As a kid I would turn on the radio once in a while, and, if I accidentally happened to hit an '80s station, would immediately change the channel. Later on I learned to appreciate bands like The Cure, The Smiths and even random danceable one-hit wonder tracks. No time for brooding when you’re dancing.
Vodi has a similar effect. After playing under his own name for a while, late last year Houston musician Tom Lynch decided to step away from the singer-songwriter role.
“I took a break and Tank [Lisenbe] and I got together and I basically said, 'I’m bored, let's go into the studio and do some songs,'" Lynch says. "I enjoy doing singer-songwriter stuff, sitting at the house playing or recording, but I wanted to play an electric guitar again live and feel like I was bringing more emotion to the playing.
"Basically I just wanted to rock," he continues. "Do something different that was more in line with the stuff I was listening to, like Springsteen and Bowie and The Beatles. Talking Heads more recently. I just wanted to do something differently, and the plan was we didn’t write anything until the night before or the day of.”
There is plenty of time for brooding on the singles “Talk” and “Pressure,” which Vodi has released over the past year. Influences like Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty come to mind, as well as more recent bands like The War on Drugs and Ryan Adams. Vodi’s name, though, relies more on aesthetic value.
“It has zero meaning — I just made up a word," admits Lynch. "I was throwing some names at Haley [wife/bandmate Barnes] and everything sounded stupid. Finally I thought of what word would look good and in my head it was VODI, and she liked it. Turns out it’s also an Irish sports apparel store, and also we get a lot of questions about people’s phone contracts from India. So hopefully no cease and desist letters in our future.”
Vodi begin a four-week Tuesday residency tonight at downtown local-music incubator the Nightingale Room. Recently the group began playing shows outside of Houston, with two shows at Galveston’s Old Quarter and VFW 880 through Island promoters Wake The Zine. “The reason we got to play down there was the band El Lago," explains Lynch. "We met them at a Dollie [Barnes] show and thought they sounded great. So we talked to them and we played at VFW the first time we went down and it was packed.
"They have a really good scene down there," he continues. "Wake the Zine is like their zine down there, and they put shows together. They don’t really have a venue and they use whatever venue they can find. Last time we went down there we played the Old Quarter, and it’s generally an acoustic café where people like Townes Van Zandt used to play.”
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The driving beat on "Talk" makes you want to dance at the same time that it makes you want to listen to what’s being said — that sometimes you just need to shut up and listen. "Pressure" is a shimmering slow burner that recalls a conversation about love in its early beginnings, something you know is right but whose intensity can be daunting. Barnes’s vocals swoop in at the perfect time in the chorus to perfectly complement Lynch's vocals. The play of synthesizers with the simple beat of the songs pulls you in as the song's ending signals acceptance with the refrain “It’s all right, I’m feeling the pressure, babe."
“A lot of it is relationship stuff between Haley and I before we were married," Lynch says. "I remember we were at Agora, and we don’t fight, just get really tense. So we had some sort of a thing and I walked her to her car. When I was walking back to my car, I was humming a tune in my head and I scribbled it down in a notepad I had in my car and recorded it real quick.”
Vodi begin their monthlong Tuesday residency tonight at the Nightingale Room (308 Main) with special guests Handsomebeast. Doors open at 7 p.m.