What began years ago in Forth Worth, Texas, as a friendship between Brett Moses and Marshall “Galactic” Newman is now a full-fledged indie rock machine ready to take on the world. Joined by Marshall’s brother Travis on drums and Matt Hudson on bass, The Frontier Brothers have made quite a name for themselves here in the Live Music Capital. Going beyond the typical Austin blogger scene where local indie fame is made, The Frontier Brothers have made it to major local publications, radio station-sponsored showcases that also garnered them radio play and spots on festival showcases at South By Southwest. Even MTV’s veteran music journalist John Norris interviewed the band, albeit the guys were in bright colored space suits.
With a spacey Buck Rogers-meets-Paste-Magazine prep style, the band is unlike any other band you will hear on Red River, the heart of the live music scene in Austin and the street that inspired this publication. After releasing a few EPs, the first album to catch real attention was Space Punk Starlet, released in 2008. The band toured the country and impressed even the most pretentious hipster audiences in Williamsburg, New York.
Fast-forward to 2010 and The Frontier Brothers’ musical shuttle ride is still going. They released a new EP, You Should Start A Band, which is also the name of the lead single. A new album is in the works, but the biggest news is that the band is moving to New York. We asked frontman Marshall Newman about this news and more.
At what point in your fine young lives did you guys realize, “Hey, we’re good and we should really do this band thing (semi) professionally”? Was it a certain moment or a recommendation from someone in particular?
Marshall: The first “Space Party” was probably the moment. We played a DIY garage show. People dressed as robots and animals of the Sahara. It was the first time Brett and I played with a drummer (my brother Travis), and everything sounded great. Playing music, absolutely free music, became a possibility.
What are some of your musical influences?
Marshall: For me, a lot of Pavement. I like how Stephen Malkmus uses lead vocals to not only sing, but to proclaim things. It eliminates the “formal” relationship between listener and the boom box. You find yourself more open to idiosyncrasies. The recording is more vital.
A new album is one the way. Tell me the details and specifics on that, i.e. release date, title, over all vibe or direction, etc.
Marshall: We have no official release date, but it will most likely be completed (after another four- or five-song EP) next summer. The title! Well, that’s impossible. And frankly, you’ve compounded my stress level. With our band, anything can happen. Who knows what we’ll want to write in the coming months. There are two songs, however, that are a bit more mellow, a bit darker. Songwriter songs. But as I mentioned earlier, distorted a bit. From a lyrical standpoint, the songs deal with the tension between toughness and vulnerability, with a little worship of women thrown in.
After a few albums and a new EP, what do you think of where you are today versus where you thought you’d be when you guys first got started? What have you learned?
Marshall: We’re better musicians, better performers, the works. What we’ve learned? Sit me down with a Scotch and a stress ball. The musician’s life follows a constant and steep trajectory between highs and lows. Tip your bartenders, stay hungry and never stay in a motel. Your van is free.
What is something people, media, etc. often get wrong about your band?
Marshall: For awhile, our image obscured our music. We learned our lesson. The goofiness was about freedom, not about marketing.
How does one put together spacey images and references with dudes who perform in such dapper suit attire?
Marshall: Dudes of questionable coolness, but hearts o’ gold.
With all the positive press and reviews I’ve read, I was wondering what inspired the song “You Should Start A Band.”
Marshall: Everyone should start a band. One time, we were playing this basement show in Boston, and for some reason I was taking a two-hand tapping solo. I remember looking up, and seeing four beautiful women holding me and beaming like the new sun. It’s hard to fully appreciate rock ‘n’ roll without experiences like that. Not everyone can strut about on the cover of Spin, but anyone can start a band and make good music. You simply must.
About the video for “You Should Start A Band”: Tell me about the whole bears thing and shooting it.
Marshall: We shot that video in one day. I found the bear costumes online. A strange little shop in a Dallas ghetto. Travis had to drive out and pick them up. The video is pretty representative of The Frontier Brothers: glee, violence, and d.i.y.
Tell me about your upcoming move to New York. Is it permanent, only for a few months? Specific purpose?
Marshall: Brett has to take care of school, and we’re tired of the band being separated. I’m going to be done with college. Why not have an adventure! We’ll be back, of course.
You were telling me about playing in New York City the other day, specifically “Billyburg.” Does being an “Austin” band draw any interest or backlash in terms of impressing or getting the attention of hipster audiences?
Marshall: They love it, and frankly, they’re not as desensitized to music as some Austin folks. The term “hipster” has become so nebulous these days. It’s not a culture anymore; it’s an aesthetic choice. Furthermore, there is a distinct difference between the hipster and the “unsavory hipster.” I can tell you, we have gotten only cheers for “Don’t Try and Take My Guns,” even though I explicitly challenge Yankees in the song.
What are you most looking forward to in regards to living in New York?
Marshall: Crushing my enemies, seeing them driven before me and hearing the lamentations of their women.
What will you miss most about Austin when you move?
Marshall: NYC is fantastic, and we have a huge following there, but it smells like a ball of tar doused in perfume, while Austin reminds me of a piece of driftwood speckled with clean, deep soil. Sometimes it’s necessary to go places that produce tension inside of you.
Something personal here what do you guys think of the departure of WOXY and the possible departure of ME TV?
Marshall: It’s a tragedy, a horrible thing. WOXY sincerely cared about musicians, and they were willing to take chances. We played a WOXY showcase in L.A. on our first West Coast tour, and they were some of the first people to really give us a chance. I still have hope for ME TV, but both will be missed dearly. Those folks at WOXY were good people, and they had guts.