It may be business as usual for this Lone Star
State band, but that
business has included plenty of hard work and sacrifice.
BY MAX BLAU
Houston indie rockers Buxton have been making
music for eight years, but only now does it feel like their time has finally
come. Originally formed as an acoustic trio, the group expanded over the years
into a six piece, slowly but surely tinkering with their setup as well as
fine-tuning their sound. After taking their time to find their musical sweet spot,
they released their third full-length album Nothing
Here Seems Strange last month, an Americana-laced album that recalls early
My Morning Jacket or fellow Houston
singer-songwriter Robert Ellis.
BLURT caught up
with Buxton co-founders Sergio Trevino and Chris Wise last month, where the two
discussed the band’s origins, becoming professional musicians and their New
West debut album. [Buxton hit the road
last week – check tour dates at their website.)
BLURT: How did Buxton originally begin?
CHRIS WISE: In
2003, we were still in high school – Sergio had graduated. We were all friends
through proximity, we didn’t really play much… me and Sergio hadn’t played in
any other band before. Jason [Willis] had been in other bands, but for the most
part it was really new to us.
At what point did you feel like the
Buxton of today came together?
Wise: We started
writing music and kept at it for a
really long time until eventually we decided we wanted drums and more vocals
and another guitar player. It gradually all grew. It wasn’t so much of a
concerted effort as it was writing for the songs. [For instance], the songs
needed drums [on Nothing Here Seems
Strange]. On the record before that, we didn’t necessarily need drums.
Same thing with Austin [Sepulvado] and Haley [Barnes], we needed more things so
when we recorded we tracked more things. The people that helped us track those
things are the people that were on the album. They are the people that joined
At what point over that period did Buxton
seem like something you could do professionally?
kind of a tricky question, because after doing it for so long, it became a
thing where it’s just what we did. I don’t even think we really had high expectations
early on. Me, Sergio and Jason were best friends and we liked making music
together…We take it a lot more seriously now, but that’s just because there’s a
lot more responsibility now.
within the last year, it’s where the big shift has been in that… there’s a
chance where we can actually do this for a living, not just do it for fun. I
think that’s the idea, as an artist you want to make the best thing that you
can. Not for the sake of… the better the songs I put out, the better chance I
have of paying the bills. I just never made the correlation until recently.
It’s strange because where we’re at
now, we have to invest more of ourselves… we have to pay for it. The band
actually has bills.
Wise: It makes
it into a very real thing, you basically try to not have that interfere with
what you want to do creatively as much as possible. It’s different than when
you’d play whatever show you can to now where you have to be particular about
your shows and you have to make sure that what you’re doing is sustainable.
Trevino: I have
to give Chris a lot of credit of this one, the business part of music… it’s
very unappealing to me and unromantic. He really allows me to not have to worry
about it too much and focus on songwriting. It takes a lot of the pressure off
of me on that level.
Wise: It is true,
though. Some of that stuff is very disheartening, it’s one of those things
where you never perceive that happening and it never plays out the way you
expect it to. It’s weird, but the reality of the situation. It’s not glamorous
all the time, but it’s fun – something we all like to do.
It’s the blessing and the curse of being
Wise: You can’t
avoid it, you just have to try and distance those things as much as possible.
In our case, that’s split basically between me and Sergio – I try not to have
him worry and make sure things run as smoothly as possible. We have our friend
Aaron who helps out too. It doesn’t contaminate what we’re trying to do – we
try and keep it as separate as possible.
Do you consider yourself to write songs
on larger ideas like that or are you more of an introspective writer?
Trevino: I do,
but I generally try and stay away from that. I feel like it says something
about the person writing it, like they have it figured out, when I don’t like
to give that idea off at all. I hear a lot of music that seems… not
opinionated, but just so confident. I generally look down on stuff like that
because I feel like nothing’s absolute and you have to have a sense of humility
when you look at such big topics like life.
You mentioned how there’s a songwriter
that you don’t like; who were your influences during the making of this record
(lyrically and musically)?
Trevino: I would
need to think about this a little bit. I was listening to a good amount of Bill
Callahan at the time with (Smog) and his solo stuff… We always listen to stuff
like Wilco or Radiohead, but I guess that’s more of an aesthetic-type of thing.
I love Jeff Tweedy and Thom Yorke lyrically, but I don’t think I really take
too much from their styles of writing. I like Ron Sexsmith as a writer. It’s
hard for me to think of a lot of people right off the top of my head…
around that time I started listening to a lot of Spoon. The way they record sonically
to me, their recordings are some of my favorites because the sound is so
direct. In my mind, sonically I wanted something that clear at the time – It
doesn’t always turn out like that. That’s what me and a couple of others had
been listening to at the time. It’s hard to say whether or not that influences
what you were recording because you want to have it come from as personal of a
place as possible. Granted, influence is going to come through… it’s hard to
Talk to me about “Fingertips,” the album’s
“Fingertips”… it’s this thing about intimacy. This is a narrative type of story
where basically it’s about this guy having this previous relationship with this
girl. He sees her again after escaping this party that the police have raided.
He jumps over the fence and he’s standing next to this person he used to have a
relationship with. It’s kind of like a lost intimacy because…he’s trying to
talk to her in this moment of real potential for intimacy – you’re standing in
the dark hiding from the cops. You’re with someone who you used to be with. But
rather than rekindle something, it’s just being lost by something. In her
particular case, she’s just too far-gone to make any sort of real connection…
[here] in under a sort of influence. It’s just about wanting to connect with
somebody and not being able to connect to them no matter what the situation.
The title… it’s like how you feel with
your fingertips, he’s not able to connect, he’s not able to feel what’s there.
You’re all heading out on tour soon and
to SXSW. I’m curious, have you quit your day jobs yet? If so, where were you
Wise: That’s a
greatly-timed question. Me and Sergio quit our main jobs. I work at a record
store whenever I’m home and Sergio helps out at the record store too.
When did both of you leave?
was in November, right before we left for the West Coast [dates]. The day
Chris: Mine was
in October and his in early December.
Well, congrats to both of you.
Wise: The jobs
were all pretty lenient for a while, but the way this year’s going to be… we
were gone all of October, the first two weeks of December, we’re going to be
out the last two weeks of February, SXSW and hopefully more after that. It
doesn’t make sense for a lot of jobs to keep you, and that’s the reality of