Joshua Fleming wouldn't call his band's latest album life-changing, per se. He's still traveling. He's still playing shows all the time. And yet, something has changed since Vandoliers released their third album, "Forever," in February.
"I just played to 3,000 people in my hometown, and they were singing my song. So it's crazy," the singer and lead guitarist says.
With Dandelion Heart
WHEN — 9 p.m. July 11
WHERE — George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville
COST — $10
INFO — vandoliers.com, georgesmajesticlounge.com
Sure, not every show is 3,000 people -- yet. But Fleming says looking back on the last four years the Dallas/Fort Worth-based musicians have been playing together, they're starting to notice a distinct difference in how the rockers are received across the country.
Wide Open Country described Vandoliers' music as "the lyrical and instrumental foundations of Texas country greats delivered with an intensity usually reserved for punk rock bands." That genre-bending, plus Fleming's gritty vocals, has led to more than a few questions for the lead singer about how punk and country can mix -- and a plethora of comparisons in media to the effect of, "If the Pogues were from Texas instead of Ireland," (Americana Highways). But it's all the Vandoliers' own cowpunk sound, and the tunes are all Fleming's stories.
"My writing style is very autobiographical," he shares. "And that's what attracted me to the folk/country side of music -- because when I was playing punk rock, my writing never really fit in with that genre; I was just really hyper and aggressive. I kind of use music as my outlet right now. It's definitely my shrink -- it helps me with my anxieties and the low lows and the high highs.
"I think people would see through it if it wasn't genuine," he adds thoughtfully. "And that's another thing Rhett pointed out that he really liked about my writing is that he got to know me through those songs."
That Rhett would be Rhett Miller of fellow Texas alt-country rockers and Vandoliers' heroes Old 97's.
"Yeah, it's really weird to be friends with your favorite band," Fleming says a bit incredulously.
But Old 97's have been champions for Vandoliers since the beginning, he explains. They're the band who took Vandoliers out as openers for the latter's first tour. They got Vandoliers connected with their record label, Bloodshot, for which "Forever" is their label debut. And Miller has been a friend and mentor to Fleming since the early writing stages for this latest album.
"He really pushed me to dive in to the craft of songwriting, look at every different perspective, really question myself after a song's completion. It was really cool to have that buddy moment with somebody I look up to," Fleming recalls.
Where Vandoliers' sophomore release "The Native" was all about their Texas home, "Forever" was fueled by life on the road, Fleming says of digging into the songwriting. But their sound -- described by The Boot as "what may be one of the most interestingly cohesive sounds in decades" -- was formed by their roots, and it's here to stay.
"I lived next to a mariachi band when I was living in Dallas. The Texas country stuff is because we're from Texas. The punk rock stuff is because we're not from the middle of nowhere. We are an amalgamation of our region, and we can't get away from that."
NAN What's Up on 07/07/2019
Print Headline: More Cowpunk