The Young and Restless
Seven local South by Southwest 'Picks 2 Click'
Thursday, March 15, 12am, the White Horse
Josh Mazour's having a Bloody Mary Sunday morning. The Crooks frontman is hungover from playing a private party the previous night, and now the bass player's gone missing. With long brown hair, big bushy beard, aviator glasses, and a wide-brimmed cowboy hat, Mazour looks like a Seventies country outlaw. That's appropriate since the local quartet traffics in a sound associated with Waylon Jennings and his ilk, a roots bramble not easily classified.
"We call it country because that's the category that was forced upon us by iTunes," explains multi-instrumentalist Sam Alberts.
"It's not rock," Mazour chimes in. "But I have no idea what to call our music anymore. I guess it depends on what song you listen to."
Although Crooks has been scuffling around Austin for three years now, The Rain Will Come, the group's debut LP, drops in May. Produced by Danny Reisch (White Denim, the Bright Light Social Hour, Shearwater), it's an amalgam steeped in the Southwest. Horn riffs evoke Calexico, shaggy honky-tonk, and a taste of San Antonio in a guest appearance by accordion legend Flaco Jimenez.
Growing up in the Hill Country town of Boerne, Mazour had a brother who listened to a lot of country music which he initially rejected.
"I listened to a lot of early Nineties rock, stuff that came out of Seattle," he says. "I was surrounded by country sounds but I resisted it. But when I started writing songs, I just naturally gravitated toward music that was more meaningful, I guess. There's an underlying rawness in some of the stuff we do. I like hearing it coming through."
In an effort to not overextend themselves, Crooks – driven by Rob Bacak on drums and bassist Andrew VanVoorhees – performs only three times during South by Southwest, including a party for the Stuff You Should Know podcast during Interactive week.
"It's a huge nerd podcast," Mazour says. "He loves it."
"I do love it," beams Alberts.