On Saturday January 30, Harvey McLaughlin and the Bottomfeeders (almost a month and year after becoming a band,) will debut their first 7” LP titled “Dragon’s Breath”, with the help of Lost Records, alongside notorious honky-tonk punk band Hickoids and Javier Escovedo from the veteran West Coast Chicano punk the Zeros for a night that tips a hat to fundamental rock n’ roll.
“It’s one of those things where I already had the songs written.” Harvey McLaughlin told Sobre Sound surrounded by the Bottomfeeders in the back room at the Mix. Harvey had already worked with most of his bandmates in other bands he has in the city, such as the Hares where drummer Mike Chia had played trombone and Juancho Aquirre, bassist in the Sandworms. They later added other Bottomfeeder’s guitarist, Trevor Schultz who had actually been McLaughlin's replacement in a high school ska band he was in.
What is most impressive about this band is their ability to trust each other’s influences. They all come from different musical backgrounds and styles, yet are completely open to each other’s taste. For instance, a trip to a METZ concert for an old soul like McLaughlin had mentioned, they each play on each other’s tastes in music to create something versatile.
Joking around, McLaughlin stated, “Look, if we were going to rob a bank, I would trust these guys. Like one is the getaway car, he’s reliable, he’ll be there. This guy handles the alarms, this guy watches the door for cops and I’ll do all the talking. They can do anything.”
Chia recalled when McLaughlin first came to him with the songs and the notion for the Bottomfeeders, “It was just some guitar, tambourine and some lyrics. It was all very root-Americana.”
“When the three of us first started getting together and playing songs, real quickly they stopped being so rootsy based and they started to get my straightforward rock n' roll,” Harvey explained. However those prototypes were lost in translation the more the band came together and brought their own styles to the table. “I started writing more to our strengths as a whole. More rock ‘n’ roll-ish, punk-ish, metalish... lots of ish,”
When they wanted to add another guitar, a few names were thrown around and a chance encounter with Trevor at a show where River City All Stars and the Hares were on the same bill completed the band. The chemistry is undeniable.
“I joke around I put together the greatest ska band that doesn’t play ska music,” Harvey said despite not being a fan of the genre.
When they mix all their qualities, they get the base of rock n' roll, much like how you mix all the colors to create white. “We just want to try everything,” Juancho said, “it’s a kitchen when we get into the practice spot really.”
Though Harvey provides the preliminary underlines of the song, he says his band always turns it into something it’s not…in a good way. The sound depends on the mood and the different influences that happen to be bouncing around at the moment.
At this point, he had turned to Juancho and said “I remember at one point you apologized to me and said ‘Dude, I’m so sorry if this isn’t what you intended it to be’ and I said, ‘That’s not a bad thing, it’s a great thing.’”
The title track has elements of 50's rock n roll that incorporate keys of country. "A little dragon's breath is going to burn the whole place down," is something someone would put on the jukebox at a malt shop.
"Night Owl" is a little harder to swallow, punk angst and manic 70's guitar riffs as "Splash Page" almost has metal qualities with how fast the tempo is and how hard the guitars are strummed.
“I’m very prickly about how we record. I don’t like doing track by track. There’s something too sterile about the process, a lot gets lost.” McLaughlin explained. “I like getting the sound of a bunch of dudes in a room together-very little over dubs. We try to preserve as much of that as we can."
That’s when Tommy Munter of Low Light Studios, who the guys refer to as the fifth member of the band, came in and made all their dreams come true as he showed them all his secret tweaks to get the format and quality of sound the Bottomfeeders were after. Though they knew it wasn’t a cost effective method, it was a goal the band all had mutually, to be on vinyl.
“As you get older it just becomes this thing where you just want to leave cool shit behind,” Harvey explained. “I want someone to find this in the dollar bin.”
If an LP release of dragonic proportions isn’t enough to get you to Hi-Tones, perhaps the rest of the bill is.
Hickoids are an internationally known heavily Texas sounding punk band that have called Austin/San Antonio home while touring the world and making rock ‘n’ roll history pioneering their genre for over the past 30 years. Unfortunately they recently lost their guitarist Davey Jones to cancer. The music community deeply mourned his loss.
Also celebrating a release of his second solo album will be Zeros founder/guitarist/vox Javier Escovedo returning to San Antonio just a few months after the Rock n Roll Brunch. His latest project titled "Kicked Out of Eden" released earlier this month and is also one of those sighs of relief that certain type of rock n roll still exists as a relic from the 70's.
If you’ve uttered the words, “Rock n’ Roll isn’t what it used to be,” in the past few months. Come out, it’s still around. $5 at the door. Starts at 11 p.m.