After Nearly a Decadelong Run, Fort Worth Band Oil Boom Breaks Up

Oil Boom is done.
Oil Boom is done. Annie Nelson
After eight years together, the great local band Oil Boom is calling it quits in May.

“We have five excellent shows coming up in the next month,” the band wrote Thursday in an announcement on its Facebook page. “And that’s going to be it for us as an area band. Alas, we have not been renewed for another season.”

Four shows will be in Fort Worth and one will be April 26 in Dallas at Three Links. If you never got around to seeing this finely tuned, bluesy garage rock band, don’t miss it.

The reasons for the breakup are plenty, but not salacious.

“It’s just time,” bassist Steve Steward says. “We put a lot of time and energy into it. It’s certainly been fun and enjoyable, but as a famous fictitious mathematician put it in a dinosaur movie, ‘Life finds a way.’ Life caught up with us in various ways.”

Frontman Ryan Taylor became a father this year, and other band members are dealing with personal matters, so the group decided a few months ago to disband.

“We’re all ending this on good terms and friends,” drummer Dugan Conners says. “We still talk almost every day.”

The members are grateful for the attention they’ve received over the years, but the aim of the band changed.

“We don’t really have anything we’re working towards like we used to,” Steward says. “It’s harder to generate new interest locally,” Taylor says.

After releasing their second LP, Terribility, last year, they don’t want to go out with a bad record in their catalog.

“We’re ending on a high note,” Steward says.

One reason to end the band is because of lack in interest.

“It’s hard to keep the public’s interest in the band over seven years,” Steward says. “When you slip off the radar for a minute to take that proverbial smoke break, people move on to other things. There’s a zillion other awesome bands around here.”

The band had a great run for years. After answering a Craigslist ad that Conners posted, Taylor formed the genesis of Oil Boom at the end of 2009. They were joined by singer Brian Whitten and played as a trio without bass for a while. After Whitten left the band, Taylor took over the vocalist role, and Steward joined in 2011 as the full-time bassist. Their second EP, Gold Yeller, caught the attention of many, and buzz quickly built.

They toured nationally in 2014 and 2015 and had a solid home base waiting for them. And they had steady airplay on KXT.

“We all had aspirations of this being more than your area local band,” Conners says. “Our shows were attended well. We had a lot of people who followed us for quite some time.”

Local producer Jordan Richardson played with the band for a while on guitar before he committed to playing with White Denim. Oil Boom wished to continue as a four-piece, so it got ex-Ice Eater guitarist Zach Edwards to join.

By then, Oil Boom had shared stages with Social Distortion, the Old 97’s, the Toadies, Johnny Marr and the Hold Steady. Its music had been featured in TV shows and movies such as The Vampire Diaries, Manchester by the Sea and If I Stay.

The band was less active in 2016 and 2017, and it spent months working on Terribility. The group wanted it to sound right, and that took time and money.

“We all had aspirations of this being more than your area local band. Our shows were attended well. We had a lot of people who followed us for quite some time.” — Dugan Conners

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“If there’s any blame, it’s on us,” Taylor says, “not being able to stay the course and get it done quick. Part of it was a money thing and trying to have enough to do it properly.”

The members weren't slackers, but priorities shifted.

“It took longer than what we had wanted,” Taylor says. “Waiting too long between releases was not a good idea. I think we should have put out something, anything, like a single or an EP. When there’s a three-year gap between releases, it grinds everything to a halt.”

The group tried to be a national touring band, but the juggling of home lives and bills made it hard for the members to commit to full-time touring and recording. They had a great publicity push for Terribility, but the interest wasn’t as strong as it used to be. Even The Huffington Post running an advance stream of Terribility didn’t elicit sparks of large interest.

The day after band members announced their breakup, they didn't sound bitter.

“We made some really awesome music,” Steward says. “At the bottom of it, that’s the most important thing.”

Edwards echoes the sentiment.

"We’ve played some really cool shows and done some traveling, but I think I’m most proud of the record," he says. "I may have only contributed a small part to it, but it’s a great record and it’s cool to know it will live on even though the band is coming to a close."

Plus, they have some great documentation of what they did.

“We found our own sound along the way,” Taylor says. “We pushed each other to make different music each time around.”

Oil Boom's final shows are April 14 at Mass, April 21 at Doc's Records and Republic Street Bar, April 26 at Three Links and May 11 at Friday on the Green.
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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs