Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild— felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
As titles go, Churches into Theatersis an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
Boris — whose repertoire includes everything from heavy metal to pop to art punk — may hail from Tokyo, but its roaring sound is rarely lost in translation. The Japanese trio has been churning out solid tunes for nearly 20 years, at first through their own label (the hilariously named Fangs Anal Satan) and more recently on stoner-metal label Southern Lord.
The band made its first big splash stateside with the release of 2005’s critically acclaimed “Pink” and carried that momentum forward with four studio albums from 2006 to 2008 and an eruption of new material in 2011 that made its way onto three full records: “New Album,” “Heavy Rocks” and “Attention Please.”
Boris has steadily toured the U.S. for well over a decade — including a major gig supporting Nine Inch Nails in 2008 — and it’s right in the midst of its latest run of dates, which included an appearance at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin on Sunday.
The band makes a stop tonight at the ACM@UCO Performance Lab, 329 E. Sheridan, the site of the former Green Door. Through an interpreter, drummer Atsuo took the time to talk about being workaholics, mixtapes and Boris’ label as a Japanese heavy-metal act.
OKS: You guys have been playing together for almost 20 years now. How have you evolved and improved the most over that time?
Atsuo: We've just been learning who we are and how big we are in terms of what our capacity is. Who you are and who you think you are. We've learned a lot, but at the end, we just realize who we are.
OKS: You released three studio albums this year. What led you guys to wanting to cram that much new music into a single year rather than spreading it out?
Atsuo: We are just being total workaholics. After tours, we always just want to get back to the studio and start recording. We had a tour before this big American tour, and we've already made 20 songs between them. It's just how we roll.
OKS: What about each of these albums are you most proud of? What do you think you did best on each one?
Atsuo: There was an unreleased album, in our minds, that was meant for 2009. That album led to the two albums — "Attention Please" and "Heavy Rocks" — and "New Album" was a sort of combination of those two. We wanted the audience to hear between the lines or albums or songs the different arrangements. If the audience can enjoy the difference and decide what they like better and ask questions about that to themselves, that was our goal.
Music doesn't have answers. The industry has always been trying to give answers, like we are trying to do this or trying to do that. Listening to bootlegs and mixtapes or different sources of the same song, the definition of the song expands between the takes. Everybody should open their mind to realize that sometimes there is no answer and the searching itself is the fun thing, not knowing the answer. That's what we were trying to express through those albums.
OKS: You are probably best known for your heavier, metal stuff, but you play a lot of different of styles of music. What keeps you from committing to any one genre and what makes you want to explore those different sounds?
Atsuo: To us, the genre, the word itself, it's whatever. We don't care. It's just a word. Every time we come to America, we are described as a Japanese heavy-metal band, and we're like, “We don't care.” It's whatever they want to call us. Putting someone into a genre is the easiest thing you can do.
OKS: How are the crowds in Japan and the U.S. different?
Atuso: We strongly feel that American culture is nothing like what we have in Japan. There are not that much support systems to do touring there, and the venues are just completely different. It's a club where you go listen to the music, but no one hangs out or drinks or socialize in the club at all. That difference is making touring in America much better.
OKS: What sort of plans do you have for the near future in terms of new music?
Atuso: We're confused with how the industry is taking us. These days, people think music is free. Maybe that has to change or there's no more physical records or anything like that. We'll just have to see.