This Is Albatross

INTERVIEW: TEXAS IS THE REASON - GARRETT KLAHN

Published April 10, 2012

Tell me about how you got into Texas? Take me all the way back...

Well, I’m sixteen, living in Buffalo and I’m putting on hardcore shows. I’m in a band, a shitty hardcore band. But I end up becoming friends with like one of the bigger promoters in Buffalo as early 90’s hardcore goes. We were lucky we had a lot of 'the greats' come through because if they were coming from Canada or if they were coming from Cleveland and on the way down to the city, Buffalo was pretty much on the way. So we had Dag Nasty, Chain of Strength, Verbal Assault, Slapshot, Soulside...you know, all the fucking greats luckily came through. I went to all those shows and became friends with like the main promoter guy. So my buddies and I took some notes from him and ended up putting on our own shows. I guess that was at the end of 1993, maybe 1994, I met the guys in Endpoint and Split Lip. They'd come to Buffalo and we put them on one of the shows. At that time...you know, I grew up with all the guys in Snapcase and they technically called me their tour manager, but keep in mind I was sixteen years old and I just had gotten a license so I don’t know what I was capable of managing...period. But we did a tour and we got stranded. Our van died in Lebanon, Indiana at the Dollar Inn for nine days with no money, no gas, the van was completely broken. The night before we had played in Bloomington with Split lip and Endpoint. So that was the night that I kind of met all of them like they would sit at my house in Buffalo and I put on a show with them and I knew them but the show in Bloomington was the night that we all kind of got 'reconfigured.' I connected with the Snapcase guys but it was the first time that I met other people that I connected with on a different level. That was a very long winded story short...We were stranded at that hotel, I became good friends with the guys in Split lip and I ended up moving to Indiana. And I lived in Indianapolis and Louisville and I kind of bounced around a little bit because of a girl...all because of a girl.

 

Of course...

Always. She was in Indiana and then she moved to Louisville so I followed her to Louisville. And you know I spent some time there and then she moved to Baltimore to go to school so I was like, “Well, fuck it, I don’t have any reason to be here anymore.” So I went home to Buffalo and I would go visit her in Baltimore. On one trip to Baltimore, I decided to stop in New York City to meet up with a pen pal, as much as that makes me seem like the fucking decrepit old man, and it was Norman, from Texas. He said that him and his friends Scott and Chris had started a band and they were looking for singers and was wondering if I was interested. So on a trip that I was making from Buffalo to Baltimore, I stopped in New York City at Penn station. Norman picked me up at Penn station and we went and ate some food at Angelica Kitchen where Scott worked (the bass player) and we talked about what was to become Texas Is The Reason. He gave me his spiel like what kind of band they wanted to start and what kind of—

 

What was that conversation all about?

Just a lot about like...influences. You know like a lot of the stuff that was like getting thrown around back then was like Superchunk and Seam...Drive Like Jehu. Shit like that was being thrown around. I guess they had tried Jeremy Chatelain [from Iceburn,] He ended up being the bass player for Jets to Brazil and he also sang for Handsome. He's from Salt Lake City. He was part of like a big Salt Lake City contingent that (kind of) descended on New York in the late 90’s. But I guess that didn’t work out. He [Norman] said, “Oh, we had this guy Jeremy Chatelain but it didn’t really work out.” And he said “Next time you come, maybe you can come practice with us, we’ll give it a shot.” You know, so he’s very loose. So that was like a three-hour lay-over. So he walked me back to the train and I got back on my train and I went to Baltimore. Little did I know that my girlfriend (at that time) had gotten another boyfriend so when I got to Baltimore, I was no longer her boyfriend. So I called Norman from a pay phone, again dating myself, and said, “Listen, this fucking trip to Baltimore is a bust, I’m coming back."  He’s like, “Good, we’ll go and practice tomorrow night.” So I went back to New York, and the next morning we drove to Long Valley, New Jersey and practiced and wrote “If It’s Here When We Get Back, It’s Ours” and “Dressing Cold”— those were the first two songs that we wrote.  Half of the lyrics from "“If It’s Here When We Get Back, It’s Ours” are all from—

 

Your crappy Baltimore trip? [LAUGHS]

Naw. Half of the lyrics are all from Chris Daly's parent’s house. He still lived at home. We were like, what 18, 19 or something like that? He had show flyers in his basement and the line 'I hate you all, but it’s for free.'  It was at the top of a flyer for a free show and the top said, “We hate you all, but it’s for free.” Dot, dot, dot. Then it had a picture of Refused. It was Refused and...somebody and somebody. But yeah...

