By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
It's been five years now since Slow Roosevelt decided to end its run as Dallas' perennial Next Big Thing that never quite was.
The band, which for most of its seven-year existence was the go-to choice for the top kinda-metal act in town (according, at least, to the vote counts of our own Dallas Observer Music Awards' "Best Metal" categories of that era), played its final show on March 19, 2004, at the Curtain Club.
All of a sudden, even with the help of Sony releasing the band's final record, Weightless, overseas, it was over. The dreams of major rock stardom had faded. Slow Roosevelt was no more. And, as quickly as the band's members said their goodbyes, they hastily moved on with their lives. Drummer Aaron Lyons joined up with a country band he still tours with today. Guitarist Scott Minyard joined The Mother Truckin' Skull Diggers, a band that still frequently pops up on bills around town. Bassist Mark Sodders moved to Los Angeles—and, go figure, found his calling in the prickly world of acupuncture. Frontman Pete Thomas, meanwhile, stayed local, and though he formed two new bands, the now-defunct The Beautiful Disaster and The Black Hills, he, too, formed a life outside of the local music scene: He's now a practicing psychologist.
Still, a few months back, like so many other Dallas bands of that same era, Slow Roosevelt decided that it couldn't stay away, that it wanted just one more go-round in the spotlight. And like the Toadies, Brutal Juice and Ugly Mus-tard before it, Slow Roosevelt will indeed reunite this weekend for a one-off gig at the Curtain Club.
"After a while, there's enough of an itch to try it again," Thomas says. "Even if it is just for one show."
And, oddly enough, it was the glut of recent reunions—the same thing that had originally kept Thomas from scratching that itch—that eventually convinced him to go ahead with it.
"We always kind of toyed around with [the idea of reuniting]," Thomas says. "And then everybody started doing reunion shows. For a little bit, it seemed to put a bad taste in our mouths. [But] for me, it was actually going to some of those shows and seeing all them come back to life and come off so well."
But why now? Given the number of recent reunions from even older bands (like '70s punk rockers The Nervebreakers a few weeks back at Club Dada) and even club reunions (over the past year, Dallas has seen long-closed nightclubs from the yesteryear, like Red Jacket and The Basement, hold their own one-night, nostalgia-filled get-togethers), that seems the most obvious question. But Thomas balks when searching for an answer. Maybe, he guesses, it's just a reverence for the olden days, the golden times so many elder scenes-men talk so lovingly about, the era in which music, it seemed, was king of Dallas night life and Deep Ellum reigned supreme as its hub.
"Personally, to me, that time, five to seven years ago, was when the music scene was at its top," Thomas says. "That was such a good time."
Not just in his mind either. What's been so stunning about the recent reunion streak isn't just that these bands are getting together, but that five, 10 and even 15 years after the fact, people are still interested. Driving past the Curtain Club last Saturday night was proof enough: Even at its second reunion show in the past six months, Ugly Mus-tard appeared to draw nearly as big a crowd to the venue as any other act in recent memory. (Well, any act not named Fair to Midland.) Fact is, there's clearly a want here—something Thomas wasn't so sure about when he and his Slow Roosevelt bandmates first bounced around the idea late in 2008.
"At first, I was worried if people might even remember us," he says. "But we've been getting MySpace messages and everything, and people seem interested, so it seems like it's going to be a pretty big deal."
Most likely, it will be. For better or worse, nostalgia is en vogue in the Dallas music scene. And while this is no doubt frustrating to a degree—scores of talented, current local acts would die for these kinds of turnouts to their no-less-impressive displays—it's also fairly encouraging. For the younger music fans, these nights serve as an example of what the Deep Ellum scene once was, and perhaps, what it could once again be.
"Yeah, there's an elephant graveyard for musicians," Thomas says, "but I guess we're now learning that we can be resurrected."
And because those other reunions have gone off so well, Thomas says, Slow Roosevelt has been working since January on its own resurrection, flying in Sodders from Los Angeles on a regular basis to ensure that the band is prepared for the hour-and-a-half-long set it's expecting to play on Saturday night.
"We're going to overdo it," Thomas says with a laugh.
But is there more to it? Perhaps something Freudian to be gleaned from these reunions?
Thomas, now referencing his psychological work, laughs again.
"It's absolute, pure narcissism," he says before correcting himself. "No, it's just nice that after everyone's gone their separate ways, we can all get back together again."