For the record, Sara Houser is okay with observers calling her band, Löwin, a female-fronted act; but, she says, there’s no need to overstate the obvious. Doing so means missing out on a lot and there’s a lot to like about the Austin band, which visits Notsuoh this Friday.
“For the first few years we were asked a lot to play ‘female-fronted’ bills which I initially rallied behind because it was a great way to encourage diversity when booking shows, but over time it just felt like the idea was being exploited. Like it was a, ‘Oh wow,
Houser is front and center
“Hearing our music on the radio or meeting people who don't know me personally but love my songs is always a really big deal to me,” Houser said.
Those moments are becoming more commonplace for the band thanks to the work they've done. Houser said Löwin has been releasing singles periodically, including its most recent, "Ghost of Mine." It has a pair in the queue, currently being mixed by Stuart Sikes, who has worked with The White Stripes, Modest Mouse, and fellow Austin bands like Sweet Spirit and Otis the Destroyer. Houser said the band is working towards a full-length album release early next year.
"Probably the self-help section,” Houser says with a laugh. “I write songs for myself a lot to pull me out of whatever dark thing I've gotten sucked into. So, I suppose autobiographical works too.”
The band formed four years ago, she said, “in the wake of a former band, The Couch, calling it quits. I started sending phone demos to Chris and we jammed as a two-piece while I wrote new tunes. I'd known and played shows with Nathan's other band, Young Tongue - formerly The Baker Family - and really liked his style of bass playing. Michael had been a fan of the band and through mutual friends found out we needed a new guitar player. It all happened pretty organically through the music scene in Austin and our friends.”
Houser said the band is excited to see new and familiar faces Friday night.
“We haven't been back to Houston in a couple years. We played at Walter's and had a good turnout for a band that wasn't from Houston. There are a lot of musicians that live in Houston that I really respect - Dollie Barnes, John Allen Stephens, Rose Ette, The Suffers - so it's been an important city to me musically when I'm booking any kind of regional touring for us," Houser said.
“I love tour because you get to potentially play for people that have never heard of you," she continued. "I consider a tour successful if we sell merch and play to a crowd - any size is fine - that has a good time. Bonuses would be zero car trouble, no lost or stolen gear and free places to crash.”
Houser said the band plans a brief hiatus following the current run. She’s getting married soon, then plans to complete the album and “hit every year harder than the previous one. More recording, more touring.”
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And, more of being defined by the effort and the music the band creates rather than just the gender of its front person.
“A reviewer once wrote about one of our early shows, 'The fact that she can kick so much ass and look killer in a dress at the same time makes Löwin doubly awesome.' Eye Roll City, USA,” she says. “While I'm proud to be a woman in music and I own my femininity, I never want to be made to feel like it's marginalizing my work ethic or musicianship, which can happen with the whole ‘female-fronted’ business.
"Yes, we are women but we also have our own identities. Lumping every female-fronted band into one category does every band that has worked to create their own sound a disservice.”
Löwin returns to Houston with new songs and lots of momentum 9 p.m. Friday at Notsuoh, 314 Main. With Chicago’s North by North and King Finn. Free.