Frog Hair is a relatively new rock project by four grizzled Houston scene veterans: Pedro Yruegaz (drums), J.J. White (guitar), Scott Ayers (guitar, lap steel) and Michael Haaga (bass). After beginning a year ago as a two-piece guitar and drums experiment, Yruegaz and White eventually asked former deadhorse guitarist Haaga to join them in recording. Ayers was recruited after seeing the band at an early Continental Club show.
Ayers, a veteran of visionary noise band Pain Teens as well as Walking Timebombs, seems overjoyed at the prospect of the band’s in-progress recording and with the live dates. He describes the project as organic.
“Michael knows J.J. from work, so it was sort of a natural thing for them to bring him in,” he says. “Then I bumped into Michael at a Jandek show, and he told me about Frog Hair, so I went to see them at the Continental and there was Jandek down front dancing. It was right after that gig that they asked me to do some recording with them, and playing gigs just sort of fell in with that. So far it’s been a lot of fun.”
Ayers has long been one of the local sound gurus. The Pain Teens were known for using samples, tape manipulation and other cutting-edge recording techniques in assembling their albums. For the current Frog Hair recording project, Ayers notes the band has been using a mobile unit set up in the upstairs section of the old Rockefeller’s building.
What brought Ayers into the fold was the songs that White and Yruegaz had already recorded demos of in mid-2015. Ayers waxes poetic when describing the tunes.
“They’re noisy, poppy, song-ly and progressive,” he says. “The challenge that we’ve had to keep in mind is to not overwhelm the songs with too much stuff, you know. Too much tinkering can ruin a song, and we’re all trying to be very mindful of not doing that.”
Haaga, whose last project post-deadhorse was The Plus Minus Show, had been lying low for a few years until he was approached about recording with the band. He too was captivated at first by the songs.
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“I was immediately drawn to the lo-fi, almost folksy sound of those demos,” says Haaga. “You have to realize that there’s only one drum, a hi-hat, and a tambourine. But the drums are played with mallets, so there’s plenty of boom in the mix. He beats the shit out of the drum on every track.
“To be honest, on some levels it’s grown into a different version of what was there originally," he adds. "Once you start adding a bunch of rock instruments, it’s inevitable that there will be new directions, but we wanted to stay as true to the original songs as possible. We’re all sort of gear/sound nerds, so it’s been a challenge to keep from overdoing things, tinkering too much.”
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While he likes the tunes and the direction the band is heading, it was more a feeling that brought Haaga into the fold.
“I like that there are no big expectations; it’s almost like no one cares,” he notes. “It’s very low-key. Right now we just want to finish the record, then we’ll see what happens. But we don’t have big touring plans or any of that. For now this is essentially a local project. But you never know. Right now we need to mix the album, and we aren't sure yet if someone outside will mix it or if we'll do that. Then I suppose we do a couple of lo-tech videos, put them out there, see if anyone finds it interesting."
Frog Hair performs with Lick Lick, OddKnee, and Luna Lunacy tonight at Rudyard’s British Pub, 2010 Waugh. Doors open at 9 p.m.