When Dallas-area native David Garza came to Austin in the fall of 1989 to attend the University of Texas, he hit the ground running. Garza had met Austinites Chris Searles and Jeff Haley through scholastic music events in high school, and all three were ready to play. They christened themselves Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom and headed to the West Mall of the UT campus, armed with acoustic guitar, upright bass and bongos.
Twang Twang was an instant Austin sensation, winning over fellow students and quickly getting invited into campus venues Cactus Cafe and Texas Tavern. Soon they were packing downtown hot spots Cannibal Club and Liberty Lunch, while their self-released cassette "Me So Twangy" flew off the shelves at Waterloo Records.
Garza’s boundless talent, and his desire to make music well beyond the acoustic-trio format, led to the band’s dissolution by the end of 1990. Still, they’re well-remembered enough to rate a three-night stand back at the Cactus Cafe to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary (8 p.m. Saturday-Monday, $25-$30, cactuscafe.org).
Searles went on to tour or record with many prominent Austin acts, including Shawn Colvin, Alejandro Escovedo, the Flatlanders and James McMurtry. Haley moved to New York, where he’s taught music in public schools for many years. Garza continued playing under his own name in Austin through the 1990s, eventually rising to the major-label ranks, before moving to Los Angeles. He’s also become a sought-after producer, with credits including Fiona Apple’s next album.
Garza and Searles stopped by Austin360’s studio this week to talk with us about those formative Twang Twang days. Here’s a couple of brief excerpts, followed by the full audio conversation:
Searles, on the reunion: "We kind of went our different directions, and then when we got into our 30s, we started thinking we were really lucky to know each other, and we started playing from time to time. And now we’re nearly 50! We’ve done a few of these reunion gigs, but this one’s obviously a big deal, for the 30th anniversary."
Garza, on arriving in Austin in 1989: "I’m pretty sure the first morning I woke up living in Austin, I got my classical guitar on to go to school, put it on my back, and Abra (Moore, of Poi Dog Pondering) and Patrice (Sullivan, then married to Poi Dog leader Frank Orrall) stopped me on the Drag and asked me who I was and what I was doing. It was like a scene from ’Slacker.’ And I hadn’t seen ’Slacker’; I didn’t know what it was. But when I saw ’Slacker,’ I went, I lived this."