After ransacking the Austin music scene in 2005, with blues-driven gunpowder and Brit spit, it seemed that lead-guitarist and singer/songwriter Glynn Wedgewood and his pond-hopping mates in IV Thieves were poised to be the heirs-apparent to the “throne” of the Live Music Capital of the World.
And then 2 years later, faster than you can say, “beans-on-toast”, Austin’s favorite adopted sons, like the thieves for whom they were named, slipped out the back door and they were gone.
4 years on and several tunes later…
On a cool, Tuesday evening in January in Austin, Texas, its “Free Week”, and the music faithful have turned out in droves to participate in this first-of-the-year, no-cover phenomenon. As every bar from Red River to Congress experiences the highest foot traffic it will see until March, a small upstairs room on the corner of 6th and San Jacinto called The Parish is no exception. Known amongst fans and musicians alike for it’s impeccable sound and intimate feel, tonight it plays host to a smartly-dressed, 5-piece band who are lightning-charged to rip it down like a wrecking ball smacks a wall.
As they furiously race to the end of the last tune of a blistering set, a familiar ginger-haired Geordie leading the charge flashes a fiery glance towards the audience as he skulks ever closer to the front of the stage. Tightrope walking the edge for what seems like an age, he suddenly drops himself down into the audience, and offers his precious cherry-red 335 to the strangers below, who are ready and waiting to see him willingly sacrifice it all in the name of the song.
No sooner do his boots touch the ground than the crowd quickly forms a circle around him, their collective breath hanging heavy in the air, looking for a front row seat to what comes next, as they watch him bare-knuckle threaten and throttle his guitar in an effort to give every last ounce of it’s sound to them.
And when the soul of the four on the stage finally meets the man on the floor, and the five reach the sonic crescendo of one, through the feedback static and the pounding of the drums you can feel the heart of Austin music skip a beat.
And if you look closely, you can see a phoenix screaming out the truth as it rises from the ashes.
It is indeed.
Born in a small town just southwest of Newcastle, England (“that’s where the beer comes from”), and relocating to Austin in 2005, Glynn Wedgewood has made a career out of layering lyrically poignant tunes with massive riffs and irresistible, on-stage charisma. And while his penchant for the song has resulted in such career highs ranging from opening slots for The Pretenders and Oasis, to the co-founding of a record label (Monolathe Recordings), self-admittedly, his greatest musical accomplishment thus far is STEREO IS A LIE.
One week after their performance at The Parish, and exactly one month before the release of STEREO IS A LIE’s self-titled, first full-length offering, a more mild-mannered Wedgewood trades giving guitars life-or-death ultimatums for a seat and a chat with EG15M about his life in Austin, some of his favorite local bands, the state of making music today and his unabashed, barely-contained excitement for his band’s debut record.
Go on then, Andy Carroll. Around these parts, Newcastle’s got a new favorite son.
When did you first start playing music?
I was probably about 16 when I first started making a racket. I started off playing drums and then switched to guitar. It’s pretty tricky to write a melody on a drum kit.
Who are some of your musical influences?
There are just too many to list, I tend to be inspired by certain elements from artists though I might not necessarily be ‘into them’. A few bands that have inspired me over the years are: Constantines, These New Puritans, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, The Meters, Sigur Ros, The Smiths, Von Bondies, These Animal Men, Portishead, The Bees, Suede, Longpigs, The Small Faces, The Raveonettes, Super Furry Animals, Stevie Wonder, The La’s, Six By Seven, Interpol, Led Zeppelin, Gillian Welch, Patrick Wolf, Tim Buckley, Mansun.
For all of those who don’t know the story, how’d you end up Austin?
I used to play in a band from the UK called IV Thieves. The band’s US label, New West Records, had offices here, so after spending a while in the city working on demos, we decided to stay and record an album. By the time we had completed the album, all but one of the members were involved in relationships here in Austin, so everybody decided to relocate.
After that relocation from the Nottingham/Newcastle area to Austin, in what ways did you find it most difficult to adapt?
Apart from not being around my close friends and family, there wasn’t that much to it. It all felt very much like an adventure, probably because it was. Austin was very welcoming, so it wasn’t too hard to settle in.
photo by John Pesina
How much time elapsed between the Thieves break-up and the forming of STEREO IS A LIE?
A year or so maybe? That project officially ended in 2007, and I believe SIAL first played right at the end of 2008, but we didn’t start playing regularly until 2009.
I know we didn’t have anyone to play drums until three weeks before the first show!
