Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 2011. Boyfrndz is playing our Red River Noise showcase Friday, Feb. 17, at Frank in Austin, Texas. Details here.
It happened at one of those wild, unofficial all-day parties that goes from 3 in the afternoon til 3 in the morning during the week of South by Southwest. This one was hosted at Pearl Street Co-op, a student-housing cooperative west of UT, and featured a genre-unspecific hodgepodge of local and touring acts.
This was only the fourth show Boyfrndz had ever played as a band. The experimental rock trio had formed three months prior, thanks to the restlessness of two musicians unsatisfied with their previous band. Now here they were—guitarist Scott Martin, bassist Joseph Raines and drummer Aaron Perez—fully entrenched in the play-wherever-you-can grind of an unsigned unofficial SXSW band.
Their blistering math/prog/noise-rock set took place not long after nightfall. Boyfrndz got a good response, it seemed, but Martin had no idea they’d just made a fan of one of their idols.
“We’re all Mars Volta fanboys,” Martin said. Perez agreed, adding, “They changed our perspective on music.” So what happened next was a total shocker.
“It was right when we finished, like we’d just finished (our song) ‘Hook Line & Sinker’ and I put my guitar down and I turn around and he was right there,” Martin said, referring to Owens. “He was giddy like a school kid. He was like, ‘I love y’all’s sound. I’ve been doing some producing, and I’d love to record you guys.’
“He was rattling off compliments, and I was just like ‘Uh… uh…,'” Martin said, laughing as he recounted the dreamlike exchange.
Fast-forward to June and the members of Boyfrndz recording at Austin’s much-respected studio The Bubble. Perez called the recording session with Owens fun and easy. There was a natural chemistry, and the result is an Owens-produced debut EP that will feature the Volta keyboardist on two of the EP’s five tracks. While Owens was in town producing the EP, the band also played a mostly improvised live gig with their guest keyboardist. The full recording of that live set can be heard on the group’s Bandcamp page.
Boyfrndz will surely get lots of attention for the high-profile collaboration, but the band is worthy of attention on its own merits. Composed of local music veterans, this band came out of the gates strong; in addition to the Owens EP, the guys have written enough tracks for a follow-up, they’ve recorded an electronic EP to be released later this year and they’ve booked their first national tour, which kicks off in mid-July. All this for a band that’s about six months old.
“We all played in bands before, and we know what you have to do to survive as a band,” Raines said, explaining the early prolific nature of Boyfrndz. Martin elaborated, referencing his former band, “Like in We The Granada, we didn’t go on tour until two years, just because we didn’t know how to book a show. We didn’t know how to do shit. But now we’re more educated, as far as the scene and what you have to do.”
If you were wondering about We The Granada, the prog-rock quintet from San Antonio that flirted with being Austin-based, the group announced its breakup in May, after three years of epic prog freakouts. Martin and Raines both came from the group, while Perez comes from Tornahdo, Bridge Farmers and East Cameron Folkcore.
“We weren’t creatively involved in We The Granada anymore,” Martin said. “So we were kinda getting frustrated. We wanted an outlet.”
They originally wanted Boyfrndz to be a “progressive punk prog rock” band, said Raines. It didn’t end up exactly like that, but Martin said, “It turned out to be really fun.” Fun and busy.
The band plans to keep writing and recording, while finding time to tour. It helps that two of the members live together. This much activity could be daunting for a less seasoned group of musicians, but the members of Boyfrndz are serious about this music.
“You just have to go for it, and believe in what you got,” Perez said.
Listen to Boyfrndz’s debut EP, produced by Ikey Owens, below.