We caught up with local favorites The O’s before the release of their fourth-studio album, Honeycomb, this Friday at The Kessler. It should come as no surprise that the following Q&A with the Dallas-duo is both smile and laugh-inducing. Cheers.
1) First and foremost, congrats on the new album! Can you tell us a little bit about the production of Honeycomb and why you decided to use PledgeMusic?
Taylor: Crowd funding is something a majority of bands at every level are doing these days, and we see a ton of value in it. It enabled us to get the word out about our new album as soon as we started writing and allowed us to get our long time supporters involved at the onset. It’s a really powerful tool – it offers both advertising and startup money.
John: Sounds like we’re advertising, but it’s for real. It’s extremely tough to be working as a full time band, but with the help of PledgeMusic and stuff, we are able to keep writing and putting out albums. It’s an expensive endeavor [recording]. Most folks find music on Spotify or Soundcloud and the reality is that album sales suffer because of it. It’s a catch-22: we want as many people to listen, but we also wanna eat!
2) On your website, you say you took a pretty “different approach to this record.” How so?
Taylor: Our original idea was to travel down to Dripping Springs, TX to record at the Rolie Ranch (home to Gregg Rolie of Journey and Santana). Due to the torrential Texas flooding in May 2015, that idea was swept off the table. We had our same producer from Thunderdog (Frenchie Smith) along with Sean Rolie as assistant engineer/mixing but no place to record just 2 weeks before our session. Our tour schedule was booked solid so we had to figure out a new plan for the blocked dates and fast. In the middle of our panic, we were playing a show at the River Road Ice House in New Braunfels, TX and thought, why don’t we just rent out the “cabins” behind the venue for a couple weeks and just go for it?
John: Yeah. so two weeks later, Frenchie and Sean rolled up into the Singlewide trailer we rented behind the Ice House with some gear (a U47, an ELAM 251, a BAE 1073, an API 525, and a RADAR) and we were in business. Just 4 dudes, a couple of mics, 12 tunes, and 2 weeks to work. It’s never been done like that before. At least not there.
Taylor: We lived, recorded, slept, ate, drank, everything, in these two singlewides normally used for band lodging and a green room. Concerts went on in the background, drunken country fans would stumble past our “studio” at all hours while we worked.
John: It was pretty insane really. Our sound treatment of the room was a bed-sheet duct taped to the wall. It was so much fun though. All of us had a blast. At least Sean and Frenchie said they did. We haven’t heard otherwise…
3) It’s easy to see that there is a pretty gregarious dynamic between you two that fans really love. We wonder — is your studio process as playful as your performances?
Taylor: I would say that if the masters were ever discovered years down the road, it would definitely be up in the air whether our college graduate status was a farce or not. The recordings are filled with the same great (bad) jokes and good times that surrounded the making of the album, just like on stage.
John: Yeah, I’m sure it’d be like anything where you’re cooped up in a shoe-box with the same four people for two weeks. I’m positive there are some dumb jokes immortalized on tape. I mean, we definitely take what we do seriously, but we might as well have a good time doing it. This is a full-time thing for us. I don’t see the point in being a frowny musician. I’ll write the songs frowny and play them laughing.
Taylor: We’re not trying to be kickin’ rocks, squashin’ water, and spittin’ in the wind, that doesn’t get you anywhere. We’re out here having a blast traveling, writing, and recording. It’s hard enough, might as well have some fun with it!
4) Being a Dallas-based group, we’d love it if you could share some of your thoughts on the North Texas music scene — its influence on your music, etc.
John: We grew up with Funland, Tripping Daisy, Hagfish, Rev. Horton Heat, and Toadies’ posters on our walls. I somewhat remember the first Edgefest I went to was when I was like 12 years old and Tripping Daisy was the headliner. A local band was headlining a huge show over Violent Femmes and Crowded House! Anything was possible then. The list of local groups that influenced me is way too long – but the music scene in Dallas truly created us. I mean I had a fake ID just to say I was 17 so I could get into Trees and see Course of Empire! Deep Ellum had a lull, but it’s so awesome to see it back and bustling.
Taylor: The Deep Ellum music scene back then shaped and inspired me so much, and that’s why we have been so keen on tryin’ to keep that energy alive through the years. So many great bands and musicians are roaming our metroplex streets, working behind bars, serving food and it’s with the fan’s support that they can take that dream to the next level while helping Dallas to continue to establish itself as one of the nation’s most valuable music scenes.
5) Favorite North Texas hangout spots/venues?
Talyor: Dang, this might be a long one. I’m sure we both agree : Lakewood Landing, Cock’n’Bull, Libertine, AllGood Cafe, Twilight Lounge, Dan’s Silverleaf…
John: Let’s not forget about Granada, Lola’s, Vickery Park, Cosmos, Post Time…
Taylor: … Pour House, Dubliner, Magnolia Motor Lounge, Gold Rush, Starplex, of course.
John: … Kellers, El Fenix, Henks, Good Friend, Tacos Y Mas, Blue Goose… wait, are we talking about food? I’m hungry.
6) What’s next for you guys after the album release?
Taylor : Tour! We’re gonna start a heavy national tour after our appearance at Steamboat MusicFest in January 2016. It’s hard to get everywhere we want to go, turns out 365 days just isn’t enough. So we’ll go from border to border, coast to coast, jump the pond, and do it all over again until it’s time to put out another album. It’s what we do.
John : You mean we gotta like do stuff too?