 

That’s pretty funny. So did you always play guitar and sing?  A couple interviews I've done, a good source of someone's talent started with them needing to do play/sing out of necessity.

I didn't play and sing.  When Texas started and we wrote "If It's Here..."  and "Dressing Cold," I was not a guitar player. I was just a singer. I did not know how to play guitar. I played bass in a couple of bands when I was younger, like when I was like 16 or 17, A band called Copper and [other] Buffalo stuff...hometown shit.  I didn't play guitar until maybe the 4th orr 5th Texas practice. I bought a Telercaster off from somebody. I remember I was really jazzed because I bought Walter’s head from Quicksand. I just remember the case for the head said "Quicksand" on it. So we were just like...when it was like tour time, like front and center, the Quicksand head. Like "Yeah, mother fucker, we’re down."

 

So you did the EP and you did the full length for Revelation. Tell me about dealing with Revelation. Because I was doing an interview with Bunch, and he really taught me a lot about the post hard core scene, and how Jordan from Revelation, I think about 89 or 90 ended up moving to California.  I started making the connections [I hope] about how bands like Shades Apart got on Revelation so early.

Yeah, and that was the connection. Right?

 

That’s how, at that time,  the West Coast found the East Coast...

It truly was that kind of label, huh?  It was really all encompassing as far as like the country goes. Now that I think about it. It was full West Coast roster. But then again, in the beginning it was a full like Youth of Today, Gorilla BiscuitsSick Of It All, and all that shit. They were all on it.

 

So there’s a connection. And then you see all these little micro connections.

I grew up on Hardcore. My first love was the Smiths and stuff like that, but Hardcore was my first real connection to music. The Revelation thing...I mean I knew all those bands, but when I joined Texas Is The Reason is when I got 'hip' to the scene those guys were in.   They had the history with NYHC.  Norman was in Shelter, Chris was in Resurrection, Scott was in Fountain Head.  They had made their rounds...and they knew people.  In the grand scheme of things, they were from New York City as far as I was concerned. They grew up going to those shows. They grew up going to CB’s and The Roxy and shit like that. All stuff that I read about in Fanzine’s. But, it was very much their thing to be on Revelation and I didn't really know about it.  In those days, to me, it was like a Straight Edge label and I never really subscribed to that stuff. I could tell like it was like a thing for me. Like "Fucking hell, if we get on Revelation it's gonna be the jam." I wanted to be on Jade Tree. That was my thing because my favorite bands were on Jade Tree. You know they’re kind of like the rogue,off-center...they got some weird shit going on.   It’s not just that kind of hardcore and not Gorilla-Biscuits-kinda-shit. But I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s good that we got on Rev. I hadn’t much to do with it. It was all Norman because he was the business guy. He he dealt with all that shit. And I went with the flow.  But I remember when Jordan, back in '94, gave us $5,000. He gave us 5 grand. It went to Daly's house in Long Valley. I remember looking at that check going "What is this? Why do we have this money!  It doesn’t make any fucking sense!"   And I bought that head. Daly bought a drum set. We each bought Marshall Half Stacks. Scoots bought a bass.  Back then $5,000 could set a band up. But, you know, I only somewhat recently realized that it was a really good thing that we were on Rev.  We weren't a big band when we were together. I mean, like that’s the thing that a lot of people forget, you know? It wasn't until the last U.S. tour when we toured with The Promise Ring. There was a shitload of people at every show every night. But it was a double bill. A double head lining bill. And the Promise Ring, they were fucking huge.  We weren’t doing that bad, but we didn’t know how big we really were or anything like that.  I can honestly say that, at that point, our egos hadn’t gotten the best of us. It was really just, "Oh, shit there’s some more people at our show tonight. That’s great!" And we never made any money.  Ever!  We only started making money in 2000/2001, when we started getting royalty checks. We never made a fucking dime. So it was never about the money, obviously. As far as like the connection to Revelation, I never made it. Only until somewhat recently I can see that they really did nurture that band and  when the hype died down after we broke up. They could have easily dropped that record and said, "You know what, it’s a catalogue number. Who gives a shit?"  But it still sells. I don’t know who’s buying it, but you know, God bless ‘em.

