full of gear in an empty dark building. We kept getting kicked out by the security guards until we snuck in through janitor entrance. After that we were okay but it took like two hours and it was already midnight, it was so cold and we were terrified of turning on the lights. But we got it done! It was a team building experience.
What are you guys and your friends listening to these days in Austin?
Lately I have been listening to alot of OMD, Morphine, and Broadcast, so I guess old stuff. I really enjoyed Bill Callahan's set at Fun Fun Fun Fest last year and his new album is great. Locally, I think Spray Paint & Ringo Deathstarr are some of the best active bands around town who are touring a bunch and there's always awesome, new bands popping up like Sweet Spirit.
The spring/summer battle plan for The Sour Notes?
We just got back from a West Coast tour last week and we're doing SXSW before our new album comes out in late spring. We're trying to play outside of Austin as much as possible while working on new songs we'll start recording for an EP in the Fall. Gonna try and record it live so we can get it out before the end of the year. Super excited about that! I spent all year acquiring four vintage organs to use on it. Gonna be lots of organ.
The Sour Notes will release their album, Do What May, in the late spring.