Monday, June 9, 2008

Centro-matic: Dual Hawks

Keeping track of the distinctions between Centro-matic and South San Gabriel could be a full-time effort, if one were so inclined. Based in Denton, Texas, Centro-matic once titled an album South San Gabriel Songs/Music, only to give a splinter faction of the participating musicians—meaning Centro-matic and more friends—the name South San Gabriel and release that album in Europe under the new band name. South San Gabriel includes the four core members of Centro-matic, plus additional members, but we’ll get to that shortly. You might be inclined to say that Centro-matic material tends to be more rockin’, with SSG its mellow, literary counterpart, and Will Johnson’s solo material as…well…usually (how shall I put this?) skinny-dipping in the abyss—but it would be a gross oversimplification.

Each of these projects shares all of the aforementioned respective qualities and more. What is distinctive about the release of Dual Hawks is that we get the chance to hear side-by-side the various ways in which Centro-matic and South San Gabriel complement and play off of each other—sort of the full-length equivalent of a split single. With Dual Hawks, the respective bands prove once again that they are one of the rare breeds who can do both. Catchy hooks, wiry guitars, harmonies and handclaps, splendid string and horn arrangements, and songs so well written and produced they will make indie-rockers of lesser mettle go home and cry.

Was Dual Hawks always conceived as a double album? Was it an excuse to get more songs out at once?

Will Johnson: “Originally, our last record (Fort Recovery) was supposed to be a double album. In the end, we decided not to do it that way, but I think there was still a carried-over attraction to eventually doing one. As time went with all these recordings, I think we all came to agree that it was a very solid look at what each of our musical entities do. They sit pretty well together. I think it was originally Mark’s suggestion to do the split double album, and we all agreed it was time to shake things up a bit, put out a bold release and take a chance. Something real fan-friendly, and at the same time against the grain.”

Where do the songs come from? Do they have a unifying thread?

WJ: “The approaches to each side were pretty different. I worked on the South San Gabriel songs for a number of months before we all got together, constantly picking at them, changing things. It’s far more preconceived, carefully orchestrated and labored over. The Centro-matic session was more about writing and recording right there in the moment. More than half of the Centro-matic side was written in the studio, and those songs were recorded within hours of being written. Lots of spontaneity, rawness, and fun in that approach.”

UpComing Dates:

Saturday, June 21 - Athens, GA - 40 Watt
AthFest 2008

Sunday, June 22 - Richmond, VA - The National
Opening for The National

Tuesday, June 24 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
with Glossary

Saturday, June 28 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theatre
with the Kadane Brothers
Show being filmed for a live DVD.

Centro-Matic Photo: Melanie Gomez

No comments: