Thompson

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Tucked away in Kismet Cafe’s loft, The Daily Texan talked to local band Comforter about hot tubs, average middle-agers and the process of releasing their first full-length album.

Ryan Curtis, BJ Thomas, Russell Cole and accounting junior Hunter Thompson created Comforter after connecting on Craigslist. The offbeat, surf-pop four-piece has since released a live recording of their set on KVRX Local Live and an EP titled Extra Pure.

Although the band has not yet named its freshman album, which will come out in June, Thompson said the album shows how Comforter has matured since the band first formed in February 2014. Thompson said the band members’ live performances and latest two-song release — “What You Run” and “Angela” — are more indicative of their musical direction.

“Our first stuff is pretty disjointed because we didn’t know each other at all,” Thompson said. “Then we started playing more, and it kind of fell into something.”

Listen to "What you Run/Angela" now:

The band members are playing at the West Campus Block Party on April 25 before they leave for a 10-day tour, which will take them to cities such as Nashville, Tennessee; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Dallas. Curtis said touring will be an opportunity to spread the band’s sound and face new audiences.

“We don’t want to get too comfortable playing with the same people over and over again,” Curtis said. “Austin’s cool, but every city is so different. [Touring] is just something you have to do.”

In Austin, the band members appeal to audiences with their quirky onstage antics and minimalist aesthetics. Geography sophomore Kouros Maghsoudi first heard Comforter when they played on Local Live in October.

“They have a beachy, chill vibe, but they’re also upbeat, and you can dance to them,” Maghsoudi said.

Maghsoudi said he was intrigued by the band’s slightly strange performance on Local Live. The band paid “average middle-ager” Victor Steele to dance during their set.

“Not only did [Steele] do it, but he committed, and he loved it,” Thompson said. “He’s figured it out. He wasn’t outrageous with it, but he was definitely confident.”

The band members’ laid-back attitude seeps into their branding. Curtis designs the band’s minimalist album covers and logo — a baby-pink Jesus sandal over psychedelic wicker. Upstairs in Kismet, Curtis wore a pink button-up with a flamingo on the pocket, and Thompson had on a T-shirt from the 1996 Olympics. They described their sound as “safe-sex fraternity surf.”

“Safe sex is key to that, though,” Thompson said. “It’s very safe sex.”

The band is not always a hit with the critics. Gerard Cosloy, co-owner of indie-label Matador Records, caught one of Comforter’s shows last year and posted a negative review online.

“He dissed us hard, dude,” Thompson said. “He’s like a 45-year-old dude and he said, ‘They’re so pedestrian you can’t wait to run them over.’”

Laughing, Curtis and Thompson said they have since proudly used the adjective pedestrian to describe Comforter.

Although the band members are excited with their success in the Austin music scene, Curtis said they ultimately want to perform for a larger audience.

“I think we need to go on tour and step it up,” Curtis said. “We’re realistic about it. Not to say I’m not stoked about the progress we’ve made, but there is a long way to go.”

Comforter is part of local indie-music collective Merderhaus Records, which includes bands such as Loafer and Hola Beach. The duo said the supportive community of young, talented musicians challenges Comforter to work harder.

Comforter’s upcoming tour may have a hectic schedule with nine shows in different cities every night, but Curtis said the band is just looking forward to opportunities to relax on the road.

“We’re gonna get a hotel room, hopefully one with a hot tub, and just sit in the hot tub,” Curtis said.

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  • What: West Campus Block Party 2015
  • When: April 25
  • Where: West Campus
  • Admission: Free

With the departures of Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton and Cory Joseph, J’Covan Brown (14) will have to shoulder a greater scoring load.

Photo Credit: Allen Otto | Daily Texan Staff

For the Longhorns, watching three former players being picked in the NBA Draft’s first round can be both exciting and troubling — exciting because of the bright futures that await them, but troubling because they leave Texas a bit short-handed.

But there’s no reason to worry. Texas head coach Rick Barnes has established a program consistently successful enough that it doesn’t rebuild — it reloads. His squad returns some solid players, including sharp-shooter J’Covan Brown, along with big men Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene. There are also several promising newcomers, such as lightning-quick point guard Myck Kabongo, top-100 prospects guard Sheldon McClellan, forward Jonathan Holmes and guard Julien Lewis.

The Longhorns may not start Big 12 play 11-0 like Thompson, Hamilton and Joseph helped them do. They may not climb as high as No. 2 in the polls. And they may not have anyone contend for the Big 12 player of the year award like Hamilton did last season. But next year should see Texas go farther in the NCAA Tournament than last year’s team did.

The biggest reason Texas can improve from last year’s second-round exit is Brown. In the Longhorns’ biggest win, a 74-63 triumph over Kansas in their first ever win in Lawrence, Brown was brilliant. He was the catalyst of the second-half surge that put Texas on top, scoring 16 of his 23 points in the final 11:36 including consecutive three-pointers that gave the Longhorns their first lead, 45-44, at the 10:41 mark. Brown saved his best basketball for last, averaging 17.4 points in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments, shooting 46.2 percent from the floor, 96.8 percent from the free throw line, and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Chapman, who redshirted all of last season for the opportunity to start his senior year, and Wangmene will be serviceable big men who may not be dangerous scoring threats but can still pull down rebounds in bunches, as well as alter (and maybe even block) a few shots.

But Texas has always relied on freshmen — from Kevin Durant to D.J. Augustin to Avery Bradley to Thompson and Joseph. This year will be no different. Kabongo, a McDonald’s All-American from the same Findlay Prep school that Thompson, Joseph and 2009 graduate Avery Bradley went to, will likely take over as point guard next season. Next season figures to be the first since 2008, when Augustin was here, that the Longhorns will have a true point guard. Three others from the high school class of 2011 ­— McClellan, Holmes, Lewis ­— should get shots at playing time as well.

This is not to say that Texas won’t miss the trio of first-rounders. Hamilton was the team’s leading scorer, Thompson its top rebounder and Joseph had the most assists. They were three of four Longhorns to average 30 minutes per game, with the other being Gary Johnson, who just finished his senior season. Those are not easy holes to fill.
But with players such as Brown coming back and players such as Kabongo coming in, Texas has a good shot at making it back to the Sweet 16, or further.