By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
The Trishas knew from the start they were onto something special. Brought together to perform a couple songs at a 2009 tribute for songwriter Kevin Welch, that first practice set the tone, which was only hinted at on their 2010 EP, They Call Us the Trishas. On debut LP High, Wide & Handsome, they find their stride.
Yet for all the obvious creative spark the Austin group shares, they moved forward tentatively at first. It wasn't until after the EP's release that they chose to go for it. The Trishas — Liz Foster (Liz and Lincoln), Kelley Mickwee (Jed & Kelly), Jamie Wilson (Gougers) and Savannah Welch (Dustin Welch Band) — had been making music and touring, most of them for more than a decade, so they knew how tenuous a band's chemistry could be, especially with two babies joining them in the passenger van. Besides, they really weren't that into women.
"We were all kind of guys' girls," Mickwee says. "So it's pretty amazing we all like to spend time with each other. I mean, we have to, but we would anyway."
One of the big differences between the EP and LP is the eclecticism. Songs now all have their own distinct flavor, ranging from the shuddering cabaret crawl of Foster's "Cold-Blooded Love" to the succulent Southern soul of Mickwee's "Rainin' Inside" and the bluegrass-hued "Cheater's Game," written by Foster, Welch and Bruce Robison.
There's great depth to the lyrics as well. "Gold and silver are very hard to come by, love is purer, it don't shine," notes Foster on the exultant final track, "Gold & Silver." On the album's striking first single, "Mother of Invention," Wilson keenly notes the virtues of living simply: "Lack of creature comforts makes you pay more attention." It's something they encountered recently, when their drummer quit.
"[It's] definitely a comfort having a drummer back there laying down the beat and rhythm," Mickwee says. "But when he quit, we decided to pull all the drums up front and play them ourselves. That's what we do now."
She credits the two-and-a-half years between releases with giving them time to develop a wealth of songs. They went in with 60 and came out with 15, about half of which were unanimous choices for inclusion. For mandolin player Mickwee, it was the first time she'd written a song. In the end, she wound up with three co-writes with outside songwriters and two more with her mates.
"I was and still am really green, but I had these girls around me going, 'You can write a song. I know you can.' We love each other very much like sisters and we make each other laugh. Obviously, we have our moments, and they're not really major moments."
Indeed, the band's been pestered with offers to do a reality TV series, but Mickwee's skeptical. While four women riding around the country making music together and caring for children may sound like a lot of drama, it's remarkably trouble-free.
"We kinda all get along," Mickwee says. "We go play our gigs, make our decision and all those things happen smoothly. We could do your TV show, but you would be disappointed and we'd be canceled immediately. We just wouldn't be able to deliver the drama."
They save it all for their songs, she adds.
"It's one of the easiest relationships I've ever been in."