The Glass Family
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Gathered for pints at Club de Ville, the Glass Family converse easily about prog rock, Austin metal tribute bands, and the virtues of AC/DC timekeeper Phil Rudd.
"Solid drummer," notes bassist Jeremy Gomez. "No fills."
So, by way of breaking the ice, it seems only right to ask each member his preferred Seventies band. (Save keyboardist and neurobiology Ph.D. Frank Alexander, in New York for a post-doctoral lecture.) Guitarist and singer Brian Hubbard says Pink Floyd is the first to pop into his head, while drummer Tony Daugherty opts for David Bowie, and Gomez for the Band. Michael Winningham, vocals and guitar, has Fleetwood Mac and a question: "Is this because you think there's a Seventies influence on the Glass Family?"
Hardly. Their first album, last year's Sleep Inside This Wheel on Austin's I Eat Records, is of the moment without claiming a specific decade. Its closest analogues might be Grandaddy, Centro-matic, or the Flaming Lips, songs of quiet beauty and real melancholy that are introspective and precise. Its wistful melodies and lush harmonies underscore the muted optimism and troublesome uncertainty of the lyrics, caught between what's true and what isn't on "Honest Tries" and "Swimming in Fiction." Darker, rougher undercurrents swirl to the surface elsewhere, most notably on final tracks "Stolen Art" and "There Is a Red Light Waiting for You." Wheel clocks in at just over 35 minutes, but clearly a world of care went into its creation.
"We kept adding stuff," says Daugherty.
"It was a lot of sitting down with [engineer] Andy [Sharp] and listening," agrees Winningham.
Winningham calls the Glass Family's origins "a murky story." He and Daugherty, whom he met in first grade, began playing under the name in 2002, but that version petered out twice: first when Winningham went abroad, then after he returned, two other members left for L.A. Their current run began when Winningham and Daugherty met Gomez in the spring of 2004; the bassist joined because "instantly, I knew I liked their songs." Alexander came along after proving a little too skilled at an audition for another local band.
"He tried to songwrite with them, and they didn't know what he was talking about," says Winnigham.
Hubbard was the last to come aboard, but his arrival sparked a further increase in the band's writing pace. He remembers being so nervous at the new lineup's first show at Emo's, late 2004, that he was shaking. They've since overcome those jitters to land regular slots with elite Austin indies like Zykos, What Made Milwaukee Famous, and I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness. Still, not everyone's a fan.
"My neighbor threatened to shoot a bullet through the window, that's how big a fan he was," says Gomez of an early Wheel recording session.
"We put a bookcase in front of the window to try and keep out the noise, and later a mattress," says Daugherty. "We wound up buying him a night out at the Alamo Drafthouse."
"It's fun pushing people to the edge," smiles Gomez. "It's what we do."
SXSW showcase: Wednesday, March 15, 12mid @ Caribbean Lights