Hour Band sat down with UWeekly to discuss why they decided to debut their band during South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) and what to expect on their upcoming album, Only, which will be released on Feb. 2 at Stubb’s.
I read your bio that you debuted during SXSW 2008. Was that your first show ever?
Moshe Prystowsky: It was kind of funny for us. Well we debuted as a three-piece with just Barak, Karthik and I. We played one show which was called Presley Palooza. That was our first show. It was a benefit for a little girl who had cancer, and we raised a good bit of money. Then our first official show was during SXSW though. We had played one other show before SXSW 2008, but we kinda of have a family of artists here in Austin. Over the time that we’ve been here, we’ve become really good friends with Gary Clark Jr., Phranchyze, Electric Touch and a bunch of other bands, so every SXSW, we put on a little show just with our friends’ bands. In 2008, it was the first time we’ve ever done that, and we did it.
Well most bands don’t debut during SXSW. They practice and they play shows around Austin. Then they do an unofficial or official showcase. How did that come about?
MP: We (Manjeri and Prystowsky) went to school together, and then Barak moved down from Houston. We met and we started jamming. We started playing together. We all wanted to play music. None of us had been playing music that long. We’d all been in, like, one or two other bands. I think it just all came together because of how great Austin is. Karthik’s brother manages Gary Clark Jr. and Phranchyze, and he knew that we had been playing and jamming and writing songs and was like, “Hey, why don’t you guys play a show?” We were like, “Of course, we’ll play a show,” and it just happened to be SXSW.
Karthik Manjeri: We always played together as friends over the years. It was like, “Why don’t we play in a band and start playing shows now?” That was a perfect opportunity for us to get in front of people and start doing it. Go through the motions and feel the vibe of actually playing a live show. We were always practicing over the years, and that was just the opportunity to arise at the right time. It was like all right, let’s just go for it. Let’s do it.
How did Brian get thrown into this line up?
Brian Palmer: I was waiting tables in Houston, Texas and read this book by Michael Gladwell called Outliers, and it talked about practice mixed with opportunity. I was talking about life with a bunch of my tables. I didn’t know what to do. It was a really horrible day at work, and then Barak called me and he’s like, “I need you to come to Austin and play in our band.” Then all these lights flashed in my head. I was like, “All right, that’s what I need to do. That’s what I’m going to do.” So I quit my job, dropped out of school and moved to Austin. At first, I would ride the greyhound back and forth for two days every week. I lived three and a half days in Austin and went back home to Houston and then I finally slept on their floors for, like, two months.
KM: Brian actually played in a band with Barak in high school.
You’re releasing an album. I read that it’s the last part of a three-part series.
MP: Basically what we’ve done is we released two EPs up to now, and then this is the last part of it. As a band, we’ve all been playing together for about five years, and then Brian for the last year and a half. So this really caps off the beginning of our band. It captures all the moments of us going through our lives, whatever it was at those times. We got really lucky with this album. We recorded most of it at Public Hi-Fi, which is Jim Eno’s (Spoon) studio. We worked with Brad Bell, who was a great engineer, and he actually ended up helping us produce some of it. Then we got to work with great artists like Mark (Zuazua from) Mofoz to really put together the artwork for it. Our artwork is a great story. We couldn’t figure out what we wanted to do for the album. So we’re like, “Let’s just do everything and then take something from that.” We sat down with Mark, and for about two months, the four of us and Mark put together this collage. It’s literally six to seven hundred layers of everything we can think of that’s ever inspired us with different cities and, of course, Austin and the cities where we’re all from having representation, and all the people in popular culture that have influenced us. We did that and from there it became our cover, and all our inserts are heavily inspired by it. We decided to take this attitude that we want our music to be fun. When you come to our shows, we’re going to have fun. When we’re playing, we’re going to have fun. We wanted to figure out a way to make it so when you listen to our album, it was fun. So we have some fun games in there.
Is that’s why it’s in a DVD cover?
MP: Yeah, we just didn’t have enough space on the CD case to really get everything we wanted.
BP: It was too awesome to fit into one CD case. Gotta go DVD.