Musicians and music venues were one of the first sectors affected by the sudden cessation of social activities due to COVID-19 leaving countless people scrambling for a way to share their art and make rent.
Houston’s Frog Hair is no exception. The band was scheduled to release their sophomore album, Mouse In The Belly Of The Snake and embark on a summer tour in support of their long awaited album, but all plans came to a halt with the coronavirus.
Frog Hair has decided to move forward with their release in the only way they can right now, digitally. The album was released on Bandcamp on April 10 and will become available on other streaming platforms in the following weeks.
“It is almost like a point of comfort,” says bassist Whitney Andrew. “The idea of being able to put this record out and it even being a little distraction or just something that people can get excited about.”
“We want to participate and we want to try to be with people right now. We can't go be anywhere and we can't play shows for anybody. It's sort of within us all to entertain that’s why we’re musicians, so I think it's as much for our mental health as it is for the aid that we feel we can give other people,” she adds.
Frog Hair has been entertaining Houston as a band since 2016 but collectively all of the band members have been playing around town for decades. Founding members JJ White, previously of Dizzy Pilot, teamed up with PJ Yruegaz on drums to birth Frog Hair creating the psychedelic country sound that they have become known for.
When White and Yruegaz decided it was time for a bassist, they went to Houston legend Mike Haaga of Dead Horse, who no longer is in the band but played on their most recent release.
“It’s a mixed bag of talent,” says Andrew, who took over on bass almost two and half years ago. “Everybody comes from pretty different backgrounds. JJ himself is the song writer, you wouldn’t know it by looking at him but he's also the talent,” she laughs. "We've all come to know each other, play to our strengths and give space for each other."
Frog Hair also counts on another familiar face in the Houston music scene, Scott Ayers, formerly of Pain Teens. Ayers recorded Mouse In The Belly Of The Snake in his home studio and added his own flavor while in the mixing process. The band's previous album, A Long List Of Shortcomings was recorded in an empty Rockefellers Hall.
Andrew describes the benefit of having Ayers mixing the album to help create their sound, sometimes using little more than a demo recorded on a cell phone. “Having Scott go through it with his particular way of exercising music, manipulating tracks and creating something out of nothing in some scenarios,” she says.
The band beautifully represents all of the historically strange music to come out of Texas, from the Thirteenth Floor Elevators to the Butthole Surfers, while carrying the warm familiarity of a good country song in their simple yet heartfelt lyrics.
“I think we sound like John Prine on acid,” describes Andrew prior to the sad and untimely passing of the beloved songwriter and she's not far off from the impression the band makes through their music.
With Mouse In The Belly Of The Snake, Frog Hair keeps it short and sweet. The album begins with the distorted sounds of “Crash And Burn” with White grumbling about “dropping his last penny in the wishing well” while accompanied by collective ghostly moans of his band mates.
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The album moves along quickly weaving between effects, distortion and sounds that are more sweet and natural creating a creepy yet endearing vibe. The final track “Haywire” hits the nail on the head for the current surreal situation we all find ourselves in asking listeners if they’ve ever been on the "verge of going haywire" with singer Erin Dance providing sugary vocals.
Frog Hair had this album on the books for sometime but due to changes within the band they found themselves pushing the release back prior to the Covid-19 changes. They have even had enough time to be knee deep into their next album and are hoping that Mouse In The Belly Of The Snake can help guarantee them a physical release of their third album this year.
“I’m telling you, Frog Hair has the worst luck, it’s almost endearing. These guys are the most talented, sweet and deserving underdogs I think I’ve ever met,” says Andrew. “I’m very happy to be around these guys and be working with them I would definitely had been wanting to put this record out even if I wasn’t in this band.”
Frog Hair plans on releasing loads of “frog content” to give audiences a socially distanced glimpse into the group dynamic. Stay tuned to their social media pages as they are planning a live stream of the band performing songs from the album.