(photo by Alison Copeland)
A number of years ago, E Street Band guitarist / thespian / radio programmer Little Steven Van Zandt penned an open letter to bands playing an open-air NYC festival, advising the trios on the bill to strongly considering drafting in auxiliary guitarists, keyboard players, tambourine players, heck even interpretative dancers ala Bez or Guy Picciotto. As Van Zandt explained, the traditional classic rock template consisted of singer/guitarist/bassist/drummer and/or singer/two guitarists/bassist/drummer. Trios, concluded Little Steven, simply lacked the oomph-to-get-the-job-done.
(OK, I’m embellishing a bit. I don’t think he’s familiar with Bez).
I could list a number of historical reasons why he was full of shit, but let’s not dwell on the past. I’ve never used the phrase “dollars to donuts” before but I’m betting dollars AND donuts such narrow notions of who is or isn’t legit are reduced to rubble by Austin’s XETAS. Since their formation in early 2014, the threesome have quickly established themselves as a ridiculously great live band, but the enclosed Ian Rundell-recorded debut hints at the sort of musical range & ambition you’d associate with a group not nearly as new (or hellbent on maintaining anonymity). Tempting though it may be to claim XETAS are walking the tightrope-between-heavy-and-catchy, there’s no acknowledgement said tightrope even exists (SUCK ON THAT, WALLENDA FAMILY). Simply put, there’s songcraft to spare, though there’s few modern examples that hit nearly this hard.
It’s probable you’ve seen all 3 of ‘em toiling in other Austin bands ; guitarist/vocalist D has popped up in Debt, Neighbor, The Gory Details and more recently playing bass in The Gospel Truth, bassist/vocalist K in Foreign Mothers, drummer M in Brain Attack and Debt respectively.
There’s a autumn ’14 tour in the works and a monster debut album planned for early 2015.
Preorder “The Silence” b/w “The Knife” here.