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Talking with Sincola is akin to attending a family therapy session. Barbs are traded, quips are tossed about, and interjections are made with the gloves off. Yet the atmosphere is one of laughter and even a twisted form of love and mutual respect, almost as if the band were a new kind of nuclear family for its five members.
As Stivers observes, "I love doing interviews with this band because when we get asked a question, somebody says something, and someone else will jump in going, 'Well, I think...,' and we'll end up arguing."
"Disagreeing," argues Lord.
Yet it's precisely that dynamic that drives Sincola's collective vision and serves as the source of their group-written material. "When you don't have one primary songwriter, it's got its assets and its drawbacks," Stivers explains. "The asset is that you have a lot more input and you tend to be less stale, I think. The drawback is that everyone has something invested in it, and it makes you feel like a full unit," adds Patterson. Since the band functions as a creative collective, song ideas "fall in any way they can, every permutation imaginable," Stivers says.
"It's constantly evolving," Patterson adds.
"It's really nice, because everyone writes differently," notes Cannon. "I think Kris writes really poetically, like literature, with a lot of metaphor, really pretty. And Greg writes these really angsty, bitter love, heartbroken songs, and I do, too. And Terri writes really good pop songs..."
"And I don't write any songs," Pena interjects.
"Yes, you do!" Lord insists.
"Well, not lyrics," Pena shrugs, "because all my lyrics are about suicide and death, and Rebecca doesn't want to sing them."
"You just have to trick her," Stivers says.
But given Cannon's eerie knack for delivering the blood and guts of a song, suicide may not make a suitable subject. Although all five members play their integral roles in Sincola--"If one person leaves, that's it," insists Cannon-- their singer is definitely the band's secret weapon, being a commanding stage presence and an arresting vocalist.
"It's definitely an outlet to do what you can't normally do in public," Cannon says. "It's a really good outlet. I don't know what I'd do without it."
"Masturbate," suggests Pena.
"Yeah, probably," giggles Cannon. "Singing and sex, that's all I have to live for."
But right now, all of them clearly live for the band, which translates into an esprit that should help carry them through the coming months on the road. After all, they've already got a pretty good take on dealing with the opinions of music critics.
"It's weird," notes Lord. "Some reviews say we're being too arty. And other reviews say we don't take enough chances. On those reviews where they say we don't take enough chances, I really wonder if they listened to the last half of the record."
But Cannon thinks she knows the real score. "I decided that that reviewer needed to get laid--the Alternative Press one. She seemed bitter."
And even though the Austin buzz on Sincola has abated while a national one has yet to catch fire, Sincola's not bitter about being last year's model on the local scene. "I really appreciate what Austin has done for us," insists Cannon. "They've really given us everything they could."
"My basic impression is that we swung for the fence and hit a double," concludes Stivers of Sincola's recorded entry into the major leagues. As they come from a city where some of the biggest stars and legends seem stuck playing sandlot ball, that's not bad at all for the first time at bat.
Rob Patterson is a senior writer for the Austin Chronicle.