Hey Athens, Georgia – please spread the wealth… of bands that is. The college city holds no shortage of original rock music at the highest quality, but here we go again,add Houston in the Blind to the fold. Fronted by singer/guitarist Charlie Garrett, the band also features keyboardist John Watkins (Dead Confederate, Saint Pé), drummer Darren Dodd (Butch Walker, Ponderosa) and bassist Corinne Lee (Snowden). Their debut LP, Limbs—produced by Ponderosa’s Kalen Nash—is out Oct. 9.
The making of Limbs and the emergence of Houston in the Blind represent a phoenix-style rebirth for Garrett, who after more than a decade paying his dues on the bar-band circuit finally allowed the music he was creating to catch up with his muse. “I found myself with a batch of songs that were very different from anything I’d written before,” he says. “I’d been playing for years, and even though I’d grown as a person, I was still playing the kind of music I was listening to at 15 years old. It just didn’t reflect where I was at in my life. So I had to rethink everything. I wanted to challenge myself.
No longer caring whether he pleased the drunken college-town barroom crowd, Garrett began creating songs for himself and his own enjoyment, enlisting longtime friend Nash to help him make sense of the bold new music he was writing. “Kalen and I have actually known each other since kindergarten,” Garrett says, “so there was a lot of trust there. He took a hatchet to the songs—chopped them all up. I can’t say enough about what an amazing job he did steering the ship.”
The initial sessions for Limbs took place in August 2013. Between Garrett and Nash, they had enough studio gear to put together a mobile rig, and spent a week recording at Athens venue Normaltown Hall. There, they tracked three songs—“I Will Chase Your Ghost,” “Who Are You” and “Fire.” “From the beginning with this record, there was a mood and a vibe,” Garrett says. “We treated it like we were painting. We weren’t trying to chase perfection—the approach was, ‘Let’s do first takes on everything. No punch-ins. Just do a take—if it’s not good enough, we’ll do another.’”
Glide is proud to premiere “Blues Eyes” (below) off Limbs, a lush composition that shows the band’s more introspective side, awash with pedal steel/acoustic guitars and hush vocals. The challenge of taking on a bright and opportunistic theme and turning it into one of immediacy is a rarity these days, but Houston in the Blind has done it with the polished reflection of Dawes, Iron & Wine and Band of Horses.
“I always have a tough time writing about happiness and I guess that emotion generally doesn’t move me to write,” says Garrett. “That being said, on March 9, 2013 my daughter was born. I had written the guitar part, or intro piece, around that same time. I kept trying to figure out how to use it, but nothing was working. One day, when my daughter was still only months old, we were at home alone, I picked up the guitar to play for her. After awhile I started playing the intro piece to the song. The phrase “Good morning blue eyes, rise and shine,” came out during this and I finished the song later that evening when I had some time to myself.”
“When we recorded it, we started with just an acoustic track and layered things,” adds Garrett. “I came back and put the slide parts on it. [Producer] Kalen Nash [of Ponderosa] played bass and Darren Dodd [Butch Walker, Ponderosa] tracked the drums. At some point I started hearing some sort descending piano part happening during the instrumental section of the song. Then Kalen’s wife, Aslyn, came in after I explained what I was hearing, and she just nailed it. I love the way this song turned out.”
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
Oct 9 – Flicker Bar – Athens, GA
Oct 10 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
Oct 13 – The Pour House – Raleigh, NC
Oct 14 – Bourbon & Branch – Philadelphia, PA
Oct 15 – Matchless – Brooklyn, NY (CMJ)
Oct 16 – Velvet Lounge – Washington, DC
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