• Basement Tapes: Local indie band Pompeii talks new album, recording process

    Pompeii is an Austin-based band, best known for their detailed ambient rock sound. The band started in 2004 and has been touring for the past five years.
    Pompeii is an Austin-based band, best known for their detailed ambient rock sound. The band started in 2004 and has been touring for the past five years.

    Editor’s note: Basement Tapes is a multimedia music blog series in which each week the Texan brings in independent artists to perform and interview. Check out Culture Spotlight every Friday for new content.

    It wouldn’t be a surprise if the atmospheric melodies of local indie band Pompeii and the gentle tenor of its lead singer Dean Stafford played as the soundtrack to an indie romcom. The fusion of the band’s heartfelt, pensive lyrics and soft-rock sound is made for love-confessing kissing scenes. However, this is not to say it is a sentimental band.

    Soon after its debut in 2004, Pompeii gained international attention for its detailed compositions. From every song’s title to each guitar peak, Pompeii humbly prides itself on its meticulousness. And since the European tour of its sophomore album, Nothing Happens For A Reason, released in 2008, the band has started the recording process of its next album, not hurrying to precisely lay out each beat.

    The band will perform on the outside stage of Emo’s for Wild Frontier Fest on Saturday, and fans have an opportunity to win a spot on the band’s guest list by following its Twitter account and answering a trivia question on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

    The Daily Texan interviewed singer-guitarist Stafford, guitarist Erik Johnson, bassist Colin Butler and drummer Rob Davidson during Basement Tapes about taking it slow in recording their third album, their recording process and breaking out of their comfort zone.

    The Daily Texan: It’s been about two years since your last album, and that was supposed to come out this spring, correct?
    Dean Stafford: No, we thought maybe it would be done by then, but everything has to happen organically ... since our last record, we’ve had 30-plus ideas that we’ve just been jamming over the course. Now we have the gist of most of those ideas that we like, and we’re going to keep continuing to shape those, so we’re still a ways away.

    DT: What are some of those ideas?
    Erik Johnson: Like Dean said, we just notice that [the songs] weren’t turning out the way that we wanted them to so we keep reinventing them over and over. I guess the idea is trying to get away from what we’ve done before on the previous albums.
    Stafford: We’re trying to be less mature on this album. [laughs]
    Rob Davidson: It’s also an issue of sinking into a comfort zone of a formula for songwriting, and we’re trying to flip that.
    Colin Butler: We’ve all played together for so long that we have a comfort zone established, so we are trying to break out of that. Also, in the past, we had deadlines that we had to meet and this time around, we don’t have that, so we’re kind of free to take our time and to make things exactly how we want it.

    DT: I noticed that you guys are very meticulous and detail-oriented, so do you have any set expectations for this next album?
    Stafford: My expectations, I think all of our expectations are ... we really want to make songs that aren’t just good but that surprise ourselves and push ourselves further to make really great songs. In terms of making the songs big, all that kind of stuff, I think it is less like that for me personally now. We’ve been a band since like 2004. It had just come to a full circle for me where I don’t really care about the periphery or the expectations in terms of making ourselves looking like badasses. It’s more about us wanting to make great songs, and that can be really frustrating for us because we can be really meticulous at times, and it can get really annoying sometimes. [laughs] But we want this to be the greatest thing we’ve ever done.
    Johnson: A lot of times, we just get together and start jamming. We each come up with our own ideas for the songs, and then, after Dead throws in the lyrics, we get a feel to the song and mood to the album. When we first started, I don’t think we had anything in mind. It just came together.

    Printed on Friday, September 2, 2011 as: Local indie band to perform at Emo's.

  • Weekend Recs: Austin Triathlon, the Dodo's, Gigglepants Improv and 'The Breakfast Club'

    As if the thrill of watching a group of amateur and professional athletes duke it out on land and in water wasn’t enough, Austin’s yearly triathlon also offers live music, free food and drinks from event sponsors at the finish line carnival and a multi-sport expo featuring games and prizes.

    What: The Austin Triathlon
    When: Monday, Sept. 5
    Where: Auditorium Shores
    How Much: Free for spectators

    The Alamo Drafthouse’s resident jokers Master Pancake ridicule the ultimate ’80s teen movie “The Breakfast Club.” Whether you find John Hughes’ tale of high school misfits crossing social boundaries and bonding over detention inspiring or eye roll-inducing, be prepared to mock the movie along with the comics.

    What: Master Pancake: “The Breakfast Club”
    When: Friday, Sept. 2, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
    Where: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at the Ritz
    How Much: $13.50

    UT’s on-campus, short-form improvisational comedy troupe will perform its first show of the semester. 

    What: Gigglepants Improv’s first show of the semester
    When: Friday, Sept. 2, 7 p.m.
    Where: The Student Activity Center Auditorium
    How Much: Free

    San Francisco-based indie duo The Dodos bring their brand of percussive rock music to Antone’s in support of their latest album “No Color.”