 

Is it weird to think that those records were so influential for so many people?

It’s more weird than anything I could ever describe to you Tommy.They we were without a doubt the best years of my life. Hands down. Mostly because, you know, you have like those years of innocence. It’s just luck on my part. It just so happened to coincide with me being in a band. We all know I wouldn’t be playing tonight (ed note: Interview took place before an acoustic 'Texas" show at The Court Tavern -- RIP.)  Atlantic/Pacific wouldn’t be doing shit if it wasn’t for Texas is the Reason.  I’m okay with that. You know it’s part of who I am.

 

What’s the official or not so official story of the break-up?

We broke up in the Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

 

That’s pretty specific. All right...

It was in July of 1997. We’d gone on tour for 2 months in Europe and at that point, we had definitely separated. There was 2 camps in the band. And by 2 camps I mean 3 of them and me. Which happens. You know, we started the band when we were young. But it ended, and it wasn’t pretty. It was a headlining tour in Europe and we had like a couple support bands and we were making some money.  We were going to go home and sign the typical late 90’s major label record deal. You do the math. It was like everybody else did in the late 90’s.  It might have set us up for the rest of our lives, you know. I remember, we were in a semi-circle and Norman was like, “This isn’t working out.” And Daly was like, “Nah, it’s really not.” Scott was like, “Yeah. Really isn’t fun anymore, is it?” And then Norman goes, “All right.”  Took out the money from the tour. So and so, so and so. So and so. So and so. That’s it. All right. Right before all that happened I gave our sound guy my first telecaster.  He'd become like the 5th member of the band.  It was like yellow, red, brown and black, tobacco Telecaster. He was the cool guy and we got along. He was the only guy who smoked weed on the bus with me. So we had  a bond. I was like, "You take it. You loved it!"  He would always tell me how much he loved that guitar.  He still has it. At this point, I had flown my girlfriend out. We were going to Paris for like a week to  hang out. They were going back home. He was just like, “That’s it. That’s it. We’re done. We’re done for sure.” All right. I’ll see you. And that was it. And we didn’t talk for – that was 1997. I don't know about them, but I didn’t talk to the majority of them so ‘til 2000.

 

So then you went on to New Rising Sons? How did all that come about?

Um, more late 90’s record label biz, I think. The noise that Texas made...I think the flame was fanned....

 

What’s Garret going to do next?

Exactly. I mean, I just like...I don’t want you to get me wrong. It’s just by default being the singer.  Simply by default. A guy who had previously tried to sign Texas, this guy David, ended up getting a really cushy job at Virgin. Long story short: Signed us to like a fucking ridiculous record deal. Like you know, we were talking about it on the train today [with Kevin, guitarist for New Rising Sons.] The bill was $300,000 for the record alone. Not the lodging. We lived there for 5 weeks. When we had gotten it done and they [the label] didn’t 'hear a single.'  So they sent us to The Magic Shop in Soho. Like this $1,000 an hour studio kind of place. And then we went to another place called Shelter Island, and they didn’t like those songs.  It was the classic, "We don’t hear single. We don’t hear a single. We don’t hear a single."  We finally got so sick of hearing it – it was like, "Fuck it. Who cares. This is over with." Money and drugs and all that stuff played a big part. But I think it was more of a record label thing. Like we were competing with Lenny Kravitz and Janet Jackson and shit like that. Like you know, we were vying for attention from the same A&R guy who signed us. The same guy signed Janet Jackson. You know, it doesn't compute.

 

Bunch and Sergie kinda said the same thing. The labels saying "You know, yeah, they're on the label with Missy Elliott. Where are we going to put these 'sh*tty' punk rock bands."

