Monday, April 11, 2011
[deafsparrow.com] CHAPTER 1 by TRUE WIDOW's Nicole Estill
Our surroundings are undeniably alluring. In May 2008 in Argyle, Texas, the spring slips away quickly and summer unapologetically nestles right in its place like a brash and uninvited house guest. There is a sweet smell of grass baking in the sun and a buzz of assorted wings in the air that only occurs in entrancing places like this. At the end of a long gravel road sits a dark sienna barn structure that heavily contrasts the green grass and tall oak trees. From a lower branch near the building, the skeleton of an old red guitar hangs from a rope like a sacrifice to the musical gods offered many years before. This is where the band will live for the next 10 days. This was never supposed to happen.
On a late karaoke Sunday in the fall of 2007 I received a silver disc.... “SONGS FROM DAN” sharpied on the surface.
As the songs bounced along on my way home, the melodies were like nothing I’d heard before yet distantly familiar: they were momentous and simple. As difficult as it can be to digest a 4 track home recording, this was still music I couldn’t dismiss. We would rehearse these songs the following week. This was the start of our new band.
We were just jamming. We shared the cavernous metal building with the crowded remains of a many of silk screens and their paint-stained accomplices. Dan was heavily involved with his fine woodworking business and the third member, Slim, owned and operated the screen printing shop we were currently occupying. They were both busy and self employed. As a regional director of a cosmetic company I also identified with their other commitments. Considering our career objectives, the band design was to play when we could and maybe drink because we could. Seeing as I was about to move in the coming months, this was perfect. A more relaxed schedule was hardly possible.
Over the next few months of semi-weekly jam-outs, the songs morphed drastically in tempo from that silver CD. It became evident that the old demos were no longer representative of what we had become: a dirgy and plodding version of the former. The exact way it happened is unclear. Playing at this less-than-moderate pace gave the songs more purpose: massiveness asserted itself. It was unfamiliar and appealing. Ten tracks were recorded that winter at the print shop. The new sound was documented.
On a concrete floor, in a small dive bar, in a sketchy part of downtown, opening for four guys dressed in drag doing Ramones covers...... It was our first show. The 40 minutes in front of our friends and regulars yielded the excitement that many months of preparation awards. It was the reveal of the affair that had been filling our excess time of late. And this was Slim’s first time to play drums in front of a live audience. Only two weeks later, playing at a pre-SXSW party, talk of a studio recording for an Austin label began to circulate. A month later back in Dallas, just after our 3rd live show, the studio time was booked, and the dream of making an album was about to become a reality.
The first 5 days in the studio we laid down the tracks we had been playing exclusively since the first jam session. My schedule being the least flexible, only allowed me to take part in the evening sessions. The final few days were spent mixing and as quickly as that, our time was up. The day we left the barn, as we bumped along the gravel road heading back to the city, we had a new silver disc that had just the word “Unmastered” scratched on with a sharpie. I realized then that this band had formed something of itself, quite honestly, whether we wanted it to or not.
Just a few days later the 4th show found us opening for a buzzing Austin psych band at a historic Dallas theater. Stepping onto the large and intimidating stage where I had seen many of my favorite respected musicians play, something was different. The audience was the largest of any we’d seen yet and the faces all staggered to form a faint, complicated texture against the bright lights. It was at this light-drenched moment with our amps warmed and ready to let the first note slice through the murmur of voices, that we were suddenly a different band. The 3 people that had once shared a smoke and sat on the couch casually speaking of music just a few months ago now had a view of something wholly changed. That casual band had disappeared.
In August 2010 in Argyle, Texas the long gravel road ends at a dark sienna barn unchanged. The vibrant trees still surrounded the structure like a fortress. Just the neck of the sacrificial guitar was all that hung from the tree after the past 2 years of its unsheltered suspension. The gods had accepted their gift. The woodshop, the printshop, the cosmetic company cast a much smaller shadow than before. For the next 16 days this would be our home once more.
And so with a couch and a smoke we began again.
True Widow’s new album As High As the Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth is out now through Kemado Records.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 1:50 AM