How did you meet with your current line-up?
Pretty much all through friends. No crazy Craigslist stories I’m afraid.
Had you already been working on material for SIAL while you were in IV Thieves?
I was certainly working on material that I never thought would work with IV Thieves. For instance, I was messing around with a lot of synths towards the end of that project, something that IV Thieves never really touched upon.
At a time when the scene is overloaded with bands and names that get wilder and wilder, how did you settle on “STEREO IS A LIE”?
Believe it or not, I woke up from a dream one morning with the statement stuck in my head. I thought it would a great band name, so I immediately went to Google. Oddly enough the only reference was in an article on Moses Asch (Folkways Records) and his views on capturing performances. It was a great article, I agreed with 99% of what he said, so I was sold. Fortunately the lads were all into it and didn’t think I was a loon.
What is your favorite track on the new record?
That changes constantly. Right now I’m really into ‘What We Do’ and ‘Last Call’.
What is your most memorable moment making this record?
I’d say it was running one guitar into x3 amps, turning them all up and then having to wear ear defenders while we tracked the part. I always remember leaving the studio in the early hours of a cold January day as well. The bleak weather that morning seemed to be perfectly in sync with the feel of the album.
What was it like to work with Chris Cline (co-owner/recording engineer at Monolathe Recordings)?
Great. His attention to detail is phenomenal. I’m still going to take that Neve desk when he’s not looking though.
Who are some of your favorite bands in the Austin music scene at the moment?
In no particular order I’d say: Ringo Deathstarr, New Roman Times, dead black hearts, The Strange Attractors, She Sir, White Dress, Astronaut Suit, Motel Aviv, High Watt Crucifixers, The Boxing Lesson, BK & Mr. E. I could go on forever, there are a lot of great bands in this city.
What has been your personal high point in your career so far?
I tend not to look back too much, though touring with Oasis was a great experience. There’s so much still to be done. Saying that, I’m really happy with how SIAL’s debut has turned out and was chuffed once the record was completed. Now I’m just itching for it to be released!
Speaking of Oasis, when I read other reviews of SIAL, more than once I have come across that comparison. How do you react to people who pigeonhole you as just another Brit making rock?
I don’t really…it’s fairly accurate. Some journalists are lazy, some have to hit quotas and some are genuinely trying to help the music reach a certain audience.
What’s the biggest difference between British and American audiences?
I’m not sure there’s that much difference at all really. In general if a British band travels to America, the chances are the majority of the audiences are going to be pretty open-minded to them and vice versa. Making a trip across the pond goes a long way. If you compare somewhere like London to NYC it becomes pretty hard to find any differences…well, in my opinion anyway.
What do you do when you aren’t writing songs or playing shows?
I’m usually spending time with the family, teaching music, or checking out other live shows.
photo by Jenna Wedgewood
Where would you like to see this band in 5 years time?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Living on a farm somewhere in Europe, searching for truffles.
Many songwriters talk about how there is no real formula to writing a tune. Do you find this to be the case? When writing a tune, is there a “formula” that works best for you?
The second I feel I’m repeating myself, or being complacent, I run in the opposite direction. I definitely do not have a set formula or method, the thought of that just bores me.
From distribution to recording and everything in between, the landscape of music has changed so much in the past decade. What would you say is the biggest hurdle with which current musicians have to deal?
Being heard or seen. People are bombarded with new music every day and a lot of the time things fall through the cracks. It might be easier to get music to the masses these days, but so much still revolves around who has the biggest chequebook when it comes to promotion.
You mentioned earlier that you teach music, and in that regard, having experienced every facet of the process from student to stage, what would be your biggest piece of advice to a kid today who is picking up the guitar for the first time?
Love what you do. If you’re not passionate about something, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Glynn Wedgewood loves what he does and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Jenna who is a photographer and their 4-year-old son Owen.
STEREO IS A LIE’s 1st single “It’s Too Late” is out now, and the full-length, self-titled debut on Monolathe Recordings will be available everywhere on Feb. 8th, with an album release party on February 12th at 9pm at The Ghost Room on 4th & Lavaca in Austin, Texas.
If you’d like to peek behind the curtain and see SIAL in rehearsal mode, check them out earlier that same day (February 12th) from 3pm-6pm at the Arthouse on Congress, as they become part of “Rehearsal At The Astoria“, an ambitious installation by London-based artist Graham Hudson to rebuild the famous London Astoria theatre in the middle of downtown Austin.
title photo by John Pesina