Jon definitely experienced that same shit.  They can kind of justify it with, "We’ll see what happens" or "We can nurture it for a little bit and see what happens."  But in the long run, Texas would have maybe made a major label record and that’s it.  That band was unto it’s time. We were not supposed to go longer than 2 years. I see that now. We would not have flourished. We would not have, you know, been on MTV. We would not have been doing like headlining the Warped Tour. We wouldn’t have done any of that shit.  So I think it’s a good thing that it ended. The New Rising Sons thing was crazy, cause we did make a really great record, but nobody’ll ever hear it.  They ended up shelving the record and it’ll never come out. Ever.  Kevin [from New Rising Sons] is here tonight. I may play one song for him tonight.

 

So, what happened after that?

Solea.

 

With Sergie?  When I was talking with him he was like, “I think me and Garrett are a good combination, but it isn't what Garret is.”  He said for him personally he listens to more of what Atlantic/Pacific is.  But he goes, I want to be in a rock band like Samiam or Solea.  And he really kind of , you could kind of tell in his voice that –

He was bummed...Sergie is a lot like Kevin.  Like me.  Sergie's my brother, you know?  I basically spend my formative years listening to Samiam. The Don't Break Me 10" and Billy...all that shit...When all my friends were listening to like Sick of It All and shitty Buffalo hardcore bands I lucked out and met the right people and knew about the Bay Area shit and I've loved Samiam my whole fucking life. The first time Texas toured Europe it was with Samiam.  We toured 6 weeks...and those motherfuckers had been there almost every year since 88.  They had like 7/8 years on us.  I look at that Samiam/Texas tour as my fuckin' college years.  They sold it out every night. They're still big there.  They went four months ago and they still sell out their tours in Europe. Sergie and I bonded back  in 1995/96 and kept in touch.  Everytime Texas went out to the West Coast I’d always stay with him. I don’t really remember how Solea started, but he was still living in San Francisco at the time and I had moved back to Buffalo. I had left the City and moved back to Buffalo. Ran out of money or something. I spent a year in San Francisco basically starting Solea with different bass players and different drummers.

 

Then you landed on Scott McPherson.

I’ve known Scott since the shows I used to book in Buffalo.  I booked Sense Field's first East Coast Show in Buffalo. They stayed at my mother’s house...like when I lived with my fucking mother’s.  So, basically, I met Scott when I was 15/16.  I’ve been friends with Jon and Scott since. Just by default, Scott had moved from Hawthorne in California to Los Angeles and Sergie moved from San Francisco down to L.A. Samiam and Sense Field used to play shows together so they started hanging out and we needed a drummer for a record and Scott was available.  He wasn’t like this shit-hot fucking drummer for hire like he is now.  He plays with Beck, She & Him, 9 Inch Nails and shit like that. He’s a serious guy now. Back then he was just enough of a schlub to play for Solea. So, you know, I got to tour with the guitar player from Samiam and the fucking drummer from Sense Field...and you know, those were two bands that were everything to me. And we did what we could. We did 2 records and a handful of tours. Didn’t play too much on the East Coast. Mostly West Coast. We went to Japan like 4 times. Somehow got really big there. Don’t know how that happened... Since then, I've opened up acoustic for the guys in Samiam.  Me, Sergie, Charlie and a bass player from Buffalo did 3 Solea songs.  We talked about trying to get something together again, but who knows...

 

I hope so. I didn’t find out about that until like a year or 2 ago. And same thing, it was just like, it seemed like an All-Star cast. How’d I miss this one!?

You think it would have done a little better.

 

What were some of the bands that, when you first saw them, your jaw dropped on the ground?

Promise Ring.  When we met the Promise Ring it was in Milwaukee at a...Ummm.  Promise Ring, they used to play at a gymnasium or at UWM. I can't remember.  It was 1994, maybe. 1995?  I didn’t know who they were. We didn’t know The Promise Ring. I don’t even think I knew who Cap'n Jazz was at that time.  We hadn’t made those connections yet. I don’t think their records had come out on Jade Tree and they were just like a Mid-West band at that time. I remember seeing them and just thinking "These guys are fucking amazing!"  Then we ended up doing that split with them.  And our last U.S. tour too. There was a band called Last Days of April. They’re from Sweden. Solea played with them in Amsterdam on our first tour in like 2000,  They are a great band. They sound like a mixture of Dinosaur JrRed House Painters and The Pixies.  They’re still together. They told us they were fans of Samiam and Texas, and and I was like "You must have gone above and beyond ‘cause you don’t sound anything like those 2 bands."

