Texas Music

A Sort of Homecoming for Young Austin Rockers MCG

They were born in Houston but now, as their musical careers begin to flourish, they hail from Austin.

It’s a familiar story, but in the case of electropop indie-rockers MCG, it wasn’t the pursuit of rock-star status that led them from H-Town to ATX, but the pursuit of knowledge.

“Jay [Cesak, bassist] and I grew up together and moved to Austin to attend UT when we were 18,” says guitarist David Tenczar. “After college I moved to New York and then L.A. to pursue a career in advertising, but Texas kept calling me back, so I returned six years ago.”

Back in Austin, Tenczar was introduced to Mariclaire “MC” Gamble, whom Cesak had also assisted in relocating from Houston to Austin for school.

MC, whose initials form the acronymic band name, had already recorded an album but was searching for a group with whom to foster her musicianship. Tenczar and Cesak were happy to oblige.

Rounding out the ensemble with lead guitarist Andrew Bennett and percussionist Drew Silverman, the newly minted MCG hit the studio and set to work with Grammy-nominated producer Chris "Frenchie" Smith to record a followup.

“Working with Frenchie was an excellent experience,” Tenczar says. “He is a strange, eccentric, smart, artistic dude, which matched perfectly with our singer MC. She is a beautiful, strange genius herself, and Frenchie was the right guy to get amazing vocal performances out of her.”

Due May 13, the band’s latest EP, Outside, was consequently a much more collaborative process. Not only was MC working with a new producer; she was working with an entirely new outfit.

But Frenchie was able to bring out the best in each of them, even suggesting reference music for listening at home to inspire their playing. The end result was a fresh sound, with the new members lending their own style to the musical experience. Tenczar says he is especially proud of the additional guitar and synth on the album.

MC’s vocals soar over xylophone-laden verses that build toward upbeat guitar riffs in the choruses of “Start Over”; harmonies come into play on “Bombs Away,” which sports an anthemic chorus; and “Outside,” as its name suggests, is the kind of song that implores listeners to get out of their houses — it’s the perfect soundtrack for an afternoon run.

Citing Bennett as the co-author of “Bombs Away,” Tenczar says the rest of the band will contribute more toward the songwriting process going forward.

But no matter how far they go, Houston will always be home for four of the band’s five members.

“I visit Houston at least every couple months,” Tenczar says. “My whole family still lives on the west side of town, and I like to visit whenever my schedule allows.”

MC visits regularly to see her mom, and although Cesak and Silverman’s busy schedules don’t allow for it often, they too make outings into town whenever they can swing it.

“We will definitely be drawing old friends and family to our show at Nightingale, and the reunion will be a great time,” Tenczar says. “We want to reach a broader group of music fans in Houston and make more trips back home to play there.”

MCG plays  a free show tonight at the Nightingale Room (308 Main) with special guest Jonathan Terrell. Doors open at 6 p.m.
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever