SXSW 09 Picks 2 Click

A septet of local acts with (inter)national appeal

SXSW 09 Picks 2 Click
Photo by Sandy Carson

Hacienda

Thickfreakness from a family band

In February, Hacienda made its network television debut on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, backing the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. Behind the frontman's gruff, soulful voice, the San Antonio-bred quartet laid a bed of bouncing roots, Dante Schwebel stepping to the mic to harmonize as Abraham Villanueva pounded out an organ-tinged rhythm on keys.

"That was the first time that we actually played together," reveals Auerbach, who's adopting the band – brothers Abraham, Rene, and Jaime Villanueva and cousin Schwebel – for his entire tour, including his showcase at SXSW 09. "After three run-throughs of 'My Last Mistake,' it was down. We moved on and played half the record. It felt so good."

Like fellow lone stars the Black Angels backing Roky Erickson's psychedelic howl or the Strange Boys supporting Mighty Hannibal's classic R&B, Hacienda has an easy chemistry with Auerbach born of influence. After hearing some demos from the group, Auerbach requested that Hacienda open for the Black Keys at an Austin show in late 2006, later inviting the band to his Akron, Ohio, studio.

Last year's resulting debut, Loud Is the Night, shimmers with naturally bred Beach Boys harmonies and soulful pop cut into rootsy, garage rhythms. With touches of British Invasion and the hometown lilt of Doug Sahm and the Krayolas, the LP sweeps an array of 1960s sounds. Members of Dr. Dog added further complementary touches to the album, offering Hacienda the opening slot on their tour last fall.

"It really helps when a band like that takes you out," affirms Schwebel. "We weren't under any pressure to draw anywhere. We were the first band going on, but because of the association with Dr. Dog, people were really willing to listen."

Hacienda has begun writing and recording new songs with Auerbach and hopes to have its sophomore effort finished by fall. In the meantime, the band is testing the familial bonds with life on the road.

"It helps more than it hurts," laughs Schwebel of the band's kinship. "We used to fight all the time before we were in a band anyway, so usually any of the stuff we fight about doesn't have anything to do with the band. Maybe musically we tend to be a bit harder on each other, but we also know when to give a little. I guess all the sensitivities have gone out the window by now since we've known each other so long. It's a lot easier if Jaime just throws a drumstick at me than if he tries to care about my feelings or something."


SXSW SHOWCASE: Wednesday, March 18, 8pm @ Headhunters and 1am @ the Parish; Thursday, March 19, 9:40pm @ Emo's Jr.

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