Houston Music

Artist of the Week: Winter Wallace

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

After last week's Artist of the Week set off a firestorm of offensive - and possibly genius - comments ("FUCK BARNUM AND BAILEYS... FUCK KRYLON... FUCK RESALE SHOPS..."), we set off to find a group whose music was capable of subduing the sweaty mass of commenters. Enter the Winter Wallace Band.

WWB is, for all intents and purposes, a phenomenally genteel indie band. They've got a certain Ingrid Michaelson/Cat Power-ness to them, with similarities stretch beyond similar song format or quirky clothing accessories or soft colors on their MySpace pages: they are legitimately talented. Collectively, they might be one of the best bands in Houston you've never heard of.

After the jump, read how their singer is named Winter Wallace but Winter Wallace is actually a band, the history of "Lisa," and the apparent awesomeness of Dan Workman.

Rocks Off: Tell us a bit about how Winter Wallace came to be. And can you clear this up for us: is Winter Wallace a band or is Winter Wallace a person? And if she is a person, is she of any relation to William Wallace?

Winter Wallace: First, my name is Winter Wallace. I am the singer of the Winter Wallace Band. We have a few guest musicians here and there, such as violinists and cellists, but the band is comprised of four permanent members: myself, Nolan Burke (guitar, keys), Kris Noland (keys) [and] Asher Pudlo (drums). The reason why we go by the Winter Wallace Band is because it originally just started out as me when I was 17.

I didn't have a band but knew I needed to record all of the musical ideas I have, so my grandmother found Dan Workman from SugarHill Studios in the paper. That was seven years ago. Dan and I worked with a composer named Kevin Ryan to help me get my lyrics and melodies into play, because I don't play an instrument.

We actually had a permanent violinist for a while named Sally Tawfik who contributed some really beautiful pieces to our newer songs, but we went to having guest musicians as strings can be so hard to manage live.

[And] yes, insanely enough, [William Wallace] is my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great... etc grandfather. At least, that's what a genealogist told my grandmother.

RO: Was your song "Lisa" crafted specifically to be used as the background music for one of those SPCA commercials? It seems tailor-made for that sort of thing.

WW: A close friend of my family ended her own life and Nolan and I wrote a song to give to her family. "Lisa" is a dark and sad ballad, but truthful. It has been the most difficult song we've ever done together thus far.

RO: "Night Nurse" feels noticeably heavier than your typical stuff, which leads us to believe that it was written more as a reactionary, emotional song, which leads me to believe that there's an interesting backstory behind it. Which is great because we've been waiting for the opportunity to use the term "dish" as an a verb. So, dish.

WW: "Night Nurse" was my second song. We recorded it when I was probably... 18. I was going for a different sound. One of my pet peeves is seeing a band and every song is a continuation of the last one. I love when each song could be an album of its own. We tend to write that way as a band. We like to keep moving in every direction instead of just one.

RO: Anything you want to make sure gets mentioned? Now's the time to do it - rather, now's the time to dish.

Dan Workman has helped us tremendously as our friend and mentor. I thank God sometimes that my grandmother just so happened to read about him in the paper seven years ago. I'm not sure where we would be as a band without him. He has tirelessly worked on our songs and has been my sanity when all of this overwhelms me. All in all, thank God for Dan!

In our band, we all contribute equally, musically and just in general. There are so many things happening for us right now and we're taking each day as it comes. We do the very best we can every day and I love being in a band with three of my closest friends. It's really amazing and makes the experience so much more than I thought it could be.

Keep up with Winter Wallace et. al at the band's MySpace page.

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Shea Serrano