The holiday spirit didn’t exactly cheer members of San Antonio’s Glow in the Sun last December. Sitting at Taco Garage on Broadway last week, members of the blues-rock quartet recalled how they were tired of playing time-change intensive, proggy hard rock. It was time to hire a proper songwriter to give their music some structure and balance. So, last December, they posted their last Craigslist ad, this time with the subject line: “SINGER WITH BALLS. NO BS.”
“We wanted somebody with some soul and some grit,” said drummer Tyler Weaver.
“Dude, don’t lie!” Nigel Barrios, bassist, jumped in. “Look, this is how it always was. Every time we invited somebody over, we’d say, ‘All right man, show us what you got.’ And they’d be like, ‘Oh, uh, well I don’t really make up anything. I don’t have anything.’ One guy passed out on us.”
If Weaver is a feel-good, life-of-the-party type, Barrios is his polar opposite: grounded, calculating, intense, the kind of guy who never sleeps because sleeping is for hacks. Somewhere in the middle is the newest member, Nathan Shimek. Answering the testicular ad, the singer/songwriter sat down in front of Glow in the Sun and breezily played what they wanted: three songs that best displayed his vocal abilities. Weaver, Barrios and guitarist Mike Tellez (who didn’t make the interview) were finally impressed, though they didn’t want to show it.
“I remember Nigel — I didn’t know who this guy was — real cool and calmly looked back at the back door, and he looked at Mike like ‘Hmm,” Shimek recalled. “He said, ‘Let’s play that again. What are the chords?’”
For the rest of the winter and through the spring, Glow in the Sun started over again, writing new material with Shimek and adapting a few of his originals. They practiced seven days a week, for no less than four hours at a time. In three months, they wrote the material that would become their debut Eagle’s Nest. But they rehearsed the album for three more months, struck by a mania for perfection, before hitting the record button.
“We all have a lot of drive,” Barrios said.
“We also have no life,” Weaver added.
Despite all (or perhaps because of) the toil and isolation in Glow in the Sun, Eagles is some loud-talkin’, beer-swillin’, pretty-girl-harassin’ hard rock. The album plumbs the soulful, poppy, and gritty sides of 1970s’ musical golden age, with some added millennial attitude. On “Blue Blood,” Shimek sings of a recession-era romance destroyed by class distinction. “Model 363,” a psychedelic and shameless the-party-don’t-start-’til-I-walk-in anthem, reveals that Shimek spent his teenhood listening to hip-hop. (He heard his first rock records in college.) Meanwhile, “Generosity” is a mini-epic ode to the booty call. “Girl, pick up the phone and call me back!” Shimek hoots like Layne Staley impersonating Robert Plant.
The raucous fun of Eagle’s Nest reflects the collective personality of Glow in the Sun. At various points, Weaver called the band’s old music “something retarded,” their rehearsal style “rinse and repeat,” and threatened to kick Shimek out of the band for “having a Twitter.” Even Barrios fell prey to the band’s constant loop of joke-cracking and ball-breaking during our sit-down.
Glow in the Sun’s back-slapping bromance grew from weeks stacked with 40 hours of work and 30 hours of rehearsal for six months straight. They coordinated everything, down to where everybody lives, which is not too far from Barrios and their rehearsal space. Before year’s end, they’ll pool their money, buy a van, pick up the phone, and book a tour. Damn everything, said Shimek, if he loses his teaching job, he’ll just get another.
Post interview (and filled with the hooligan spirit), I texted Barrios, asking if he wanted to rib Tellez in the story for not showing up. I offered to call Tellez a nickname he can’t stand or some other hijinx. Barrios responded with a loyalty that made me feel like a fool for assuming to be part of the inner circle.
“Meh, we don’t throw anyone under the bus,” he wrote. “All for one and one for all and shit.” •
Glow in the Sun
CD Release Party
9pm Sun, Sept. 5
107 E. Martin St.