"Houston is a city we've been playing since the very beginning," says Better than Ezra bassist and backing vocalist Tom Drummond. "I even think we may have sold more records there than anywhere else."
A lot has changed since Better than Ezra's inception more than two decades ago, but Drummond still fondly recollects driving to Houston record stores with boxes full of albums to drop off. He thinks they may have sold more iTunes singles in Houston than anywhere else too, but says that's harder to gauge.
Better than Ezra formed in Baton Rouge and began touring the South in the early days of the band, so Houston is a city that its members are quite familiar with. The band moved to L.A. and recorded their breakthrough success "Deluxe" in 1995 before heading back to Louisiana. And nearly 20 years later, this alternative-rock trio is still going strong -- seven albums to their name, another one already in the works.
"I just got back from Los Angeles, and we tracked maybe eight rhythm tracks for new material," Drummond says. "I don't know if they'll all make it [onto the album], but we're headed down that road, figuring out what we want the new album to sound like and figuring out what songs are the best... It's under way and will hopefully be completed sometime early 2013."
For their show Thursday night at the House of Blues, fans can expect to hear plenty of the band's hits as well as a chance to catch the Grammy-nominated opening five-piece Papa Grows Funk bringing a little New Orleans groove. Drummond, who produced PGF's album Needle in the Grove, is especially excited about coming through Houston during Christmastime.
"I always look forward to shows in Texas near the end of the year," he says. "We've done it four years in a row now, and they always end up being the best shows of the year. I guess people are in the holiday spirit, and it just makes for really fun shows."
For their Christmas shows, BTE has been known to bring horns out onstage, which gives some of their songs a new shape. Though Drummond isn't certain whether that will happen Thursday, he's certain that fans won't be disappointed.
"We like to have fun, that's for sure," Drummond says. "We're high-energy, and we like to get the crowd involved and have a good time."
Thursday night will be just a taste of what BTE have in store for fans. Come February, the band will be hosting their third annual "Krewe of Rockkus," a three-day-long trek through New Orleans with plenty of live music, food and drinks.
"The name is a play on Ruckus and Bacchus," Drummond says. "We just liked the way it sounded. Since we play Mardi Gras every year, we just decided, 'Why don't we do something to make it easy for people?'"
"There's a hotel package, we lay out some events over the three days, and we also give them time to explore New Orleans, because the city during Mardi Gras is unreal," Drummond says. "There's open bar and food, a couple different parades, two shows, and we have a guest band... This year it's Sister Hazel."
Vocalist Emerson Hart of Tonic will also be performing an acoustic set.
"And there's much mischief to be had all in between," he says. "We molded it after the Rock Boat, but instead of being on a boat... The boat is New Orleans."
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