Pink panthers

Calling Pinkston a new band is a bit of a misnomer, even though it hasn't yet been a year since the quartet's first show. Sure, that was Pinkston's first show together, but it wasn't each member's first ever -- not by a long shot. Pinkston is a band of young veterans, the sort often called a supergroup simply because even casual local music fans can probably recognize all of the members. It would be more accurate to refer to Pinkston as a new machine built from familiar parts, the same car with a bigger engine and a better stereo.

One look at them, and it's easy to see how singer-bassist Beth Clardy Lewis, guitarists Josh Daugherty and Ean Parsons, and drummer Ben Burt came together. No six degrees needed, not even to be divided between the four of them. While Clardy Lewis was fronting rubberbullet, her now-husband Todd Lewis' band, The Toadies, often played with Earl, Daugherty's former group. And Burt and Parsons were brothers in Denton's fraternity of noise while in Brutal Juice and Record Player, respectively. They didn't have to look very hard to find each other, because they were all standing in the same place.

It all began to come together in the summer of 1998 when Clardy Lewis and Daugherty were introduced. They worked at neighboring restaurants in Deep Ellum and started talking shop -- music, not food. Daugherty was bandless after the breakups of Earl -- and later, Union Watts -- and it wouldn't be long before Clardy Lewis left rubberbullet after spending five years with the group she formed with drummer Earl Harvin. She had a stockpile of ideas, since Harvin had essentially put the group on hold while he worked with his jazz group, Earl Harvin Trio, and toured with Seal and various other bands. And Daugherty was also ready to find an outlet for the music he'd been writing.

"We started hanging out together and talking about music," Daugherty says. "It worked, so we started writing a few rough songs together. She wrote some lyrics to some song ideas that I had just so we could have some material to work on while we were finding members. We did that for a couple of months and gathered together whatever musicians we could." The pair played with bassists Chad Deatley (Doosu) and Bart Rogers (formerly of Baboon) and drummer Skred, a bartender at Trees. Then Parsons joined the band on guitar, and Clardy Lewis learned to play bass, solidifying the current lineup.

"Skred thought he was going to move, so we stopped playing with him," Daugherty recalls. "Then Ben became available and joined the band. We practiced for eight months and played a show. And a year later, we're releasing a CD."

Pinkston's CD, a five-song self-titled EP, will be released by Last Beat Records at a show at Trees on January 14, which is exactly one year to the day of the band's first show, which was also, coincidentally, at Trees. It's all gone by so fast; in the year since the band's public debut, Pinkston will have recorded an album, signed to a label, and released their first CD.

Though the faces and previous bands are familiar, any assumptions about the band based on prior releases are likely to be wrong. Pinkston isn't a hard-edged rawk band akin to the avant rubberbullet or even the more straightforward Earl; it's far from that. In fact, excepting Burt's stint with The Tomorrowpeople and his current position behind the drum kit in Weener, this is the most pop band any of them has worked with. The contrast between Pinkston and their previous projects isn't lost on Clardy Lewis.

"I feel like the other bands we've been in are always going to serve as an influence and serve as a reference point," she says. "But we've made a conscious effort and will keep making an effort to allow ourselves to experience new sounds through Pinkston. We make every effort to continually explore new sounds we're capable of doing and pulling it off," she says.

Pinkston's new sounds aren't "new" as in experimental like rubberbullet or even Brutal Juice. It's catchy but not simple: The songs are dual-guitar-driven but not three-minute versus-chorus-versus standards. There are layers -- a guitar solo here, a rhythm part there, and harmonies that Clardy Lewis and Burt form so tightly, the distinction between the two voices sometimes gets blurred. Elements are unmasked that were always hidden in the walls of noise constructed by their former outlets, which isn't to say Pinkston isn't loud. It is, and planning to get even louder. But the members aren't planning to throw away what they've found with each other.

"Josh does most of the song-writing," Clardy Lewis says. "He brings in ideas for music, and [using] those we write in rehearsal, the four of us do our own things with them and help each other write each of our parts. Ben does his drum parts and provides the structure for the songs. Josh writes his guitar parts. I write my lyrics and the melodies. Ben also writes melodies. It's very much a cooperative process."