Earlier this month, Paul Hernandez, the guitar player and vocalist for Fort Worth post-punk band Bummer Vacation, made an announcement. “This next [show] is something I’ve envisioned since day one and finally found the person to help make it possible," he posted to Facebook. "Two piece BV.”
That person is Charley Siess, who has drummed for Dax Riggs, Danny Malone and The Eastern Sea.
It’s hard to imagine Bummer Vacation as a two-piece. The band’s dreamy post-punk has been driven by a traditional lineup of two guitars, a bass and a drum kit.
While Hernandez will retain his role as lead guitarist and vocalist for the band, Siess will provide the drums and run live tracks.
For Hernandez, the two-man lineup “has numerous advantages with the usage of modern technology.” Trimming down the lineup also allowed Hernandez to return to his roots.
“I used to work on
music alone when I was 17-18 and was trying to map it all out back then," he said. “It’s become extremely easy to use live tracks these days. Some people may look down on using tracks, but to me, it’s worth trying again.”
Hernandez also has practical reasons for making Bummer Vacation a two-man operation. “It’s much more manageable to work with one individual versus multiple — coordinating schedules, ideas and, most of all, communication becomes very easy with a one-on-one approach,” he said.
Before Saturday’s show, Hernandez and Siess spent time in Seiss’ studio rehearsing, hoping to work out any kinks. "We are both excited to finally start," Hernandez said.
Hernandez hopes that the addition of synths and some nontraditional instrumentation will add depth to Bummer Vacation's sound. At the band's first performance as a two-piece Saturday night, the laptop it had planned to use to run live tracks malfunctioned. In the true spirit of rock ’n’ roll, the show went on anyway.
"This was not how this night was supposed to go," Hernandez told the audience, "but you know what? I learned a lesson today. I get to come up here and play music, and if I get to play music, what can I be mad about?”
Seiss said the duo just wanted to have fun. "With that mentality, nothing can really go wrong," he said.
“We were just happy to play,” Hernandez added. “Even with everything that happened, it was great to just do it and get it knocked out.”
Fans of Bummer Vacation were happy to see the band in its new form, and few seemed to miss the laptop's contributions.
Alex Mireles, drummer for Bummer Vacation’s opening act, Sub-Sahara, was impressed by the new sound. “Paul managed to make it sound more full," Mireles said. "I can’t wait to see what comes next for them. I think they’ve got great things coming their way."
The band's new lineup has inspired a wave of creativity and productivity for Hernandez. “I’ve been waiting to use song ideas I’ve had for years and [with the new lineup, I] can finally begin working on them," he said.
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“We already have a couple ideas laid out,” Hernandez continued. “We’ll be putting something together starting in February and hopefully have a release ready for August or September.”
The biggest challenge for Bummer Vacation has been getting material recorded.
“We’ve had enough material for a couple albums, but through all the ups and downs, nothing was ever released," Hernandez said. “Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle for years has always been recording and getting a final product that made everyone happy — another reason why the move to a two-piece makes sense for me.”
The band’s name will likely change in time. Hernandez said to “expect a name change eventually, once we run out of merch.”