By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 5, 2004
Dead Whale Tide
Not only is Austin now the No. 1 place for filmmaking in America (according to MovieMaker magazine), it's also high on the list of 'burgs with a sizable shoegazer/space rock revival going on. Journalistic pigeonholing aside, this, as anyone who owns more than three Creation Records CDs knows, is a very good thing. Just don't tell that to Dead Whale Tide.
Formed two years ago by Longview transplants Justin Preston and Steven Dayton, with guitarist Don Arias and bassist Zach Ground, they've been on hiatus of late despite a rabid fan base. Said groundswell, thanks to the band's nonexistent recorded output and as-yet-unbirthed Web site, has spent most of fall and winter with only memories of one of the few local bands capable of shaping noise into sonic cathedrals of sound.
"We've taken a couple of months off to kind of reinvent our music," says guitarist and vocalist Preston. "We were being classified against our will as space rock."
"Shoegazer!" injects drummer Dayton.
"Right," continues Preston. "But we're definitely trying to change that image of ourselves."
Which might be more difficult than the band assumes, considering the band's passionate local following alongside fellow don't-call-us-space-rockers I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness, A Tiger Named Lovesick, Halley, and My Education. All have built sizable and well-deserved reputations via frequent shared bills at the Parish and filling in the rock & roll hole MBV's Shields left in the wake of '91's Loveless.
To date, Dead Whale Tide's music has come off as a thick, swirling miasma of effects-heavy, um, shoegazer, melodies swaddled in sackcloth and basses, too often too big for whatever venue they might have been playing in. Beautiful, but ungainly, throbbing, and liable to shatter that Guinness glass before you can drain it.
Preston: "Up to now, the guitar stuff that I was doing was all delay-based. Big sounds. I'm trying to get away from that somewhat."
Dayton: "What he means is that we're trying to get a little bit more aggressive, more driving, a little more focused."
So, less Slowdive, more Joy Division, right?
"I don't want to jump on that Eighties dance thing," adds Dayton, "but we're trying to get a little more along those lines, more moveable, more head-bobbable."
As for upcoming releases, the next few months will see the band fine-tuning a raft of new songs before entering the studio.
"Should I mention we're changing our name, too?" asks Preston.
SXSW showcase: Saturday, March 20, 8pm @ Club de Ville; on Sixth