The state of indie music in Texas was once crucial, but is now all but irrelevant to a band that is anything but new, and has lasted much longer than a year. I sat down with The New Year to discuss their long journey to today's music scene, and what got them there in the first place.
Bubba and Matt Kadane, brothers, started playing music together almost three decades ago, when they were kids in Texas. Their first live performance together was in 1982, playing a Utopia song at their local high school. However, similar to the later years of their previous band Bedhead, the group has no home base, instead pulling members and friends from all over the country, and embodying a more universal sound. Matt remarked "We haven't been a Texas band since the '90s."
The New Year formed later, in 1999. That's not to say TNY doesn't know where to call home. Bubba remarked, "[We're] perfectly happy to admit we've been influenced by Texas music, but we don't associate with any regional identity."
The group originally started as the two brothers, who grew up together with influences like Joy Division, The Clash, Minutemen, and others of the post-punk scene. Classics like The Who also provided a framework for their love of music. However, it's evident after seeing them perform that none of these things could have ever predicted their direction; they've merely served as building blocks to a structure that has grown to immense heights. From Bedhead to The New Year, the brothers have experienced countless amounts of musicians, styles, and talent. The result is something like a fine wine, aged with care. What is different about the band now? Simply put by Matt: "we are even better."
Influence played a part in the beginning, but since forming their current project, the brothers no longer consider themselves "music aficionados." On new music, Bubba remarked, "I don't even think about it."
Neither of them can remember the last time they purchased a record.
Contextually speaking, of course, they are not the typical music consumer. The boys spend most of their time with their own creative juices, and isolation from popular trends certainly helps the process. That's not to say they don't experience anything new; the band finds new acts they enjoy through their extensive touring. They "might not even listen to the record" of a band they like, simply because to them, the live scene is more engaging. "It's always been a good way"
Matt said, to find new music. We end up seeing more things live than hearing on the radio. Things were different when they were kids, shows in Texas would cost as little as two dollars. "It was low-risk"
according to Bubba, who remembered blindly going to random shows to check out new bands. Nowadays it costs five times as much to take a chance on a new act like that (on a good day). But with Myspace and the internet, the search is different for the typical music fan.
The New Year, specifically Bubba and Matt, aren't focused on that anyway. They spend most of their time "thinking about trying to create something unique."
That means a strong focus on where they've been musically, and what they can create from the depth of their familiarity. The music, for me, is deft and expansive, without being insistent; the kind of descriptions given to the great acts of the 21st century, spanning recorded music's history and popularity. In a world of five minute acts, it's comforting to see a band span decades with their art, and to still be passionate, not to mention inventive. Longevity is something desperately missing from today's music climate. But the guys didn't have many words for what they do, and for good reason. "It's hard to talk about music"
Matt said. "If you could talk about it articulately, then there is no reason to make it."
The New Year
is out now on Touch and Go Records. - joe puglisi
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The New Year's Myspace