The great Broadway lyricist Alan Jay Lerner once quipped, “You write a hit the same way you write a flop.” For TK Webb, Brooklyn’s next great hope in the psych-folk genre, the same words ring true in his consistent output and unwavering approach to writing music.
“I’m actually recording another album in 30 minutes,” a rushed Webb told GO Brooklyn this week. “It’s an EP, eight songs or something.”
Indeed, while many other bands skulk in the studio for months on end, Webb has a quicker, and more organic, way of recording his songs. Webb and his band, the Visions, track everything as if they were just hanging out and jamming.
Transplanted from the South around the turn of the millennium, Webb has been playing music in some form since he was nine years old, hitting his stride in the last few years recording solo material and work with the Visions, and releasing two full-length records between tours.
Webb, born Thomas Kelly Webb 30 years ago in Missouri, plays a combination of muddy blues riffs and psychedelic rock. His latest record, “Phantom Parade,” released in November on the Brooklyn label the Social Registry, is at once simple and complex. Webb’s gravely voice leads straight-ahead blues rock through tracks like “The Desert,” with other songs find guitars, floor toms and xylophones layered together for a more symphonic feeling.
“[‘Parade’ was] basically a live record,” said Webb. “There are some overdubs, but it was basically us in a giant room, Neil Young-style. It was just this big atmospheric room, that’s how we got those kind of creepy and big tones.”
“It was a blast for me,” he said, “just a bunch of bros drinking beers, recording.”
Some of these sounds are difficult to reproduce live, so Webb often brings musicians out with him on stage, even if it’s just a bassist and a drummer with a trap kit.
His live shows, however, differ vastly from each other, depending on the night he is performing. “It could be anything from just me and a harmonica to me and four people rocking out,” said Webb. “It changes a lot. I will be with a full band at Union Hall [on April 16].”
Regardless of how Webb chooses to perform on any given night, other voices in the New York music scene have begun to praise his live shows.
“He has one of the most powerful voices I’ve heard in years,” said Rob Sacher, the owner of Williamsburg’s Luna Lounge, who booked Webb for a headlining gig last month. “There is absolutely no pretense to the way he approaches his music.”
While it’s definitely in style to ignore popular music in favor of a more vintage flavor, Webb is unabashed in touting the kind of music he listens to apart from his more obvious influences (Neil Young, the Band and what he describes as “ancient blues records.”) “To be honest, right now I’ve been listening to the emo-punk records I listened to as a kid. I know it sounds weird, but it sounds fresh to me again.”
Even if the sound of mid-1990’s indie rock hasn’t made it into Webb’s sound, it’s definitely in his head. He cites bands like Jawbreaker and Fifteen as being quintessential parts of his daily rock ’n’ roll regiment. Despite these claims, we still can’t hear much that was recorded beyond 1975 when we listen to Webb. Ever ready with a contrary opinion, though, Webb disagrees.
“You listen and there’s indie stuff in there, too. It’s not just cowboy s—t.”
TK Webb will be playing at Union Hall (702 Union St. at Fifth Avenue in Park Slope) at 8 pm on April 16 with King Kong and Less the Band. Tickets are $10. For information, call (718) 638-4400 or visit www.unionhallny.com.
©2007 Community News Group
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