No Dry County is a Texan indie band with a sound that combines rootsy Americana, folk, and classic rock, brilliantly displayed in close harmonies and a lively stage presence. Their first full-length album, The Night Before, was just released this March. Recently the band’s vocalist Trent Langford took the time to talk to Wanda Waterman about their name, their current activities, and the creative context of Lubbock, Texas.
How did you come up with your band’s name?
The short answer is that we didn’t. All of our current lineup actually joined No Dry County (NDC), beginning with myself, in 2009. I had actually opened for NDC that year, and after losing their lead singer they invited me to join. The story goes that when the band got together, Lubbock was voting on a proposition to make the county wet. Advertisements were around town reading “No Dry County” and, likely as a joke, the band used that name for their first show.
What influence has Lubbock, or Texas in general, had on the development of your sound?
Around here, Bob Will’s is king, of course. He was innovative in the way he combined music from different cultures and was one of the first people to use electric guitars and amplified instruments to keep the old dance halls swingin.’ Buddy Holly inspired the Beatles, and the Flatlanders jammed with The Clash.
Every day we’re greeted by an endless open horizon. The wind blows through countless numbers of wind chimes hanging on grandmothers’ porches and the songs and drums of the Comanche echo in the canyons of the Palo Duro. The paintings of Georgia O’Keefe were forever changed when she witnessed our sunsets.
Explosions in the Sky gave us the first glimpse of a literal musical translation of our landscape. Combining those elements with the storytelling of the Outlaw movement, 80’s and 90’s country harmonies, and infectious choruses, gets us somewhere close.
But, being from the panhandle, we sort of have an obligation to not be tied down by any one genre, and the mixture of any and everything, including the minimal space-driven beats of modern hip hop, make their way in here and there.
If your band’s life was a movie, what kinds of scenes would fill it?
Most of our time as a band is spent on the road just figuring out how to survive, in a sense. Scenes from the film Into The Wild come to mind, as we’ve spent the majority of our twenties living what most would call an “alternative lifestyle”? sleeping on couches and playing for tips while most of our contemporaries mortgaged houses and started careers.
We constantly meet a variety of people from different backgrounds, many who have become close friends. The whole thing is really a gamble of sorts and the endgame may not always be clear, but the experience itself in many ways makes the decision worthwhile.
What conditions do you require in your life in order to go on being creative? What do you feed your muse? Are there any books, films, or albums that have deeply influenced your development as an artist?
It’s important for me to retire from the daily grind at times to kick-start the creative process. I deal with a lot of the day-to-day business of keeping a band moving, and it can be easy to begin spending more time promoting the art than with the art itself.
I recently read Walk On, which details the spiritual journey of the band U2. Books like that allow me to keep growing intellectually and can help to keep the music from becoming stagnant. We’re also trying to get away as a band more, aside from playing shows, to clear our heads and see what we can come up with creatively outside of our normal environment.
If you had an artistic mission statement, what would it be?
“Make good music. Play it for anyone with a desire to listen.”
Tell us about your current and upcoming projects.
We’re just wrapping up about 13 weeks of CD release shows in support of The Night Before and will take off much of June around my wedding on the 20th. This fall we are making an east coast run and hopefully will start making plans to get back in the studio in some form or fashion during the early part of 2016.
Wanda also writes the blog The Mindful Bard:The Care and Feeding of the Creative Self.