    What: The Dodos
    When: Friday, Sept. 2, 9 p.m.
    Where: Antone’s Nightclub
    How Much: $13 

  • Top 20 Austin Musicians

    Editor’s note: The following music and videos contains explicit content.

    On August 29, 1991, Austin City Council members passed the resolution that named Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. Now, 20 years later, the music scene here is still booming, and arguably better than ever. To help celebrate the anniversary, here’s a list of the top 20 Austin musicians, including native musicians and non-native, notable artists who have help contribute to the burgeoning scene:

    ArcAttack
    Erring on the side of weird, ArcAttack started using Tesla coils to literally make electric music in 2008 and hasn’t stopped producing nerdy, viral hits.

    Balmorhea
    Formed in 2005, Balmorhea weaves dynamic post-rock melodies that pull you in and leave you feeling serene. The band plans to kick off their Midwest tour this month.

    Ben Kweller
    Although he was originally born in San Francisco, the folk singer-songwriter still happily makes music out of his home in Austin near Zilker Park.

    The Black Angels
    If you think Austin psych rock ended with The 13th Floor Elevators, think again with this Austin band that hit the scene back in 2004 and have gone on to play everything from the Austin Psych Fest to Lollapalooza.

    Blue October
    Yeah, we knew them before they got big. Originally from Houston, Blue October banded together in 1995 and then brought their rock to Austin in 2001. The band still frequently performs around Austin, including ACL Live this past April.

    Bob Schneider
    Despite touring nationally, Americana folk rocker Schneider has stuck to the small stages and is a regular at the Saxon Pub down on South Lamar Boulevard. According to his MySpace, he says he still has about 600-700 unwritten songs ready to be recorded.

    Daniel Johnston
    Going back to the late ’70s, Johnston has been an all-around Austin renaissance man from his music to his iconic Jeremiah the Innocent art that greets everyone with a simple, “Hi, How Are You?”

    Explosions in the Sky
    The term “post-rock” can’t capture the dramatic, self-described “cathartic mini-symphonies” of Explosions — a band that got its start over a couple of slices of pizza 12 years ago, according to their MySpace.

    Ghostland Observatory
    This contemporary Austin-based music duo, formed in 2004, brings the funk with a hip, contemporary electro twist. Ghostland Observatory continues to play music and has performed on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and at Coachella.

    Guy Forsyth
    The epitome of homey, Austin dive bars, singer-songwriter Forsyth oozes that bluesy rock sound that’s come to help shape Texas music. Additionally, he’s played Austin City Limits Music Festival twice and opened for the likes of B.B. King and Ray Charles.

    Janis Joplin
    Before becoming the rockstar she’s still known as today, the Texan profiled her back in 1962. “She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi’s to class because they’re more comfortable and carries her Autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin.”

    The Octopus Project
    Described as a hybrid ‘indietronica’ band, Octopus Project has been entertaining the capitol of Texas since 1999 with everything from Theremins to electric plug masks. The band has even perked the attention of ’80s cult band Devo, performing with them at last year’s Moogfest.

    Okkervil River
    It’s been 12 years since indie rock band Okkervil River took the stage at Steamboat in Austin and have since gone on to release six studio albums and perform with other indie sensations, including The Decemberists and The New Pornographers.

    Robert Earl Keen
    Born in Houston and graduated from A&M, country musician Keen springboarded his career in Austin back in ’84, then moved back in ’86 because he was inspired by the Texas landscapes and residents, according to CMT.

    Spoon
    An indie-rock perennial favorite, this band played the Austin scene for roughly seven years before they gained widespread acclaim for their album, Girls Can Tell.

    Stevie Ray Vaughn
    The late, great electric blues guitarist Vaughn, an Austin music epitome, honed his skills here in the ’70s and was one of the first musicians to help put Austin on the map. His statue still overlooks Lady Bird Lake.

    The Sword
    Since 2003, The Sword has rocked Austin, the Lone Star state and the world with their doom metal ballads. Often compared to Black Sabbath, the band recently wrapped up their North American tour.

    Townes Van Zandt
    Singer-songwriter Zandt is another Austin country folk favorite. Although he was already famous by the time he moved to Austin in the ’80s, he continued to build his notoriety as he battled depression, drug abuse and alcoholism in between writing songs.

    Voxtrot
    Indie pop-rock band Voxtrot may have disbanded last year in June but not before garnering the praises of SPIN and Pitchfork over their seven-year career.

    Willie Nelson
    Acclaimed Texas singer, songwriter never hesitates to stop by Austin or be stopped for possession while on the road. Last year, Second Street was renamed “Willie Nelson Boulevard” and a life-size statue of him to be placed in front of the new ACL studios is in the works.

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