The wind beneath my Buffalo wings

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Local Americana rock outfit Buffalo Saints took much longer than they would have liked to release their debut, "Walking the Dead." Well over a year ago they started recording at Independence's Awestruck and Frequency studios, bug they had trouble scheduling recording time while sharing bassist/organist Nathan Harold and guitarist Mike Alexander with touring bands (Kelpie and the Architects, respectively). Along with the other constants - band constants, vocalist Thom Hoskins and drummer Ryan Johnson - the band has a slew of part-time members, including pedal steel guitarist Jeff Jackson (of OK Jones). lawrence.com caught up with 3/4ths of the core band over drinks at the Taproom...

lawrence.com: What does the band name mean?

Ryan: It's about rolling dice, that's all we can say.

Thom: It's not about rolling dice.

Ryan: We definitely rolled dice.

Thom: He's trying to make it cooler than it is because it's not really that cool. We decided that any band name that anyone would come up with, "Naw, that didn't sound cool." So we decided to collectively to use two big sheets of legal tablets and write out different sounding aesthetically cool words that we liked.

Ryan: We definitely rolled dice for something.

Thom: You rolled dice for -

Nate: Money.

Thom: Maybe for money, but not so much for the band. You weren't playing with us by that time.

Ryan: Yeah, I was.

Thom: Whatever...

What are your goals as a band?

Ryan: To top the charts.

Thom: Ryan wants to be on the David Letterman Show...

What are your short term plans, for the next year?

Thom: For the next year, I'm going to try to stay alive. At the beginning of this year, I've almost died twice. Only by accident, but I'm still with them. I'm still here, I'm still strong.

Ryan: That toaster keeps coming unplugged and he throws it in the shower.

Thom: You know, I like to do my toasting in the shower. What's so wrong with that?

How would you describe how the songs sound as a genre?

Ryan: We have enough rock for people who like rock and kind of enough twang for people that like country to somewhere meet in the middle. I think we're kind of changing now. It depends on who shows up for the show. If Jeff (Jackson)'s there, it's a little more country. If Mike's there, it's a little more...

Thom: ...It's a little more rock 'n' roll.

Ryan: If we're just doing a three-piece or whatever, it's a little more singer/songwriter. I'd definitely say whoever shows up, it's kind of a band that has people come and go and play for us, with us.

Thom: I didn't have a band for a long time and these songs I think are more focused around just a song and the way it sounds. I could play with a band or without, but the songs that I'm continuing to write right now feels more like a band to me than this record. I think the next one will be completely different, so I hope most people don't stop buying the records because it will completely change from record to record.

What bands would you guys want to be lumped in with?

Ryan: I like Lucero. I like Lucero a lot.

Thom: I would say Minus Five, Lucero. I really like The Shins. There's some other bands. I think there's a lot of bands that are kind of gravitating more towards the sound of kind of American rock and not so much as an experimental band but like as just kind of a little more classic sounding instrumentation and recording.

Nate: To me, being more on the outside, not being a permanent member or anything, the way I look at it, and I've kind of looked at it for a while, is that this band kind of reminds me of an Elvis Costello and the Attractions kind of thing, to where Elvis Costello started out on his own, did one record by himself more or less. But, once he brought the band in, the Attractions, everything changed. It feels like his songs became more focused on, "How would the band do this?" I feel like that's how it is with Thom and Ryan. It kind of evolved into this...I don't know? More collective.

Ryan: I like that we're collective...I think the best thing about this band is it's not like you go see so-and-so or such-and-such with those people in the band and, "This person can play with us and he's in the band." He comes to Buffalo Saints and it's music. If you have talent and if you have something to give to the band come up and play with us. I think that's great that we're not limiting ourselves to any select people. You can't come on stage drunk and pick up a guitar drunk.

Thom: We have an unofficial fifth member who plays guitar and drinks heavily.

Nate; I don't think I could be in the band with him because I blind-sided him at kickball. I don't know who this guy was. He got up on the stage at the end of the show the other night and took Thom's guitar and started playing it. Five minutes before told me I was the best bass player he's ever seen and then five minutes later told me I played kickball against him two years ago and I grew my hair out to hide from him and he's going to kill me.

Ryan: Didn't he try to strangle you?

Nate; Yeah.

Ryan: He ran after my van and I thought someone had hit him. He tried to run me down, on foot, while I was in the car.

What do you like about the Lawrence music community?

Nate: ...How many venues are there in a 10 block radius? That right there is something that a lot of towns really don't have. I think that kind of spawns this more welcoming to different genres, to different styles.

Ryan: For sure. I think as small as Lawrence is, tight knit as well, you can walk five blocks, see the lead singer for the Get Up Kids, see Andrew Conner from Ghosty, or whoever. I think being in a small community, you see them a lot, you get to talk to them, you become friends with them. It's one of those things where if you're in a band and you know someone else who is in a band, you want to strive to make better music so they can listen to it. Music is not making music for yourself, it's about sharing. I think that's another thing why we just like to welcome a lot of members and hopefully permanent members in the future to play with us. It's just about sharing.

What do you want to add to Lawrence's music community?

Thom: I feel like there's a strong songwriter community here and the songs that I write are very simple. I think that's what's getting lost in a lot of Kansas City music and in Lawrence it just seems like a lot of songwriters are abundant. I don't know. I would just like to add another voice to this amazing city, town of musicians. I think it's cool because I've been able to approach other musicians about playing and it's just very cool how everybody is just so open. I think it moves me to add another voice. I really enjoy this town.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thom: Yeah, we're playing with Arthur Dodge at the Taproom on the 30th.

Ryan: Who I heard likes us.

Thom: Yeah, he seems to like us and he doesn't like much. That's another thing I'm very impressed with. It's going to be a good time. We're going to have some other musicians come out and play with us and stuff. It'll be Nate's last show, so it's kind of happy, but a little sad.

Nate: It's a very bittersweet time.

Ryan: I'll probably get drunk and cry.

Thom: Ryan's going to cry a lot, Nate's going to be happy to finally leave the band. I'm going to run off like a chicken with his head cut off. It's going to be good times to see me have a breakdown. It's going to be a good time and we're going to really try to have fun and hopefully some people will come out and we'll enjoy ourselves and we'll get to sell a few CDs.