Tulsa area produces some very bright musicians
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Thursday, May 21, 2009
5/21/09 at 5:26 AM
The band's only been together for a few months, but there are already plans afoot for a tour, an album is in the works, a demo album is out now, and Native Lights has already been asked to consider a European tour.
Native Lights is no newbie to the music biz. With members from many of the region's most respected underground acts, including Unwed Sailor, Ester Drang, Ryan Lindsey and Callupsie, the Tulsa quartet has close to half a century of cumulative performing, writing and recording experience.
All four — Johnathon Ford, Aaron Hamby, Bryce Chambers and Nathan Price — have known each other for years. They've all toured for years with their own bands. The roster for Ford alone stretches from coast to coast and back again.
"In my head, I wanted to be in a true local band," said Ford. "We've all been touring for so long. And this is a band where we're all from the same state — for once in my life," he said, then chuckled. "It made sense. They're all awesome musicians. It's an alternate outlet and some of the songs we've written (with Native Lights) are some of my all-time favorite songs. It's a huge rush for me."
To name-drop: Collaborators in Ford's other band, ambient rock act Unwed Sailor, include members of Pedro the Lion, Fleet Foxes, Mersey Paradise, Lovedrug, Bear Colony, Parlour, Sufjan Stevens' band, The Photographic and legions more.
Several months ago, the four came together for Native Lights, to "contribute something different to Tulsa," said Chambers.
Ford agreed. "We all have so many influences."
Unwed Sailor is mostly instrumental, soundtrack-based, ephemeral-yet-epic. Chambers' band, Ester Drang, is atmospheric, psychedelic-tinged indie music.
"But with this band, we're more like Psychedelic Furs, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus Lizard. We're a heavy, shoe-gazey pop band. We still want to focus on the hook," explained Ford. In Native Lights, both Hamby and Chambers sing.
At least one new tune heralds their hometown, said Chambers, over a recent pint with bandmate Ford.
"Black Wall Street" is about the historic Greenwood district. "Bryce came up with the guitar line," said Ford, "and that's something I'd never heard him do before in other bands."
Born in Tulsa, Ford returned home two years ago after a roundabout route of gigging, recording, reinvention and necessity. Since graduating high school here, he's lived in Lawrence, Kan.; Seattle; Chicago; Long Beach, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Washington, D.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Jackson, Miss.
Native Lights has been recording at Blackwatch Studio in Norman, and the demo is out now. The band's also scheduling shows through the summer, and an overseas booking agent has contacted them about touring.
Not that the numerous other projects the guys are part of get pushed aside. To the contrary, Chambers is writing for Ester Drang, Hamby performs regularly with Callupsie, nearly all gig with Norman musician Ryan Lindsey, and Price still works with Tulsa band Vandevander.
"We're definitely serious about Native Lights," said Chambers, "but we don't have the labels to worry about, or touring or that extra work like with Ester Drang or Unwed Sailor. And we hang out all the time, anyway. We trust each other, so we can all do new things right now."
Ford agreed. "It's nice to throw something completely new into the mix. This is new inspiration. We wouldn't do it if we didn't have some expectation for it that needed to be met. And, if things go to more than putting out records and playing shows, we'll take it."
With Volcano and ryan lindsey
When: 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Soundpony, 409 N. main St.
Admission: Free. Over 21.
Note: Unwed Sailor, Native lights, ryan
lindsey and Callupsie also all have been
confirmed to play Dfest this year, July
24-25 in downtown Tulsa.
Jennifer Chancellor 581-8346
Native Lights is Bryce Chambers (left), Johnathon Ford, Aaron Hamby and (not pictured) Nathan Price. Jeremy Charles / Courtesy