The Texas Gentlemen’s 2017 debut LP TX Jelly seemed to exist in a different timeline entirely, one where Cosmic Cowboys and folks like Leon Russell and Willie Nelson regularly attracted both the rednecks and hippies to their shows, drawn to the mix of psychedelic and country music. Their follow up, Floor It!!! has that same vibe; full speed ahead.
“To be honest I don’t think any of us really thought about this as a ‘follow up’ album while we were making it,” says Pianist Daniel Creamer. “The process behind TX Jelly was extremely loose and unplanned, and while we retained some of that spontaneity in the performances on this album, from a production standpoint it was much more refined with significantly more attention to detail. I would say that our excitement about showing what we can do eclipsed any worry about how it would compare to the first album.”
Floor It!!!, like its predecessor, is being released by New West Records. The record came out on July 17th. In a creative stroke of genius, possible aided by drink and smoke, the vinyl version of the album also comes with an actual board game (more on that below).
We sat down with Creamer to talk about Floor It!!!, old school boardgames and promoting a record during a global pandemic.
You recorded part of the record in Muscle Shoals which seems really appropriate – Leon Russell was the first thing I thought of when I heard the intro song. What was that experience like?
Recording at FAME is always a thrill for us. We love the folks who run the place (Engineer John Gifford is an absolute gem of a human being) and you can’t help but feed off the leftover energy from the countless legends who have recorded there. The Echo Lab, where we recorded the majority of the album is in a lot of ways our version of what FAME was to the swampers, so to have tracks that were partially recorded in both places was a really exciting opportunity to mix the past and the present.
The board game is a cool tie in – who came up with that idea and designed the game?
The board game idea came out of a conversation that Nik (Lee, guitarist) and I were having while we were at The Echo Lab working on overdubs for the album. Like most of our ideas, it was part of a rambling stream of consciousness diatribe that we probably weren’t taking very seriously at the time, but as time went on we kept marinating on it until we decided it was really something that we could bring to life with a little help. That’s where Matt Cliff comes into play. Matt had designed our first album cover as well as a lot of our shirts and posters and he’s just generally our go-to guru of amazing visuals. We brought the idea to him and he was instantly sold on it, then after about a 6-hour initial meeting with the band over pizza and cocktails to plan the basic layout of the game and a handful of extensive phone conversations to hammer out the finer details he set to work on it. What he ended up sending us met and far exceeded our expectations for basically an adult Candyland-Esque drinking game set in the “Floor It!!!” universe.
You guys have -and continue – to serve as the band for a lot of others. Did you start out as go-to hired hands, meet that way, and decide to record your own songs or did people hear TX Jelly and then ask if you could serve as their backing band?
We all played in several bands together early on that were generally built around a lead singer and their songs as is generally the case. That’s where we sort of got the knack for interpreting songs and playing together. I guess really the idea of us as a backing band has been a little overblown in my eyes, but there is definitely an element of truth to it. We’ve done quite a few studio sessions together where we acted as the backing band and done many gigs where somebody wanted us to back them for a few tunes or collaborate in some way, but really we started with a residency at the end of 2013 and we were just filling in for my brother’s band so we had to throw together three hours of material in a week and we just decided to learn (when I say learn I mean we would generally make up an arrangement from our memory of a song without really checking our work) a bunch of our favorite old songs. All that to say that I would classify us as a bar band that turned into something more before a backing band.
How soon before the lockdowns started did you finish the record?
The record was finished with mixing, mastering, and all late 2019. We had quite a few setbacks time-wise throughout the making of the album. Initially, we hoped it would be out by September of last year… But our concern was always to make the best product we could, so it didn’t bother us to push back the release. Obviously, we had no idea when we started planning for a summer release that live performances would be off the table and that has definitely changed things in a major way. But honestly, things never go exactly as planned and the reality about this year is that artists are going to have to really buckle down and get creative to mitigate the loss of the main source of money for most bands. Luckily, people haven’t got much better to do than sitting around and listen to music! It’s certainly a setback, but we’re not letting it get us down and we have some exciting ideas to work around the situation.
Has the COVID shutdown affected anything around releasing the album or any tour plans?
Right when the virus first made its way to the states we were working on some videos, one of which we will be releasing later this month. We have been working on some ideas to keep a steady flow of content for people as we’re putting out singles leading up to the release of the album, but we haven’t yet joined into the iPhone video/live stream onslaught. That sort of thing can be a lot of fun for artists and fans, but we want to try to mix it up and keep things interesting. We’re working on some fun things with a call-in number (406-FLOORIT) that we’ll keep updating in the coming weeks among other things.
What’s next for you?
Our next single is coming with a video this month which is going to be a ton of fun and give people the next little peek into the various styles you’ll be hearing on this album, but aside from that we’re taking it day by day, doing what we can to stay busy, and gearing up for July 17th when all humanity shall join hands and FLOOR IT!!!