Throw Away the Key: Bridge Farmers' Prison of Sound.
Eleven years ago a group of troubadours set out on a journey. Across numerous state lines, these poets set foot upon many stages, plied their trade with a furious commitment to audiences vast and sparse alike, encased their souls inside the fury and sound of it all, and returned home with the spoils. Soon after, the men who set out to do this found themselves doing it all over again, and again—the group was then known as Bridge Farmers, and today it still is.
The combination of heavy psych rock and doom metal that Bridge Farmers employs with bone-crunching power and skillful mastery does not come easy, it comes from years as a tight unit, from an understanding of one another's habits and a knowledge of sonic destruction and despair (powerful amplifiers, distorted sound signals, slow tempos, and eternal breakdowns).
Tyler Hautala (guitar/vocals) Garett Carr (bass) and Kyle Rice (drums) granted my brother and I some of their time after their set, and we found ourselves talking about sports over drinks. These three men impressed me as simple individuals enjoying another evening, another show, another outing with friends; they struck me as well-established carriers of a type of tradition passed down from one generation of Austin musicians to the next: continue to trek forward no matter the obstacles and keep your spirit intact.
You will see bands come and go in any music scene, but Austin's musicians seem to me to be implacable. Thick-skinned and relentless artists like Bridge Farmers are not necessarily after fame and glory; they seem more preoccupied with growth as musicians and people, it is the only way you could keep a group going for as long as they have.
I have noticed a pattern here over the last month: Austin's musicians are always seeking platforms from where to inspire others, while still supporting each other in that pursuit and representing, respecting and protecting the identity of their city. The drive of veteran bands like Bridge Farmers speaks volumes about the type of people that graze the stages of this town.
"I want to be able to play music, to keep inspiring others to play music," that is what Tyler told me as Hole in the Wall closed down for the evening; he said this not so much as a wish but as a pledge to himself, one he clearly has been repeating for years. Garett's arm was in a cast and his right eyebrow clearly healing from what he called a "minor accident," and yet he still slid up and down his fretboard, plucked with feral intent and allowed fuzz-plagued basslines to erupt with violence, Kyle's tempos set the mood and provided a foundation for the mayhem—commitment at its finest.
I imagined as I walked down "The Drag," with my ears still buzzing, three men encased in their music, three souls willfully shutting themselves into a prison of sound, hoping never to escape. Bridge Farmers influence others to play music, from bar to bar, from state to state and beyond, and invite them to come into their realm and throw away the key.
Check them out here.