Talk Music: The Flying Buttresses release first album
• WHAT: Shenanigan Fest
• WHEN: Noon March 15
• WHERE: The Mustang, 309 Crestwood Drive, Victoria
"We Are Strange," the new album from the San Marcos-based duo The Flying Buttresses, could pass as the group's motto.
Inspired by the astral elements of David Bowie and Devo, Andrew Cobb and Jillian Gomez, two students at Texas State University, combine keyboards and synthesizers, crash cymbals and drums and a little bit of crazy cat fever to bend the boundaries of Texas music.
They've played several shows in Victoria and recently a string of performances with the local boys in Folly Collage.
Cobb, drummer, guitarist and howler, caught up with Get Out to talk about "We Are Strange," his vision of a thicker sound and the big experiment that turned into The Flying Buttresses.
How long have you and Gomez been playing?
We've been playing together for maybe three years, but The Flying Buttresses has only been around for about a year and half.
What sorts of challenges are associated with being a duo?
It's a huge challenge. We have all these really grand ideas of what we want to sound like. We try to make as many of those sounds as we can with four arms.
Jillian has three keyboards and tries to use all of them as much as she can. We feel like our live shows aren't as full as we want them to be, but our album is as thick as it can be.
We just got into looping recently. We just bought a loop pedal, it's something we'll have to practice and get used to using. We want to fill out our sound to make it more like what we hear in our heads.
Right now, it's all about economy of sound and making sure nothing is wasted.
What are you trying to accomplish with The Flying Buttresses?
We wanted to do something kind of weird. In San Marcos, there are a lot of - well, it's mostly country music. There's no in-between of metal and country. We both have a certain kind of taste in music; we're both into David Bowie, Blondie and Devo; we wanted to take those elements and put them into something that was a little different.
What's the response been?
It's been a really good response. There's sometimes we'll go play a show, and people have no idea what to do with us. They're like, "What did I just hear?" We think our best shows are usually house parties.
Most of our shows are in San Marcos, San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. We love the Victoria shows; we think those are our best crowds.
What can you tell me about this new record?
It came together because we were playing a house party in Corpus Christi. David King of The Independent Thieves liked us and told us to come listen to some of the stuff he'd recorded. He has a little home studio in Odem. Over the course of about a year, because we are busy with school, we recorded this album with him.
I'm curious about your songwriting process.
That's always the hardest part. Jillian and I come from really different backgrounds in music.
I took piano lessons when I was a kid. I was in marching band and all that nerdy stuff. So I really didn't even pick up a guitar or drums until college, and Jillian has been kind of a self-taught pianist. She follows Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple and looks to them for inspiration.
She just kind of wings it. She has the best gut reaction - she knows what sounds good - and I have this stuffy music theory background, and I tend to overthink things.
It's a complementary process where she'll go crazy with something, and I'll reel it back in.
In our practices, she'll play something on the keyboard, then I'll take it from there and build it out.
We play with a lot of bands that maybe there's too much theory and too much thinking happening - these 10-piece prog-rock bands that play in 5/8 time just because they can. At some point, it's not even for the listener anymore.
Maybe we're doing it right; maybe we're not. It's kind of an experimentation. We just see what works, filter out the bad and keep the good.