A Friday-night crowd of about 120 folks packed under the covered patio near The Foundry’s stage to see Brooklyn’s Andrew Savage perform songs off his upcoming solo full-length album, Thawing Dawn.
Savage and his backing band, which he introduced as “The Fabulous Narcs,” delivered an attention-grabbing performance of songs from Thawing Dawn and a spirited cover of Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr.”
Playing in Dallas for the first time since April 2016, when Parquet Courts at Granada Theater on their last tour, Savage is recording and touring under the simple “A. Savage” moniker he’s used in liner notes for the past decade on albums and 7-inches from his bands, Teenage Cool Kids, Fergus & Geronimo and Parquet Courts.
For this three-date Texas solo tour, he was backed by folks he knew in Austin. After two practices in Austin, the band headed out to play Houston, Dallas and Austin. When Savage introduced the band, he made special mention of another former Dentonite: “This is my good friend of many years, the talented Payton Green on guitar.”
While he may be a Brooklynite now, Savage was born and raised in Denton. And, before packing his bags and heading for New York in 2010, Savage cut his teeth playing house shows and venues across North Texas. Since leaving Denton, his projects continually garner buzz, including late-night TV appearances and an article asking if Parquet Courts, which Savage co-fronts, is “the last great New York band.”
Although at least one fan at the show Friday night was spreading rumors to people at his table of a Parquet Courts breakup, Savage says the band will head into the studio to record in September. The new solo album will be released Oct. 13 on Savage’s Dull Tools label.
Dallas Observer: Obviously, some things in your life have changed. I read online this week something about you “being in love.” Is there a story behind the songs?
Savage: Well, the story is the record. That’s the story. Listen to the music. Hear the words. That’s my way of telling stories. You know? I feel like people’s names, places, those are less interesting than the music and the songs.
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But, in your life, there has been a fork in the road? Or a turn?
Yeah, sure. Yeah, love is an inspiring thing. You fall in love, and you want to tell everyone about it. I’ve written a lot of love songs. Most of them after the fact. So I haven’t written a lot of songs about the sensation of being in love. In the moment. And that’s kind of what this record is.
Yeah, that does seem to be a strong source of inspiration for many people. Any other things that you drew inspiration from while writing these songs?
Yeah, sure, of course. There’s a song, the first song on the album, "Buffalo Calf Road Woman," named after the woman who allegedly shot Custer off of his horse at the Battle of Wounded Knee, and it’s kind of a reflection on the indigenous people of America, the American Indians who are the ...
[Payton Green, standing nearby, leans in and interrupts.]
Green: It’s Little Big Horn, by the way.
Savage: Oh, yeah, Little Big Horn. Thank you. Payton Green, everybody. [Laughter.] It kind of came to my consciousness with the Standing Rock thing that had been happening. And the promises that America, the government, has made to America, the people, and how devastatingly sad it is to witness the way that American Indians have been treated by the powers that be, and focusing on this one sort of bittersweet moment, at the Battle of Little Big Horn, where Buffalo Calf Road Woman shoots Gen. Custer off his horse, kills him, and how it’s a bittersweet thing because it was a very immediate victory. [Eds: In 2005, the Northern Cheyenne recounted that Buffalo Calf Road Woman struck a hand-to-hand blow that knocked Gen. George Custer off his horse during the Battle of the Little Big Horn.] But within the context of the larger view of history, a very bittersweet war that can’t be won because of money, because of race, because of the way that power is distributed in this civilization called America.
During your set I noticed a line in a song where you sang something about “as I fled my birthplace.” Which song was that?
It’s called "Phantom Limbo."
I won’t ask what it’s really about, but I’m curious if that’s a song you wrote recently or if you wrote it after you moved?
No, it’s a really old song. It’s one of the oldest ones on the record. A lot of the songs on the record are songs that I’ve had around for years that didn’t find a proper home in any band that I was in. I tried them out in some cases, and it didn’t work. Or I felt like they didn’t work. In the case of “Phantom Limbo,” I just needed more time to finish writing and to really get the words right.
So, presumably, some of the songs on the album stretch all the way back to when you lived in Denton?
In that case, I started writing "Phantom Limbo" when I lived in Denton. I probably wrote that song in 2009, right before I moved to New York.
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Since you’ve saved these songs for a solo project, are some of these songs more personal to you?
I think all my writing is pretty personal. Reasons why it doesn’t fit in a certain band either have to do with a stylistic thing, or maybe I just didn’t feel that I was done with a song. Also, there’s a reason that the songs on the record aren’t Parquet Courts songs, for example. It’s because they feel different.
It doesn’t really have to do with them being more personal because I would like to think that all the songs I write are personal. [Interrupted by a fan saying goodbye.] They are all personal. … It’s like I said: My stories are told in the songs. You know, sometimes people want to get to the nitty-gritty, but, honestly, a lot of times the nitty-gritty just isn’t as interesting as the song or as the emotions that you feel when you’re listening to someone sing a song.
Take, for example, say, "Pancho and Lefty," the Townes Van Zandt song. I’m sure that song might be about something. But, honestly, as a fan of that song, I don’t particularly care because what that song is about to me is, really, that’s what it’s about. And what my songs are about to you, or to anyone who listens to them — no matter who the people or places that inspired them — I let other people decide what my songs are about.
What’s next for Parquet Courts?
We’re recording a record in September, and we’re writing songs for that right now. We’ve been getting together, jamming, making demos.