A Chat With: Oil Boom
In just over a week, Dallas's Oil Boom will release their new album, Terribility via Dreamy Life Records. Leading up to the October 20th release date, the group unleashed the album's lead single "Earful"....which is a total earful of goodness that emulates the sound of some of your favorite rock bands; think a hybrid of The Black Keys, Silversun Pickups and a dash of Beck. To celebrate the new music, we talked to vocalist and guitarist of the group, Ryan Taylor. In our Q&A, Taylor hilariously talks about the creative process behind the new album, the long and winding backstory of the band's origin, their favorite new artists, and even some personal milestones. If you want to know what part Chili's menus, bongos, and Craigslist played in the band's history and songwriting style, then tune in below and get to know Oil Boom!
ANCHR Magazine: When did you all start making music individually, and what brought you all together eventually?
Ryan Taylor: It’d probably take a Ken Burns length miniseries to accurately map out our weird band trajectory. But suffice it to say, it’s been a long and at times, hilarious chronology. Our situation is a bit unique in that none of us (save Zach, our new guitar player) are from Texas originally. I’m from Oklahoma City, Dugan is from St. Louis area, and Steve is from Lodi, California (zinfandel capital of the US). Dugan and I first met through Craigslist at the start of 2010. Yes, you read that correctly. Craigslist. In the "Musicians Wanted" section or "Casual Encounters", who can say really? When the group started it was just guitar and drums and we had another dude Brian that just sang. But Brian left after our first EP, at which point we enlisted Steve to play bass and I took over the vocal duties. It’s more or less been the same since about a year and a half ago when we added another guitar, first with Jordan Richardson (who engineered our album) and then Zach, starting in September of last year. You could also say FATE brought us together. And by FATE, I’m referring of course to Foghat Appreciation Team Exercises.
AM: What was the process like for writing and recording your new album Terribility?
RT: This is the longest amount of time we’ve ever spent recording an album, but that’s almost misleading, since it was spread out over basically three different periods of time, so just the amount of time involved was notable I guess... and boy I just used the word time a lot. We also tried a few new things in terms of the writing and “fleshing out of the songs.” Everyone was given a pair of bongos and a notecard and asked to come to practice with at least one hummable melody.
AM: How does Terribility differ from your last album Red Metal, in terms of songwriting and sonic structure?
RT: I wouldn’t say it’s been all that much different of an approach. There are definitely some heavier songs on this album, which is a little bit of departure from our previous releases. Our engineer, the aforementioned Jordan Richardson, did a great job at pointing us in different directions if we landed on a particularly cool sound by accident. Just as an example, at some point during the recording, Steve purchased an 80's BC Rich Warlock bass and its tone proved to be particularly inspiring. We used it on a track called “By Degrees” and it definitely changed the whole framework of the song. Maybe not for the better, but it changed it.
AM: Where did you find yourselves drawing musical and nonmusical influences from for the newer songs?
RT: We drew upon a lot of musical influences for this album, but I would argue that it was actually the non-musical influences that were more important. A Chili’s menu, a Facebook advertisement for Ninja Dating, a piece of gum stuck to another piece of gum. That sort of stuff is what fueled our obsession with Terribility.
AM: What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learned about each other and yourselves in your years of being in a band?
RT: That’s a really great question. I’d say we’ve learned how to hold each other accountable without completely being overbearing assholes about it, or at least, this week we have anyways. I think most people tend to view bands as some sort of non-stop beer-fueled concert party train that doesn’t have to adhere to the structure/demands imposed by other non-creative pursuits, when the reality is, it’s no different than any other office environment. You’re going to have moments that make communication next to impossible, but you just have to fight through that in order to get things done. We all make each other mad because that’s what humans do when confined in close spaces for long periods of time, but we also love each other and root for each other and laugh at each other’s bad jokes and bad haircuts.
AM: What are some of the best kept secrets of the Dallas music scene? Any bands or venues we should all know about?
RT: There are so many rad bands in Dallas/Ft. Worth, I can’t even start naming them or I’ll never stop. That might seem like a copout and it totally is, but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night without the fear of some misguided local musician hurling a Squier Stratocaster through my window.
In terms of venues, there is a new one in Ft. Worth called MASS that Steve, our bass player, is part owner of. It’s a great venue that genuinely caters to musicians. And not just as an afterthought. They actually have a spot for you to load in your gear! It seems like there are fewer and fewer of those places around anymore. And in no way was I forced to write any of this.
Maybe the best-kept secret just in general is that Dallas is not Austin, but Austin is really close, so you can have it both ways or your way or whatever that Burger Hut slogan is.
AM: What are some of your favorite songs and albums of the year so far?
RT: The World’s Greatest American Band by White Reaper and Need To Feel Your Love by Sheer Mag are two incredibly good rock albums that came out this year. We all seem to be into those and feel some kinship with those groups because you can tell they also have probably listened to “The Boys Are Back In Town” probably more times than Thin Lizzy has.
For a song, let’s go with “Get In My Car” by BRONCHO.
AM: You’ve got a few Texas concerts coming up, but any plans for a tour once the record is out?
RT: Yes indeed! We’ll be out there in a non-descript white rental van in front of various American Waffle Houses/Guitar Centers at some point in the very near future. Stay tuned!
AM: You’ve had your music in some pretty big name films and TV shows. If you could have another song placed in any TV show, which show would you pick and why?
RT: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but I would be majorly stoked to have one of our songs in Master of None or Atlanta. The music supervision on those shows is incredible.
I’ll approach this from another angle though; what show in history we would like to have our music featured in? If that was possible, I’d have to say ALF would be a top contender. I imagine a plot line in which ALF eats what he thinks is the Tanner family cat but what is actually a stuffed animal decoy. Slowly he realizes he’s been duped so he tricks the Tanners by pretending he’s been paralyzed by eating the decoy. Gradually, the Tanners figure out he’s faking and at the end, over one of our songs, Willy explains that deceiving people is wrong, even if you were deceived first. ALF owns up to his mistake and promises never to eat another cat, real or fake. The last thing you hear before the credits though is young Brian Tanner asking from the hallway, “Hey, has anyone seen the cat?” Was that too specific?
AM: What else are you looking forward to this year besides the new record?
RT: I just had a daughter so I’m pretty pumped about that, mainly because, I finally have someone to indoctrinate with Thin Lizzy lyrics and ZZ Top inside jokes. She was born on Madonna’s birthday though, which means she’ll probably have a Madonna phase at some point, and Madonna will be 75 by then and it will just be weird for all of us.
Other than that, we’re just looking forward to still being able to play music at this age. Collectively, we’re 144. That’s older than Madonna!