Hacienda returns with another Dan Auerbach-produced LP
By Jim Caligiuri,
2:13PM, Wed. May 23, 2012
If it seems like San Antonio's Hacienda fell off the grid, that’s only because the Tex-Mex rockers were busy working over a new batch of tunes. That comes to an end locally when the band, in advance of its third Dan Auerbach-produced disc, June 19, Shakedown, performs unplugged at Shady Grove tomorrow evening, Thursday.
I spoke with guitarist Dante Schwebel, who now calls Nashville home, about Hacienda's garage-y, 21st Century update on Texan roots music. While Shakedown still sounds like the young and engaged quartet – big beats, dreamy harmonies, undeniable grit – there something new about it as well, as exemplified by new cut “Savage.”
“We couldn’t make the same record again,” says Schwebel. “We had to change just to keep ourselves interested. We’ve done something like 300 shows between records and at some point we had to look at what other bands were doing – what we liked and what we didn’t like.
“It’s definitely a more modern record. There’s a lot more Michael Jackson and a lot less Buddy Holly. I’d get some goofy ideas, like driving around and hearing an INXS song and thinking about a different approach to what we do.
“When we made our first record, we had no idea what kind of band we wanted to be. I think that Dan, too, didn’t know what kind of producer he wanted to be. This time was different because we both knew what direction we wanted to take. He’s picked up some tricks from everybody he’s worked with.”
At this point, Auerbach's also become something of a fifth member to the band, even earning songwriting credits on Shakedown.
“He was more involved than the other two,” Schwebel explains. “With his success, and there’s so much attention on him right now, in order for him to put his name on stuff....
“I think he’s careful what he puts his name on. This was the first time he sat down and said, ‘I like this song, but you’ve got to tweak this lyric.’ We actually sat down with pads and scratched things off. We’d never done that before and it’s the first time we’ve shared songwriting credits.”
As far as Hacienda doing an unplugged set, it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds for the San Antonio rockers.
“We did an acoustic mini-tour with Alejandro Escovedo a couple of years ago,” notes the guitarist. “It’s always kind of a challenge, but we get to share a little more personality."
With all the band’s acclaim after two discs and major tours with the Black Keys, My Morning Jacket, and Dr. Dog, I wondered if Schwebel remembered a 2009 gig I attended during South by Southwest in a tiny tiki hut behind Headhunters on Red River.
“That year we were doing double duty during South by Southwest,” he recalls. “We played like 12 shows in three days. Playing a show like that you wonder if it’s really going to matter. Oddly enough the head of our new label was at that show. I guess it’s true what they say about South by Southwest: ‘You better show up, just in case.’”