No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.
And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.
The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?
Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.
"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
I later caught up with synth player Ryan Engleberger and multi-instrumentalist Graham Ulicny to talk about the band’s hometown, extroversion and why its debut EP is named “Oblange Fizz Y’all.”
OKSee: What’s the music scene in Athens like right now?
Engleberger: Athens is really interesting, because there’s this constant tension between people like Graham and I, who are townies who moved there because there’s a lot to offer that isn’t related to the University of Georgia. Then there’s the U of Georgia side that’s Andrew and William. We actually represent a pretty good merger of townies and school kids.
Sometimes people who write for publications take sides and create divisions when there aren’t really any. But we all play with each other. It’s hard not to be influenced by one side, if you’re the other.
OKS: What’s each side specifically known for?
Engleberger: I think the stereotype is that the townies are a little weirder. Then the UGA side is frattier.
OKS: Explain the title of your EP. Because I don’t know how to pronounce or what the hell it means.
Engleberger: The title is actually a combination of a couple of ancient, now-defunct languages. And also English. You can find “fizz” in the Oxford English Dictionary. To fizz. To have fizzed. Having been fizzed.
Graham Ulicny: Desperately want to fizz. To fizz oblangley.
Engleberger: Right. “Oblangle” is a combination of words from ancient languages. There’s a symbol from a Mayan word, a Latin word and not Czech, but a precursor to Czech. There’s a combination of that, the deep linguistic studies we all do. I think mostly, it’s just from the sonic, train-of-thought conversations we have that don’t always make sense, but have to do with us making sounds and reciting things that we maybe have half-learned before. It just kinda came up.
OKS: Did you guys study linguistics in school?
Engleberger: I totally made that up. I studied Latin for a bit, I guess.
OKS: Why do you guys go full steam ahead into synthesizer-driven melodies?
Engleberger: I think the melody-heavy part is because of pop songs. Pop songs are all about melody. We wanted experimental elements, but mostly we want to record songs that people will listen to and enjoy, you know? We want to mess with them and take them out of their comfort zone, but in order for them to get into it, there has to be a good melody. Graham studied jazz, and it’s all about melody. A lot of really complicated stuff spins out of that, but that’s the basis.
Ulicny: It’s about a communal experience. There’s a lot of ways to enjoy music in a crowd, but we’re always looking to encourage people to be extroverted. And the best way to do that is to have something relatable, like a melody. And energy onstage.
OKS: And you guys are nothing if not extroverted, onstage.