If you’ve tuned into Sirius/XM's Octane channel lately, your ears may have been fortunate enough to hear Galveston-based rock band To Whom It May. Their single “Bypass” is getting rotation on satellite radio's heaviest rock station, no easy feat for a relatively new band. Especially one that has yet to release an EP.
"The response has been overwhelming, maybe even intimidating," laughs drummer Dexas Villarreal. "We’re still writing our album and recording.”
Speaking on the phone to Villarreal about the sudden surge in exposure and popularity he admits the timing may be just what they needed.
“As soon as the song started playing [on XM] people everywhere were like, ‘Where can we find your album?’," he says. "It’s definitely put a fire under our ass to get it done.”
Conceptually, the album is coming together, Villarreal promises.
“We’ve got ideas," he says. "We need to finish fleshing out the skeletons of the songs.”
But Villarreal also isn’t one to submit to pressure. Art takes timing and patience, something he’s very familiar with.
“Our goal is to definitely have it ready by 2016," says Villarreal. "But, we’re not going to rush it either. We don’t want or need that kind of pressure. We will have it ready when it’s ready, you know?”
The bigger question may be, how does a band with no EP — and whose current lineup is less than a year old — end up in the cradle of exposure that is satellite radio? Their friends in Nothing More did a "Takeover" on Octane, Villarreal explains. For those of you stuck in AM/FM, that’s when a band commandeers the airwaves and plays what they’d like to hear. It’s often an opportunity to play their own music, but Nothing More went a step further and also included “Bypass."
“We were very lucky.” Villarreal admits
TWIM's relationship with Nothing More goes back to Villarreal’s former band of nine years, Mellow Vine. The help from NM has been invaluable to TWIM, “Mark Vollelunga [ NM guitarist] loved our band. He said, ‘I want to be a part of this. I want to help any way I can.’ He even helped produce us in-studio when we recorded some tracks.”
Besides Villarreal, the three-piece consists of Jonathan Jourdan on guitar and vocals and Robb Marshall on bass. TWIM maintains Galveston as home base despite the Island’s complete lack of a local rock scene. So why stay?
“For us, a lot of it has to do with family," Villarreal explains. "Me and Jonathan were born here.”
Marshall lives in Spring, though, creating obvious logistical difficulties.
“We do a lot of practicing over the Internet.” laughs Villarreal. “He’s professional enough to handle it on his own and when we come together, we work out all the fine details. It works for us.”
With a sound similar to something like Incubus or Deftones, yet uniquely original in their own right, TWIM's hard-to-define sound is rarely heard on Houston stages. Villarreal takes pride in their inability to be pegged.
“To be honest, I’d say we’re rock. So many people get caught up in sub-genres and predetermined ideas of what you should sound like…I think it really throws people off and turns them off, too. I mean we’re rock, but we’re slow and melodic at times too.”
Songs like “Ghost” are soft and harmonic with a heavy rock beat, while “Bypass” is easily one of TWIM's harder tunes. And as cool as radio play may be, it’s not their only claim to success. The group has also picked up some pretty impressive sponsors, names like Ernie Ball, Carvin Guitars, Soultone Cymbals and Drumtacs. Naturally, their ultimate wish is to be endorsed by a record label.
Sponsors are sorely needed for TWIM. Sadly, the band has already hit hard times when bassist Marshall was robbed in June. A backpack full of video gear and a computer was stolen, all before they were due to tour.
At first, the band didn’t feel comfortable asking for donations to replace the items, but fans interested in helping out can do so here.
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“Pride is a weird thing," allows Villarreal. "It was seriously a low blow for us. We’re just a band. That stuff was bought on credit, you know? We’re still paying on [equipment] we don’t even have anymore.”
Yet through all that, the boys of TWIM are staying optimistic, doing what they can to make more money and get noticed.
“You have to tour," the drummer says. "Bands don’t make money off CDs anymore. You sell merch, you play some gigs...it’s just pocket change, but it helps pay your bills.”
Hear more from To Whom it May at their Web site. The band performs tonight at Acadia Bar & Grill, 3939 Cypress Creek Pkwy., with special guests the Lotus Effect, Gatsby's Green Light Band and Black Market Tragedy. Doors open at 7 p.m.