By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
A few years ago, downstairs at Sons of Hermann Hall, the wooden staircases and walls started to shake as two bands in the room above played a song that sounded like something off of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Four guitars played one bendy riff at top volume, and drums pounded like wrecking balls. The song was called "Bloody Basin," and the two bands onstage were [DARYL] and Black Tie Dynasty.
Now, in 2009, you could say this was a defining transition moment for Dylan Silvers.
Silvers, who co-fronted Post From Vermont in the late '90s and led [DARYL] for half of the following decade, had wanted to start a new band for a while. Seeing that [DARYL] and Black Tie Dynasty had recorded a split EP and toured together, Silvers proposed the idea of a new band to Black Tie's drummer, Eddie Thomas—and it made perfect sense, really.
"After we had done the Bloody Basin sessions, and I had played with Eddie in the studio, I knew that it felt real good," Silvers remembers now.
And so the foundations for The Crash That Took Me were set.
But long before there was a band called as much, the name was the title of the final song on [DARYL]'s second proper album, Ohio. Silvers was set on naming his next band that name no matter what—even if it was a mouthful and sounded, well, very emo. [DARYL] had released a half-dozen albums, toured quite a bit and had three significant lineup changes, but for the last year or so of its existence, the band seemed on autopilot. Most shows were fast run-throughs of songs the members had already played over and over. Coupled with friends of the band coming up onstage and dancing along to a cover of Operation Ivy's "Knowledge," [DARYL] seemed more like a party than a band. And Silvers wanted something different.
Specifically, he wanted to combine his love of late-'60s pop and early-'90s shoegaze into Crash's sound. An embryonic version of the band debuted at an Idol Records showcase at the CMJ music festival in New York. There, Silvers and Thomas were joined by Thomas' wife, Fatima, on bass.
The proverbial ball had begun to roll. Recruiting Beau Wagener, a member of [DARYL]'s final lineup and a former member of Macavity, was a logical choice in the band's fledgling lineup. So, too, was Seth Bohlman, a longtime friend and former bandmate in Macavity. By the time Crash played its first show in Dallas at the Double Wide, the band was a sextet with three guitars and a keyboard to go with its bass and drums. Whether or not it was the fact that the new band featured members from three very popular DFW bands at the time, The Crash That Took Me headlined and sold out the show.
But what debuted was almost nothing like what people had come to expect from a [DARYL] show: There were strobe lights and filmed visuals playing behind the band. And, as the band went through its set, songs such as "Faster Than the Light," "Two Yellow Suns" and "Julianne" immediately gripped the crowd. These people wanted to hear the band's then-forthcoming debut, Orchestrated Kaleidoscopes, as soon as possible.
In the following months, buzz grew and grew for the band—thanks, at least in part, to the placement of "Julianne" on a benefit CD for former Observer music critic Zac Crain's bid for mayor of Dallas.
Following the eventual release of the debut album, the band played quite a bit in various places around the area—and toured around the country too. The initial appreciation of Crash's sound continued; people seemed very attached to the band—even people who didn't like [DARYL] seemed to love Crash.
But trends and taste can be odd in the digital age. One year, bloggers and message board members will praise the hell out of a band's new album. When that band's following album is released, these same people often move onto something else and make light of the previous praise.
Now with a second album, Chlorine-Colored Eyes, ready to go, and a release party planned for this Saturday night at Sons of Hermann Hall, the now seven-piece Crash is trying its best to ensure that the initial praise it received continues.
Part of the band's relevancy plan: having the novelty of being just the second release on the new, Silver-run "art pop" imprint on Idol Records, Exploding Plastic. Another part: not playing every other weekend at the same venues in town.
"I personally think that, right now, if you want to make a splash, if you want everyone to get together and have fun, it becomes redundant," Wagener says. "It becomes 'whatever,' when you see the same band four times and come to the same places. If you get out there and play different times, each time it's a little more special. I'm not saying it's this grandiose thing whenever we play, but at least no one gets sick of it."
Then, of course, there's the third, and most important, part of the equation: The band's got a whole slew of new songs to perform. And that the band's brand of bombastic art-pop is unique to itself among the many acts scrambling for recognition about town certainly helps too.
"Now the next step," Bohlman says, "is how to make the show big and also play to new people."
Whereas The Crash That Took Me had the luxury of relying on its members' earlier bands' fans with its last record, that given has suddenly become a question mark.
"It's the same way Dallas has always been—even in the heyday of all [our] bands," Bohlman says. "The odd thing that's always so shitty about Dallas is that people are really supportive, but there's also that undercurrent of 'So what?'"
"I just think there needs to be a positive spin on stuff," Wagener adds—but not without quickly acknowledging that this thought, too, is all part of the band's plan. "That bleeds into the goal now for our new things... because it's so split right now."