We all know the adage: Everything is bigger in Texas. For musicians, that seems to mean that one band isn’t enough for the mass of musical forces milling around inside. Hence, you get bands like The Riverboat Gamblers, whose members just can’t contain their artistic outpourings into one group. Solution? Side projects.
First out of the gate was frontman Mike Wiebe’s project with Mark Ryan of Marked Men. Together with Chris Pulliam from The Reds and, more recently, Daniel Fried and Greg Rutherford of the newly-signed The Bad Sports, they formed High Tension Wires (left) in 2004. Now, they’re ready to release their third record, Welcome New Machine, on Dirtnap Records. Promising a synthesis of their previous two releases (“rocks as hard as Send A Message, while incorporating the nuances they began developing on Midnight Cashier”), you can preview the new album track “Backbone” below. Short, fast, and catchy, the song is certainly a toe-tapper… Or a head-bobber…. Whatever you wanna move back and forth.
Next, there’s something from Riverboat Gamblers’ guitarist, Ian MacDougall. In October 2009, MacDougall was hit by a car while on his bike, endangering his career, not to mention his life. Not to be kept down, he let the trauma of the event serve as major inspiration for his new band, Broken Gold (with ex-Gambler bassist Patrick Lillard, as well as Richard Cali on drums), and their debut record, Recovery Journal, on Volcom Entertainment. The title is fitting, as some of the album’s lyrics are taken straight from the journal MacDougall kept following the accident. You can feel that influence all over the driving rock track “Ambulance Faces”; with the opening lyric“Here’s what I remember from one of the nights that I almost died” and that title, it’s clear his oft-tragic life experiences are a major motivating factor for his music. The results are powerful and honest, just what you look for in a solid up-and-coming act.
You can check out both tracks below. In addition, both acts will make appearances at South by Southwest; High Tension Wires will play at Dirtnap’s showcase on March 19th at Easy Tiger, while Broken Gold will throw down at Volcom’s party at Jackalope on March 18th and at The Parlor on the 19th. The High Tension Wires show should be a treat, as their press claims they’ve “played about 10 shows in their entire existence.” So, don’t miss it; Lord knows when you’ll get another chance.