Friday , April 19 2024
"What we really are is a country band with a twang-rock problem." - Chris Patterson, Leaving, TX

Interview: Chris Patterson, Lead Singer Of Leaving, TX

This interview has a back story to it.

One day, about two months ago, I get an email from a guy who introduces himself as a member of a band called Leaving, TX. He says he had seen some of my band reviews and interviews and would like to meet me when he plays a show in my hometown soon. Well, I had two reactions: 1) I'd never received an email from a singer inviting me personally to a show (although it turned out the show was at a local bar) and 2) If this band was going to go all the way from Texas to Hagerstown, Md. (en route to a show in Pittsburgh, PA) the least I could do is drive 10 minutes to check them out and meet the guy.

So I went and realized a few things at once: I was one of only maybe five people there (not including employees) who seemed to know the band was even coming. But the place rocked, and soon everyone was having a great time. I also realized these guys were not from Texas at all. A relationship begun with a lie! Oy! Turns out they are from the Washington D.C. area.

But they did a great show and the singer is a gentleman. Their two albums – 100 Miles To Sunday and Anywhere On Good Roads – are both great.

I will let this interview tell the rest of the story.

How would you describe your style of music? 

I've called it Alt Country and Americana to different people.  What we really are is a country band with a twang-rock problem.  We've actually begun to use this on our website and just plastered it on our trailer.  In reality I've shaped our songs from what I hear coming out of Austin, Texas.  I've always been a fan of songwriters and bands like Joe Ely, Jon Dee Graham, and Reckless Kelly and have molded my writing around what I listen to. Our music takes on a bit of a non-traditional approach mainly due to the background of the band members.   

Chris Patterson, Songwriter/Vocals/Rhythm Guitar: My musical passion comes from Austin, Texas.  I've been blown away on more times than I can count watching bands at The Continental Club, Saxon Pub, and Antones.  Their always seems to be an honesty in the music that is getting played that seems to get missed on Top 40 Country Radio.   

Garry Cecil, Bass: Garry hails from Edinburgh, Scotland.  His roots are in traditional Country and Bluegrass having played for years with an upright bass.  He keeps the band in check with our arrangements, tempos, etc. 

Thor Smith, Drums: Thor is from Halden, Norway and started drums at a very early age.  He comes from a rock background which is where he cut his chops in the early years.  He brings a different dynamic to the band than a straight up country drummer would.

Andrew Buhler, Pedal Steel and Lead Guitar: Andrew comes from Miami, FL.  He is a dedicated student of his instrument and is just as capable playing a Jimi Hendrix lick as he would a Roy Buchanan.  His style is unique because he is so well versed in so many different styles of playing and you can hear it especially in our live shows. 

When I saw you live you did two excellent covers: The Gourds cover of Snoop Doggy Dog's "Gin and Juice" and a Cars song. Do you often incorporate covers into your live shows?

Currently the band has over 40 original songs and about 15 covers we could play.  When we go into new markets where we don't already have a relationship with an audience we typically will play more covers just to keep the audience interested. We really prefer to play our own tunes, but occasionally we find a cover song that we sort of "make" our own.  Something that the audience might be caught off guard by which would be why “Gin and Juice” and “Just What I Needed” found there way into our set the night you caught us. 

We've done a mean cover of "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix and have been known to play "Crazy Train" on a few occasions. We also have a couple songs that we play out of respect to the bands that did them originally.  We have a couple Old 97's tunes we know as well as a few Drive By Truckers tunes.  We play these songs because we ourselves are fans.  Since our inception we've opened every show with a version of "Folsom Prison" done in a minor key. It has just seemed to fit.  I'll try to get you an mp3 of it. 

You also sang one or two by Ol' 97s – am I right to assume you, like me, are fans of that band

Totally correct!

Now speaking of Texas bands… you are not a Texas band. Am I alone in assuming from your name that at least one member is from Texas. Was that accidental confusion? Also please explain the band name.

Leaving, TX was named out of respect for the great music and musicians coming out of Texas.  None of the members of the band are from Texas or have even lived there.  Chris has spent a great deal of time there thought in Dallas (former day job), Austin (music), and Mc Allen (Grandparents).  The band and the name was born in September of '04 on the runway of the Austin airport on a plane bound for Baltimore where Chris was, you guessed it…"Leaving Texas."