 

What are your plans for the future? Keep plugging away with Atlantic/Pacific?

Oh yeah. We definitely have another record in us.  John and I are going to do our best to get it out before the end of 2012. Somewhere in that same time frame, I'd like to do some sort of solo thing.  But basically I’m going to keep going until I’m either fat or bald. Tonight's a perfect example. I’m going to be playing songs that I wrote when I was 19 tonight. I’m 37!  The last time I looked on the internet there was like 44 people on the invite on FaceBook. The fact that there’s 44 people who even deem it worthy to use their mouse...use their finger to click the button that says "I'm going".  The fact that there’s 44 people that say that, it shows me that there’s no reason to stop doing it. I recognize now in my twilight years that people do connect with Texas.  I think it'd be a bum out if people couldn't see it.  You know, I know that I’ll never see My Blood Valentine.  I’m not comparing Texas Is The Reason to My Bloody Valentine, but just as an example.  There’s shit that I know I’m never going to see. But if there was some – like if there was a band that I could see live, even by one of the people that were in it, I’d be so fucking stoked to see it.  Life is too short, you know?

 

Well, let me ask you a question. And this is, this is something that happened to me a few years ago.  I'd gotten tickets to see Enigk solo in NYC.  So we go and the place seemed to me to be empty.  I'm a huge Enigk fan. He could fart into a microphone for 40 minutes and I’d –

...and you’d love it.

 

Oh, I’d eat it up, but just...not literally. [Laughter.]

Not literally.

 

I remember thinking it was depressing.  He's in a major 'hub' and he didn't pack the place.  It was a big room, but it still felt like there weren't enough people there.  What if he doesn't come back?!  Forward to two years later when Sunny Day did their reunion show at Terminal 5 (a much bigger venue,) and it sold out.  I got real angry at that show, and it's probably because I am a huge fan, because up to that point I wasn't even sure if Enigk would come to this coast again!

That was a really long story, but basically to ask...is there any anxiety, anger, sadness or whatever to play your stuff that you love to play and it's less of a reaction than something from your 'hit' band?

I know what you mean.  I don’t know. It’s hard because...

 

I 'get' when people say, "I’m not playing anything from that (old) band." I understand why some people feel that way...and the mental part of it.

It's hard because there’s people that may not be hip to what you’re doing now. Maybe they just know one certain part of it. To use Atlantic/Pacific, as far as something I’m doing currently.  I know if I played in New York City tomorrow night, with a bunch of promotion, there would be 150 people...at the most...on a good night. I would honestly consider that 'killing it.'

 

So what happened when you did the Texas reunion show?

That was a little different though. I think those reunion shows were as much for us as they were for the other people. It was way more of a nostalgia trip than it was anything, and we used the guise of a 10-year anniversary as an excuse to get together and play. It just happened to coincide with 10 years from the day we released that record. If I was a smart man I would have had Atlantic/Pacific stuff at the fucking stall at Irving Plaza, at the reunion show. You know. I would have had whatever band I was doing then laid out next to the fucking mountain of Texas is the Reason merchandise. I’m not going to hold it against anybody that knows who Texas is the Reason was and they don’t know who Atlantic/Pacific is. There's just so much out there that people have an option to listen to and look at.  I'm not banking on it.  I’ve never made money from music. You know. One time with him [Kevin] but we were on Virgin Records for a year.  I’ve never been lucky enough to actually make money from it. But if people deem coming to see me play a couple songs I wrote in 1995 rather than a song that I wrote in 2010 then it's more of a blessing then anything else. If they’re at a show where at Irving Plaza where there is 4,000 people. Or they’re here tonight where there’s 44. It doesn’t matter to me because I’ve lucked out! I have a job where I can fuck off whenever I really want to, so I work and I have enough money to do Atlantic/Pacific.  Fortunately we have toured exclusively in the red. We have some songs on TV for like 16 & Pregnant. The teen mom shit. We have like 4 songs on those shows.  We’ll make a couple hundred dollars every couple months. But any money that goes in goes right back to bills or whatever we have. Like rental cars from 2010 in Europe. Shit like that. It’s never been about that.