With a family, a day job, and 46 years under his black cowboy hat, Mitch Webb — particularly when it’s a gig-free week — doesn’t get out as often as he once did. So it made sense that when it came time to speak with the Current in advance of his Friday the 13th Lonely Kind release party at Casbeers, Webb took the opportunity to socialize as well as promote.
He invited along Swindles/Buttercup guitarist Joe Reyes, and the two spent most of the next 90 minutes talking the new record, food, and the local music “scene” — or lack thereof. Webb and his bandmates, however, did spend quite a bit of time (years off and on, actually) crafting the songs that would eventually become Lonely Kind.
The result is an 11-track mashup of pop-rock (“West Coast Blues”), honky-tonk (“Pig Song”), and up-tempo relationship-gone-wrong balladry (the album-closing “Poison Bed”). Other songs, meanwhile, fall under the umbrella of Americana, a genre Webb said often proves comical at his day job.
“There’s an Americana section in our store,” says Webb, who has worked at CD Exchange for the past 12 years. “If we can’t figure out what `genre` it is, we just throw it in ‘Americana.’”
Adds Reyes: “In the Americana genre, you have more room to use the personality you have. It’ll still be there, because it’s not been all polished off.”
Not that Webb and the Swindles envisioned Lonely Kind as a rough-around-the-edges, mainstream-be-damned record. Rather, the band set out to record a polished yet rootsy album, one with a major-label sound blanketing an indie-label core.
“We were very conscious for it to sound really good, but not as `slick` as a Nashville album,” says Webb, sipping on a 16-ounce beer in between bites of chicken flautas and guacamole. “But we wanted it to be better than a usual Nashville album.”
Webb and Reyes don’t begrudge Nashville for cranking out round after round of catchy country-pop records. They admire the songwriting, the high production quality, and the ability to formulate a hit song. As much is evident on bits and pieces of Lonely Kind, most notably verse-chorus-verse tracks like the first three songs — “Lonely Kind,” “West Coast Blues,” and “Cactus Blooms” — all of which were penned solely by Webb.
“You’re talking to the wrong guys,” Webb said when asked if he took offense to the notion that portions of Lonely Kind sound very pop-influenced. “We love pop music.”
Webb and Reyes also love shooting the shit about everything from obscure musicians to fried pickles to the fact that Reyes — while Webb
enjoys a tall Miller Lite — opts for Diet Pepsi.
“I stopped drinking toward the tail end of making this record, so most of it I don’t remember,” Reyes quips. “It reached a point where I was spending more time on recovery than the act of having fun, so I’m taking a break. But it’s like our other guitarist `Dave Wasson` said — ‘That spot will always be there waiting for you.’”
But enough about that — Webb wants to talk Webb.
“More about me — `this album` was just a painstaking amount of hard work and a lot of effort,” he jokes. “`The art of writing a song` actually hits you in one shot. Some take a while, but the good ones tend to hit you in one shot.
“Songs are just floating in the air, and you’ve just got to grab them,” he adds, mimicking Willie Nelson in tone, drawl, and philosophy. “You’ve got to be open to seeing them when they’re out there for you.”
Of course, bad songs don’t take much time to construct, either.
“Bad writing is very easy to do,” Reyes says. “To get to the essence of `a song`, it’s hard. Mitch can do it, and I have a lot of friends who are no strangers to songwriting, and they can do it. It’s almost like a gift, but you have to work at it all the time. The hard part is waiting for it.”
Perhaps it’s fitting that Webb and Reyes approach their craft with such a tongue-in-cheek mentality. San Antonio, the two contend, doesn’t really boast a major Americana scene, so recording an album and playing it to crowds is really a pressure-free process.
Besides, Webb and Reyes — at this point in their lives — are too old to worry about conforming to any social standards or scenes.
“For us, `the San Antonio live-music scene` is great,” Webb says. “I think if you’re an angsty teenager, it might be a little difficult. But we’re old guys, and we’ve fought through all that. We play music to have fun, and if you’re in it for anything else, you’re making a huge mistake.” •
& The Swindles
9:30pm Fri, Jun 13
1719 Blanco Rd.