I had spent 10 days down in Austin watching and playing music. Totally absorbed in the music scene.  I had gone done about a week early for the Austin City Limits Festival to do some networking and some playing and then catch the festival on the tail end.  After the first day at the festival I sold my passes and ended up spending my nights in the clubs where all kinds of magic was going on with the musicians.  As I was leaving I decided it was time to put together the band that could play the songs that I had been writing and as I was thinking about what to call it I thought about how sad it was to be leaving Austin with such a fun music scene and heading back to DC.  Leaving Austin soon became Leaving Texas and then I decided to make the name look more like a city and LEAVING, TX was born.  When asked what part of Texas we are from I usually respond with "Mythical, Tx," a little town just outside of Austin.  No one has questioned me yet!  

What question do you wish you'd get asked?

Would you guys be interested in a deal with a major label?  (From the A&R guy with the major label).  Probably not what you were looking for, so let me tell you about how the band got started as it is a story of "destiny." I got home on Monday night from Austin after deciding to start Leaving, TX.  That night I told my wife I was ready to start a band, play my songs, and focus on the style of Austin.   I had no idea of who I was going to bring into the band at that time or even if my songs were good enough, but I had decided to move forward. Step back in time about two years to a house party where I was playing solo because the guy that was to play lead with me didn't show up. 

In the audience I see a tall fellow watching me close so I can tell he is a guitar player.  In between songs I ask him if he plays and he responded, "Yes…a wee bit."  I explained that I had brought another acoustic and asked if he would like to sit in with me.  He responded with a thick Scottish accent, "Yeah I think so…I was just waiting to see if you were any good first.”  This was my first meeting with Garry Cecil.   He proved to be a pretty amazing guitar player and I was very impressed.  After playing we had a few beers and talked about music.  Both of us were in bands but were surprised to find out we lived about 8 blocks from one another. We promised that we would get together to jam sometime since we were so close.  

Two years pass and I've been home from Austin two days when I hear a knock on my door and it is the guy who hosted that party I played at.  He had a piece of paper with Garry's phone number on it.  He had run into him, and Garry explained that he was no longer in the band he was in and was looking to do something original and had liked playing with me.  I called Garry and the next night I sat him down and played him a dozen or so new songs that I had written and explained the concept of "Leaving, TX."   He was in.  Then he told me he was going to play bass in the band as he was a much better bass player than guitarist. I had no idea. Friday rolled along and out of the blue I got a call from my old drummer, Thor Smith. 

Thor and I had played together for about a year in a jam band called Grooved Pavement.  It was something that never really took off but was a good release for a few of us.  I hadn't spoken to Thor in over a year.  He said he hadn't been playing much and wondered what I was doing musically, as he always liked the original songs I had brought to the band.  We had a drummer. 

Andrew was little harder to find.  I had placed an ad on Craigslist for a guitarist and we had a good half dozen over to play with us.  After the first two we stopped inviting them over for rehearsal and instead invited them over for a few songs.  The process was a bit painful.  I saw a post in early November for a songwriter who was forming his own Alt Country band in the area. 

With visions of Wilco or Jayhawks I sent him an email to see if he might be interested in stepping in to our project and hoped he had some lead guitar skills.  He was set on being the only songwriter in his band, but recommended to me to contact Andrew Buhler who was a strong guitarist and was just beginning to learn pedal steel.  Andrew had done some session work for him. I emailed Andrew, and week later he showed up to practice with us.  He was in the band before the first song ended. 

What are you working on next?

There are a couple of things going on…  We've been working with an agent now out of Austin that is getting us some bigger and better gigs.  We are now also on the "radar" of a local DC agent that has taken an interest in us.  Hopefully this is going to lead to some more exposure in even bigger venues regionally.    

We are currently in discussion with a promotion/tour company in the UK  to set up a two week spring tour. The band is working through about 20 original songs to find the 12 or so that need to be on the next CD.  We will likely begin recording in January at the same studio that did disc #2. Chris is currently working on a solo CD which is much more Singer-Songwriter driven.  There has been some interest from Nashville in a couple of tunes that I wrote and I've started some demos of them to get out there and I think it might lead to a full blown more acoustic disc.

For more information you can check out the band's Web page.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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