Houston Calling

Free Press Summer Fest preview: Southern Backtones

August 7th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Southern Backtones is a long-time Houston staple. The band has some deep rockabilly roots yet its current darker, Britrock-tinged rock shows that the trio–singer/guitarist Hank Schyma, bassist John Griffin, and drummer Todd Sommer–continues to evolve its sound.

Since stormchasing season has ended and the band plays at this weekend’s Free Press Summer Fest in downtown Houston, lead Backtone Hank Schyma recently answered some questions for Houston Calling.

Houston Calling: Your self-titled album was recently released on Rat Pak Records–how did that come about? Is the album getting a more widespread audience as a result?

Hank Schyma: Ross Wells from Zenfilm played cupid in this union. Our new LP is taking longer than planned to release and Rat Pak Joe got sick of waiting on it. He’s an impatient old fart and started working our last record. It’s now reaching an entirely new audience, getting some major distro, and a second wind… No pun intended.

HC: In the last year or so, you guys released a single (“Slumber Party”) but it’s been a while since any other new Backtones material has been released. Are you guys currently working on a new record? What can you tell me about that?

HS: Gosh, was that a year ago? We have six new songs in the bag that we planned to release last spring, however Rat Pak wants a full-length record, so we’re back at Sugar Hill recording. We should have a 10-song LP finished by October, but you know me…not the best deadline forecaster.

HC: Stylistically, there was a big change between your early music and the last record. Can fans expect another shift in direction on the new album or will it be an expansion on the sound you created on Southern Backtones?

HS: We’ll never make the same record twice, however you can expect the Indie/Brit dance drum’n’bass from our self-titled record and a resurrection of the Spaghetti Western twang from Los Tormentos De Amor. I can’t friggin’ wait, but we also don’t wanna rush it.

HC: Obviously, video plays an important part in your music. The success of “Forever” and the video for “Slumber Party” probably set a standard–do you guys have plans for any of the new material?

HS: Yes! Whatever we do will have to measure up to our last two videos…and that won’t be easy. Zenfilm and the Backtones have discussed shooting the next video in a super-duper special secret site in Mexico.  HC: The Backtones have been a staple of the music scene in Houston for years. What’s your favorite thing about being a musician in Houston?

HS: I love the incest and camaraderie with the other bands–there’s something really weird going on here. Perhaps it’s that black cloud overhead whispering “You’ll never make it here.” The artists that believe that leave town to bend over for the masses. What remains are the ones that just want to make their quirky music, the ones not willing to compromise. That’s the only explanation for why our artists are so unique and the greatest in the universe.

HC: What are some of your favorite local bands/musicians? Any of the new bands that have cropped up lately that stick out to you?

HS: I hate I Am Mesmer. They’re a constant reminder of how untalented I am. They’re the club that didn’t invite me into their treehouse. Falstaff, Two Star Symphony, and that weird, long-haired hippie dude from the Tramps.

HC: What are you most looking forward to at the Free Press Summer Fest?

HS: It’s always great to see Omar and Tim making out. They’re a great couple.

HC: What are some of the things you’re listening to these days?

HS: Serge Gainsbourg, France Gall, Ennio Morricone (the Western years), Craig Kinsey, Lily Allen, [and] Brittany Spears.

HC: Anything to recommend?

HS: Pirate The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, buy the movie The Fall, come watch Craig Kinsey and me perform at Cafe Brasil every Thursday night, and don’t hang a bird feeder outside your window if you prefer sleeping during the daytime.

Thanks to Hank Schyma for taking the time to answer these questions. Catch Southern Backtones perform this Sunday (8.9.09) at 2:20pm at Free Press Summer Fest in downtown Houston. More information may be found at www.freepresssummerfest.com.

Tickets will be available at the gates, which open at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Tags: Interviews · Music · Show listings

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Oh my dRLING OH MY DARLING // Aug 12, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    oh my darling… my sweet sweet darling

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