SOTC Premiere: It Is Happening Again: A Texas Is The Reason Microfilm (Plus A Q&A With Norman Brannon)
Texas is the Reason were and, recently, are a band. They formed in 1994 and released one self-titled EP and one full-length, Do You Know Who You Are?, on which they exemplified a kind of emo that was both anxious and circlingsmall, contained universes of songs that somehow managed to seem open and unresolved. Some of this quality can be traced to the playing of guitarist Norman Brannon, drifting and changeable chords that also acquire pattern. It's a resonant effect, as hard to pin down properly as the band's accumulated popularity from its only two releases. Texas is the Reason disbanded in 1997, reunited briefly for two shows at Irving Plaza in 2006, and have this year reunited for Revelation Records' 20th-anniversary shows. They play Irving Plaza on October 11, and in It Is Happening Again: A Texas Is The Reason Microfilm, which premieres below, announce a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on October 10. SOTC interviewed Brannon about the reunion, the nature of genre-based scenes, and the band's still-growing audience.
It Is Happening Again: A Texas Is The Reason Microfilm
In the short, there's this section where everyone talks about how the songs still feel fresh. There's not this nostalgic distance, necessarily. The music does have a time and placelike mid- and late-'90s emo, right?but I don't know if it's necessarily a thing where people listen to it and say, "Oh, I remember that time."
Well, right. I think it just kind of depends on who's listening to it. It's got to have some sort of historical situation. But even from my perspective, to call it mid-'90s emo is a very nostalgically distant way of putting it, because we weren't called that at the time. On one level our band was associated a lot with friends of ours like The Promise Ring. In the beginning of our band we were more associated with other friends, like Quicksand. If you look at the aesthetic difference between Quicksand and The Promise Ring, and then you have us, I fail to understand how that becomes a single genre after 15 or 20 years even. I've always felt like the more historically accurate way of looking at it was what people did call us at the time, which was "post-hardcore." Which isn't really a thing. It's not really a musical description as much as it's more of a factual description. They were in hardcore bandsthis is what they did afterwards. In that sense I would say that description does apply to a band like Quicksand, to a band like The Promise Ring, to a band like us. When I first met Jason [Gnewikow] from The Promise Ring, he was in a hardcore band called None Left Standing, I was in a hardcore band called Shelter, and we played together in Wisconsin. So the connection is there, but it's difficult these days when people start making these musical connections that maybe aren't there, because they don't understand how interesting the '90s were at that time in terms of how scenes worked. Which was a lot more about how you operated as a band as opposed to what you sounded like.
I like that clear definition of "post-hardcore" because I feel I say that and I don't actually know what I mean. It's definitely "what came after," but it's not purely hardcore anymore, it's got all these other elements to it. I think in some way it describes a sound, at least in its early stages, because people were incorporating dub, as well as rhythms that weren't strictly hardcore.
It's difficult because... I remember one time back in 2006 when I was talking about the band, I asked this question that I think is relevant, where I said: Dave Grohl came out of a hardcore band and started the Foo Fighters, we came out of hardcore bands and started Texas is the Reason. Aesthetically, I don't think our bands sound terribly different. If you just gave both of our records to the average person, they'd be like, "Oh, that's kind of in the same wheelhouse." And yet, nobody would ever call the Foo Fighters emo.
I might. Just for the Sunny Day pedigree.
Let's just say nobody ever really has seriously, in terms of a critical perspective, even if you want to get into weird semantic games about it, like, "He has X members of Sunny Day Real Estate."
I like a more nuanced perspective on that stuff, because I come at it as somebody who got into this music when I was in college, which was well beyond when these scenes stopped. Or less stopped as much as... shifted perspective.
Well, I think it's hard to explain what happened in the '90s, especially branching out of the hardcore scene. I think that there was a definite sea change that went down almost immediately as the decade changed. In 1990, when you look at it, that was the year that Shelter came out, and Inside Out came out, and Quicksand came out, and Burn came out, and there were all these bands that all of sudden they all didn't sound like Negative Approach or The Abused, or whatever '80s hardcore band everybody kind of wanted to sound like in 1987. Everybody was doing something different, musically speaking. But everybody played shows together. I just posted a flyer for a show to our Facebook page, where the show was Snapcase, Chamberlain, and us. Nobody would bat an eyelash at that at the time, but I wonder how that same bill would go over today. I kind of feel like things got very unnecessarily segregated, whereas back then I think that there was a communal feeling just based on where you were from and how you operated in your band. Whether or not your band had any sort of ethics, whether or not you were doing things yourself, whether or not you were contributing to a scene that existed.
I always use the two poles of bands that we've played with as Ida and Madball. We've played with both of those bands. There is a thread that connects, whether anyone wants to see it or not.