Members of the Real McCoys discuss a couple of their favorite Houston barflies, those sotted and sometimes sordid characters who lurk in local drinkeries day and night. Without naming names, they share exploits of booze guzzlers who “never lose a battle against alcohol.” It’s a gritty subject, but one close to the hearts of the band, which just released a new album titled Barfly. Houston Underground hosts the official record release this Saturday and the band expects the moment to be celebrated with some degree of drunken revelry.
“We have a song called ‘Barfly’ that we didn't include in the album because we couldn't record a decent version of it,” laughs Daniel “Barty” Rodriguez, the band’s guitarist. “But, also pretty much all we sing about is drinking, or some barflies we've crossed paths with.”
Rodriguez said the band’s been known for its own quaffing abilities. He said he’s also a Charles Bukowski fan and turned his bandmates – vocalist/guitarist Joshua Raught, drummer Tommy Alba and bassist Jeremiah Gonzalez – onto the boorish, uninhibited writer’s work. Barfly just seemed like the right title for an album made by and for dedicated drinkers.
“Our favorite drinks are whiskey and beer, that's about all you'll find at our practice space or shows,” Rodriguez continues. “When it comes to whiskey, we do really like 1835. For beer, our drummer is assiduous of the locally brewed. Lots of Shiner too, and Josh is a huge fan of Guinness.”
Barfly is the Real McCoys’ second album in its two-year existence. Last year’s Folk Drunk was included in the Houston Press list of best local releases. That one was a collection of hummable earwigs with frequently wry and sometimes poignant lyrics. Influences like NOFX and the Pogues were noticeable. A first listen of Barfly suggests the band ain’t fixing what wasn’t broke. Standouts include “Trippin’ Up the Stairs,” sing-along ready “Koala Bear Guacamole,” and, of course, a song titled “The Hangover.” “Wait for Summer” is a tasty slice of pop punk pie that's sweeter because of the local ingredients. The album even features a certain special guest prattling on about Chiiiina! on “Troubled Waters,” a 90-second political commentary that would make Fat Mike and El Hefe pretty proud.
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“We were already working on some of the songs right after we released Folk Drunk in May 2016. Then it kinda just felt like it was time to record again,” said Raught, the band’s lead vocalist and a Houston punk rock veteran with roots embedded in days with the Dead Rabbits and underground cult faves HaHa 90!. “By April the whole album was pretty much defined but life happens. Tommy had a baby in May, we all have jobs and it took us longer than expected and we finally released it this past October.”
Rodriguez and Raught explained how Barfly is different from Folk Drunk.
“It was the first time me and Josh wrote some songs together, differently from the first album where he already had all the songs and basically just needed the band,” Rodriguez said.
“First of all, Jeremy joined us on bass after our first little tour last summer. We also are way more solid as a band and as friends, or a 'family' now after our first year of playing together and figuring each other out,” Raught added. “We all cooperated on the process of writing Barfly in one way or another. Spent a lot more time working on it and also got the opportunity to upgrade some of our recording gear which gives this album a better, higher- quality sound.”
When Raught talks about friends and family in the band experience it’s not just rhetoric. His brother Micah, who is in Dead Rabbits, guests on Barfly tracks. The band’s roadie and number one fan, Jacob Berg, contributed. They even reached out to friends for the album’s eye-catching artwork.
“The album art was a collab between Ella Marie Goode and Brian Dibala, amazing Houston artists that put our ideas together and did a mind-blowing job,” Rodriguez noted. “We also got an amazing flyer done for the album release show by one of my best friends, Martin 'Gordo' Buquet, all the way back home in Montevideo, Uruguay. That makes the whole album extra special for having all these hometown friends in it.”
They’ve tabbed some friends for the release show, too. Openers include rocksteady specialists Always Guilty and Slummer, the act formerly known as Radio Flyer and the Wagoneers.
“Also, a year ago me and Josh went to an open mike without knowing we were gonna meet one of Houston's best kept secrets, Markell Gibson, one of the most amazing songwriters we've heard, and we finally booked a show with them and are super excited about it,” Rodriguez said. “He and his band will be opening up with their beautiful, touching songs and his enchanting voice. Also, if you've ever been to any of our shows, we're gonna have all the props we always have, and some surprises to make this night a blast, ‘McBois’ style.”
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Rodriguez said the album is available on the McCoys’ Bandcamp page. It’s also on Spotify, Google Play and other major streaming platforms. There will be $5 copies available at the release show. Out-of-towners – including a growing Real McCoys fan base in Europe, and specifically Germany - are encouraged to contact the band via Facebook for copies.
The release show will practically double as an anniversary show. The band formed two years ago and played its first set at Folxmas in December 2015. Rodriguez said it’s been two years of creativity and good times.
“As for highlights, our hotel room in Denver caught fire at 4 a.m. and, after our roadie Jacob made sure all the beer was safe and sound, we had to sleep in our cars for a few hours. Also we had a (former) band member leave us to sell pretzels at the mall. It's been a very wild ride.”
Houston Underground, 850 McKee, hosts the album release for Real McCoys' Barfly 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. With Markell Gibson Band, Always Guilty and Slummer. $5.