Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where we’re you born and raised?
I grew up in Houston, TX. Texas boy. Never thought of myself as particularly Texan. But recently I’ve been buying quite a few pearl snap shirts and the twang in my voice comes out after the third margarita.
What was it like growing up there?
Pretty standard suburban stuff. Great family and friends. Little League. Mosquitos. Tex Mex.
What sparked your interest in music?
My Dad got me into The Beatles at a really young age. I remember riding with him listening to Help and Rubber Soul and he’d quiz me on which Beatle was singing which song. At that point the thought of actually playing didn’t occur to me because no one in my family played, and it just wasn’t really happening around me.
Played some drums in middle school. Covered Smells Like Teen Spirit and maybe some Matchbox 20 in my friend’s garage. It wasn’t till the end of high school in the twilight of my competitive sports career that I turned my attention to guitar.
My sister Natalie had left this Takamine acoustic in the closet. The action was really high and you couldn’t play past the fifth fret which was fine because I still hardly ever play past the fifth fret. Learned some Johnny Cash tunes [and] some Bob Dylan. Learned Good Riddance just like everyone else my age.
The cliche is true: everyone in Austin, TX plays acoustic guitar and when I got to college at UT all my friends did and I was able to be inspired and really learn
a lot from some very talented friends.
When did you decide to take on music professionally and why?
I’ve never really thought about it in those terms. I’m always trying to get better as a songwriter and to surround myself with talented people that I can learn from.
That said, when I discovered a band like, say, Old 97’s, it felt like a kind of music that I could pull off if I worked at it. It made sense to me somehow. It was kind of country punk but very clever and seemingly more honest about love and drinking and the life that I knew at the time.
Whereas when you’re listening to Queen or Zeppelin or The Who’s Tommy in High School it’s like listening to Jedi Masters. And you’re stuck on Tatooine.
What type of music do you create?
People have described it as high energy folk music, especially my duo band, Punch-Drunks, that I have with Noah Trevino. That’s sort of like if The Everly Brothers and Green Day had a baby (on a good night). As a solo artist I think I’m still sort of searching for an identity, to be honest. At this point I know what my strengths are, but at the same time, you don’t want to live in the same house forever do you? Tom Waits says your hands are like dogs going to the same places they’ve been. You have to break them of the habits
or you don’t explore. How many songs can I play with a train beat in G? A lot apparently.
How did you get involved with Pop Cautious?
Tyler and I met on the first day of college at UT. I didn’t see him for four years, then we reconnected out in LA. I’d like to think that I coined the name Pop Cautious, but the record may not support that. Scholars debate that point. It’s hard to be sure of anything that happened in 2011. Tyler’s a great musician and friend. One of the most creative lead players I’ve known.
What has it been like working with him and the label?
It’s been a solid collaboration. We help each other out. It helps to have that deep bond that goes back a long way. Roots, ya know?
Could you tell us a bit about your new project and its single(s)?
Known Unknowns was mainly self-produced, with great help from Bryan Lopez who played drums and bass on four tracks. We did the bones of the tracks at his studio in Glendora and then I finished them up at Rockhound Records (my home studio). Tyler contributed some lead guitar and bass and my good friend Nate Hertweck played lead on one track. I wrote about 40 songs or so in the first few months of the year, looked back on some other songs I had already and got it down to 6 in the end that made sense to me as a whole.
What was the inspiration behind this ep? Is there a central theme or various ones throughout?
I think my goal was to write something about life in LA. Somewhere along the way, this guy said to me “we have a lot of known unknowns right now.” I took that to mean ‘things that we know we don’t understand’. So to me this record is about taking stock of your surroundings, where you’re headed, where
you’ve been. The songs show different attitudes and ways of dealing with the same fears and uncertainty.
Where can people purchase your music?
How do you plan to grow as a musician?
I’d like to become a better guitar player and a better all around musician. I’d like to continue to grow as a producer. I’m feeling confident recording other artists and I’d like to continue to do that.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
First of all, stop saying “aspiring.” If you are playing gigs or recording you are a musician.
Don’t wait for your “Big Break”. Don’t wait to write the perfect song. Don’t stay in the garage.
The only way to grow is to put yourself out there and put your music out there. Don’t wait.
Photo credit: Dreamer Loop