The last time Austin’s the Boxing Lesson played Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar, says lead singer and guitarist Paul Waclawsky, it was “the hottest club on the whole tour,” and, as you San Antonians can imagine, he’s not using an idiom. “I’m preparing myself for it,” he vows. “I’m bringing fans this time.” Good luck with that, Paul. The synth-heavy psych-rock act (down to a duo minus drummer Jake Mitchell, who’s currently less than a year into a five-year prison sentence for “conspiracy to manufacture marijuana”) returns to Rock Bottom Thursday, August 20, when weather.com predicts a high of 102. After two EPs, Waclawsky and synth player Jaylinn Davidson moved the band from LA to Austin, where they added Davidson’s longtime friend Mitchell to the line-up in 2005. Last year’s long-player Wild Streaks & Windy Days — and especially its haunting opener “Dark Side of the Moog” — earned the band far too many comparisons to idols Pink Floyd (watch the animator Eric Power’s beautiful stop-motion video for the song at sacurrent.com). Expect plenty of David Gilmour-style overdubbed guitar solos from Waclawsky, but nobody plays the Roger Waters role — Davidson synthesizes all the low-end frequencies.
We got Waclawsky on the phone (though we didn’t have the guts to try pronouncing that last name out loud) to discuss their evolving sound, how they’re functioning in Mitchell’s absence, and why they’re better off without a bassist.
`After Waclawsky says their current line-up saves the band from having to “deal with” a bassist.` Did you decide to have `Davidson` handle the bass out of necessity because you couldn’t find another bassist, or do you have a problem with bassists?
`Laughs.` We’ve had a lot of troubles with bassists over the years. … They’re flaky. I think every bassist wants to sing and play guitar in their own band. There are some great bassists, but it’s an instrument that, when you’re not excellent at it, can get really boring.
You still list `Mitchell` as your drummer on your MySpace page, and you’ve been quoted as saying he’s still an “integral part” of the group. Do you mean he’s an integral part in spirit, or is he still able to contribute to the music?
Both. The band is a tight-knit family, and he’s still very much a part of it. But he’s still involved, though it’s a little less than he was before. … We have a new album coming out soon, and `in the weeks leading up to his incarceration` Jake recorded a little more than half of the beats for the new record. … He’s always talking about the band. He’s always asking me about our schedule, and he writes down all our tour dates.
Do you have someone filling in on drums `in concert`, or how are you handling that?
We’ve brought people in on past tours, but this time we’re touring as a two-piece. Jaylinn has a lot of these lo-fi beats she’s playing on the synth. … It’s more like experimental noise rock. We’re playing some new stuff and some of the songs from Wild Streaks, but those will be different, probably more deconstructed. … There’s more drone, more synth, and more space. For a two-piece we make a heck of a lot of sound.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.