The Orbans, an alt-country-ish band from Fort Worth, has made a name for itself over the past year or so, playing around the state and releasing an impressive album, When We Were Wild (which you can buy from the band here). The band has played Houston a number of times, increasing its fan base steadily each time, and heads to Austin in March to play an official showcase at SXSW 2011.
The Orbans’ Cliff Wright recently answered a few questions for Houston Calling in advance of the band’s official showcase at South By Southwest.
Houston Calling: What are you looking forward to most at this year’s SXSW? Have you played SXSW before?
Cliff Wright: This is the first year we’ll play an official showcase, but we’ve played an average of five or six unofficial shows the past couple of years, including four in one day a couple years ago, which was insane and awesome at the same time. For us SXSW week is always unpredictable, there’s always one or two shows that we have zero expectations that end up being the best.
HC: Any bands in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing during SXSW?
CW: I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of bands I’ve never seen or heard of before, that’s what SXSW is all about. Our friends from Baltimore (now LA), Future People, are staying with us and playing a couple parties. Definitely excited to see them.
HC: What do you consider to be your primary musical influences and how do you think they play into your music?
CW: We’ve always said that our music is a blend of all of our favorite music, which coming from five different guys is quite the musical smorgasbord. I’d say that some of our biggest influences include Big Star, Flying Burrito Bros., Teenage Fanclub. I think if you asked each one of us, we’d give a different answer, but I think they all play out in the balance of pop with a little bit a twang.
HC: How has digital technology helped you create your music?
CW: Digital has definitely made it a different world with being able to record rehearsals and write songs at home and instantly email them to each other. It’s a huge part of creating music, but for the actually recording of it, we kept it old school and went to tape. Digital is a lot of things, but will never replace the magic of tape.
HC: I grew up in Fort Worth in the 80s, and always enjoyed the local (and Dallas/Deep Ellum) bands I was able to catch while in high school. How do you think the scene there (and in Texas in general) has changed over the years? From an outsider’s perspective, it seems to be more cohesive and better organized.
CW: It’s been interesting for sure. There’s been some definite ups and downs. The late 90s and early 2000’s were a great time in DFW rock. Being born and raised in Fort Worth, The Toadies were rock gods and really led that whole scene. Around 2002 when I was getting going in the scene it died off, specifically the Deep Ellum bands. We’ve seen a huge resurgence in the past couple of years with amazing DFW talent and even more important, there’s a nice fan base to support it.
Watch The Orbans’ “Like A Liar”:
HC: Are you guys pleased with the response you’ve gotten to When We Were Wild so far?
CW: Definitely. I honestly haven’t heard much negative about it, which is great. We are very blessed with plenty of support from the media outlets and radio stations that have pushed the record. It seems like every time I turn on the indie station KXT in DFW, we’re on it. Being in past bands that never got those things, I know how lucky we are to have it.
HC: How do you approach the songwriting process? It is collaborative?
CW: Most of the songwriting starts with a skeleton of a tune from Peter, then we hash it out as a collective group. I know for me, I can listen to the record and know who really put their stamp on each tune.
HC: What’s in store for The Orbans in 2011? Are you working on new material? Planning to tour?
CW: A whole lot of writing for the next record is a big step, you can never have enough songs to pick from. We’ve got some tours in the works, trying to get out from DFW as much as possible to make this into a working band and a career, because this is all any of us know or want to do.
HC: Any music you’ve been listening to lately that you’d recommend? Any DFW bands you think I should check out?
CW: I just got the new Hayes Carll record, I think it’s terrific. Kenny just built an amp for Hayes’ guitarist and former Orbans contributor, Scott Davis, who absolutely kills on the album. Other DFW bands to check out…The O’s, Sarah Jaffe, Calhoun, The Burning Hotels, Epic Ruins, Seryn…the list could go on.
One last thing: I’d like to thank Houston for being so supportive of The Orbans. We always look forward to coming through and seeing our friends at Cactus Music, Walter’s on Washington, and the Houston bands (The Literary Greats, The Wheel Workers to name a couple) that have helped us out the past year or so. We’re big fans of Houston!
Thanks to Cliff Wright of The Orbans for taking the time out to answer these questions for Houston Calling.
The Orbans plays its official SXSW showcase on Wednesday, 3.16.11, at Speakeasy in Austin. Visit the band online at www.theorbans.com.