Photo by Todd V. Wolfson
Combining the indie vibe of the modern central Texas music scene with the longing strains of Texas folk, Wheeler Brothers have emerged as one of the most exciting bands breaking out of Texas. Wheeler Brothers’ debut album “Portraits,” released in late June of 2011, was met with rave reviews on a local and national level, and the Austin five-piece are playing gigs around the southwest this summer, capped with an appearance in October at Austin City Limits.
The brothers Wheeler – Nolan, Tyler and Patrick – met Danny Matthews at LSU where they spent their afternoons picking guitars and swapping stories in the bar rooms of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Once back in Austin, the group added guitarist A.J. Molyneaux, a lifelong friend, to round out their sound. Each member brings his own musical direction and ideas to the group. With precise vocal harmonies and a unique cast of instruments, Wheeler Brothers have created a sound that has brought them to the forefront of the Austin music scene.
Wheeler Brothers are Nolan Wheeler on guitar, piano, and vocals; Danny Matthews on guitar and vocals; A.J. Molyneaux on lap steel, guitar and vocals; Tyler Wheeler on bass; and Patrick Wheeler on drums. Danny responded on behalf of the band.
You can catch Wheeler Brothers live tonight at KGSR’s Blues on the Green in Austin.
1. What is your hometown?
2. With what fictional character do you most identify?
Jerry Seinfeld. I know, kind of weird. It’s the over-analysis. I have an endless proclivity for over-analyzing everything. I often wish I could turn it off, other times, I am glad I though it through.
3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.
Kevin Bacon, no doubt.
4. What work of art speaks to your soul?
Man on a Wire. In the 1970′s, Phillippe Petit stretched a tightrope between the two World Trade Center buildings and carefully walked it. At the center point between the two buildings, he stops and lays down on the rope for an extended period of time. He floated. Just think about the dynamics of that particular moment in time. Imagine looking up and seeing a human floating in the air. Its surreal, but real. Dangerous. The entire crew were such hooligans! Equally important, the stunt, unlike many other forms of art, had a critical moment that occurred, and then was over. It was the original flash mob. No one saw it coming, no one knew how to interpret it. It just was. Seeing the footage from that spectacle affected me.
Also, the first time I heard Joanna Newsom. I was very nearly in tears. I mean, the nerve of this girl! Beautiful. Incredibly talented. Especially the Milk Eyed Mender. The trembling voice of a child stirring on about these very private, very adult components of her life. Again, surreal, but with a pop sensibility. It’s an intoxicating blend for me.
5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?
Right now, its Ken Keasey’s, Once A Great Notion. It’s a fantastic book, a real genre bender. The story unravels about this logging family in the great northwest, with thorough character detail. Still, I have trouble recommending it to people. Its a difficult read! It skips around a lot between point of view narration and event history, so you really have to pay attention. I have had to re-read almost every page. If you can get into the rhythm of it, and be patient, Keasey is an absolute wordsmith. A philosopher.
6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?
We are going to start recording our second LP soon, so I have been very critically listening to music lately – LOTS of it. Focusing and actively trying to figure out what noises I like, where they came from, how they might have recorded them, why the song structure or album structure work, etc. Its a little bit of effort that goes a long way. You have to listen to a full record in order to understand a complete thought. You just HAVE to be honest with your own taste and not be afraid to be critical of, even the most acclaimed records. To be frank, most modern indie rock, in an effort to be hip and lo-fi come off almost completely un-listenable. (Am I the only one?) But, I digress… Here are 10 or so records that I have been listening to obsessively lately, especially with concern to the recording dynamics and pop sensibility, from top to bottom:
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Grizzly Bear, Yellow House
Broken Social Scene, You Forget it in People
Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Animal Collective, Sung Tongs
Ryan Bingham, Mescalito
LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
Bright Eyes, Cassadega
The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks
Arcade Fire, Funeral
The Fruit Bats, The Ruminant Band
Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
Other stuff I have been jamming a lot of lately:
7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?
Forrest Gump. Every single time.
8. Cat person or dog person?
Dogs. I will punt a cat.
9. What is more important, truth or kindness?
Luckily, humans are capable of being both truthful and kind (You should meet my parents). It’s a difficult thing to weigh. I suppose I would rather someone be truthful. There are a lot of charming liars out there, I would rather someone be honest and an asshole.
10. How do you define sin?
$2.75 for bottled water. Sin is a word that describes someone’s own boundaries. Sin is committed by people when they act against the expectations of their own decency. Of course, everyone’s got their own private set of ideals, and rightly they should. The feeling, the sin, is felt by a man with a good conscience and a will to test his boundaries, however reluctantly.
11. How do you define virtue?
The quality of a person who is honest with their own direction in life, whatever that may be, while respecting the various walking paths of others.
12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?
Sure! Its a free-standing mausoleum shaped like a gigantic telephone on Jamaica Beach in Galveston, TX. You can press a button and hear Morgan Freeman narrate my biography.
Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?