Former UT music students celebrate 30 years as band

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Photo Credit: Yon Darbo | Reproduced with Permission

Back in the day, three friends formed a band with a goal to make music and poke fun at “mainstream stupidity.” 

Now, UT alumni Davíd Garza, Jeff Haley and Chris Searles of Twang Twang Shock-a-Boom are celebrating 30 years as a band and the whirlwind of music, fun and fish sticks that came with it.  

Twang Twang is a group of three former Butler School of Music students who combined their creative talents while studying at UT. Just weeks after their first performance on West Mall, the band’s funky lyrics and acoustic pop sound grew them a sizeable audience, which extended beyond campus life and into the city.  

Searles, Twang’s drummer, said he credits the first West Mall performance to the start of the band’s success.

“We wanted to make $22 so we could get pizza afterwards,” Searles said. “We made a lot more than that, and it pretty much sealed the deal that we were going to come back and play again the next week.”

Within the first six months of their formation, the band dropped a record by the title Me So Twangy which included their unconventional hits “Nicotine Queen” and “Fishsticks.” Not long after its release, the record had already sold 5,000 copies in Austin, fueling the band’s growing popularity. 

Haley, the bassist of the band, said Austin was the perfect environment for Twang Twang’s development.

“I think the Austin sound is funky and loose,” Haley said. “Twang Twang fit right into that. We were that.”

Despite their rising success and landing an audition in New York City with CBS, Twang Twang broke up 13 months after their launch. The band’s long-term regroup didn’t happen until over 15 years later.

No matter where they live or how much time has passed, Haley said the band will always have the special ability to come together and make music again.

“To me, it was always clear that the three of us play so easily together,” Haley said. “No matter what else happens, musically we’re made for each other.”

Celebrating their 30th anniversary this September, Twang Twang has made it a goal to perform several times each year, despite all of its members living in different places. 

Garza, Twang’s lead vocalist and songwriter, said he is amazed by the resilience of the band.

“What’s interesting is the idea of 30 years of anything,” Garza said in a podcast set to debut within the upcoming weeks. “How many people do you remember the first time you met them, and it was over 30 years ago? I have two.”

Fans can expect new music from Twang Twang within the coming weeks, when they will be dropping a record titled The First Semester full of previously unreleased tracks recorded during their time at UT.

Searles said the band also has plans to pay homage to their UT roots in April, when they will return to campus to perform at their once-regular venue, the Cactus Café.

“The spirit of the band has always been to have fun — it has never been to make a musical statement,” Searles said. “It’s kind of irresistible to get back together now.”