In the clubs with Austin band These Are Words
On a not-too-hot night in April, the three members of Austin garage rock band These Are Words — lead singer/guitarist Corey Anderson and Dan Levine and Ian Rundell, who split their time between bass and drums — stood outside Beerland, where a small crowd of people were smoking cigarettes and working on Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys. The band had just finished a high-energy set. Someone walked up to Anderson, still sweaty and fired up from being on stage.
"I'm not kidding when I say you guys are one of my favorite bands in Austin. I'd love to record you," the fan said.
The soft-spoken Anderson was flattered. He explained that they already had been recording themselves and that one of his bandmates (Rundell) was studying to be a recording engineer.
It's a nice thing to hear if you're a musician. Hang around Anderson for a while, and it's clear that's not the only time he's heard that kind of thing. In particular, other musicians like to recommend These Are Words, probably because they play a bunch at Beerland and Trailer Space, places where other bands are likely to hear their music. Go to their Facebook page and the wall is full of people asking them to play shows at house parties and elsewhere.
And the band has been around for only about a year. Anderson, Levine and Rundell, all 21, started playing music together as students at Lake Travis High School.
Despite that history, the band's most prominent influence is a fairly recent discovery of the 13th Floor Elevators. "I've lived in Austin all my life and had never heard them, and that was probably the biggest influence on the way we sound now," Anderson says.
While the Elevators' influence definitely makes itself known in some These Are Words songs, Anderson adds his own brand of strange into the mix with his voice, an evil cartoon chuckle that Roky Erickson would probably appreciate.
Unlike a lot of their more punk-inclined peers, the band isn't averse to drawing out their music past the two-minute mark. A week ago at Trailer Space Records, These Are Words played a song they had written earlier that day as the last of the sun beamed through the window. It didn't exactly go as planned, devolving instead into an extended jam, complete with tempo changes and a load of distortion flowing out of Anderson's child-sized guitar, which was passed down to him by his father, who in turn had received it as a gift when he was a kid. The song was a mess, but it worked, improvisation from three musicians used to playing together. People cheered.
As spacey as that moment was, not all of the band's material is as geared toward a munchies-inclined audience. "Monkeys" is pure pop, with a hook reminiscent of Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up." Anderson pleads ignorance: "I probably couldn't name an Elvis Costello song off the top of my head — my mom's a big fan, I should know more."
These Are Words plays July 14 at Beerland with the Zoltars, Grape Street and Well Dressed Thieves. 9 p.m. $6. 711 Red River St. beerlandtexas.com