No doubt if you have been following the Houston music scene for the past two years, you know the sound of Finnegan, a loud, folky six-piece with roots in the Heights and Montrose. The band's playing Houston Press's annual Artopia party at Winter Street Studios this weekend.
Singer and guitarist Taylor Lee is a fixture in the little Americana scene that Finnegan is a part of, both as a songwriter and a go-to producer. We talked to Lee about the genetics of Finnegan, the band's appearance — in song — on a recent episode of MTV's The Real World, and what makes its sturdy scene click so well in Houston.
Chatter: You guys play at a pretty regular clip now, in addition to everyone in the band having their own projects here and there. What keeps the fire burning?
Finnegan at Houston Press Artopia
With Folk Family Revival, DJ Kyle Berg, DaveWrangler and Young Mammals. 8 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter St., www.houstonpress.com.
Taylor Lee: I'd say first and foremost that it is fun. We are a little family that genuinely likes spending time and playing music together. We did put out our first record in early 2011 and haven't gotten back into the studio yet, but we are writing and we have about half a record's worth of really solid tunes. I think it's our best stuff yet, so seeing that come to fruition is definitely exciting. In the meantime, we have started to swap songs out at shows — original and covers — to make sure that every show is different. We need each experience to be fun and unique.
Chatter: The song on The Real World...how did that happen? Are there any other television shows that you would like to have a song on?
Lee: The song did well on CMJ through our radio agents at Tinderbox. That in turn opened doors for licensing on about 12 different shows over several networks. Sometimes you don't even know you were played until you get a check in the mail, but the guys at The Real World are pretty cool about keeping the agents they work with informed, so we got a heads-up. We are happy for any show we get on, but I guess if we had a wish list, I'd love to see Charlie do the butt dance to Finnegan on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia...
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Chatter: There seems to be this line of bands, like yourselves, Quiet Company, Literary Greats and Poor Pilate, that have almost a specific sound right now, that is getting a lot of attention between here and Austin, that you have helped foster.
Lee: I immediately think community and talent plays a part. We are all genuinely good friends. It just happened one day where you have a party over at the house and you suddenly think, "Man, I've been hanging out with these guys for a while now, and they are hilarious, and all of them are so freaking talented, how did we all get here?" And it's not just musicians; we have a ton of really talented friends who are writers, chefs, photographers and artists, and they are good, solid people.
Chatter: Are there any bands bubbling under that we should look at for 2012?
Lee: Well, there's a community project going by the name of Swamp Sessions underway right now. Basically, new songs from six or seven different local writers are recorded by members from a dozen local bands in an effort to promote community and all the bands involved. Houston has great music, just listen up. We are all looking forward to hearing what that turns out to be. But if I had to think of a new band that is just starting to play and record, I think of Blackie Dammett. If you like fuzzy Death from Above 1979 bass and Zeppelin-style guitar riffs, I'd watch out for them.