Pink panthers

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The lyrics are added into the music later during the writing process, with Clardy Lewis tailoring them to the song's tone and structure. Sometimes the lyrics are new; other times they're drawn from the countless notebooks full of potential songs she keeps. Rubberbullet's extended hiatus gave her a surplus of material to work with. "I wait and hear the song and decide what kind of mood and what way I want to take it," she says. "Sometimes I write new or I go back to the old things and find something I want to use there. It all depends on the mood of the song."

With the different style came new experiences. For example, when Pinkston played its first acoustic show at the listening party Last Beat threw for it and labelmates Pleasant Grove (whose self-titled debut has already been released) on December 8 at the Dark Room, it was also the first acoustic show for each of the members.

"Playing an acoustic show is almost like the difference between a studio record and the live shows in that both of those are very different interpretations of the music," Daugherty says. "In both you do whatever you can with the tools you have."

Burt adds, "And then a couple of the songs we've really messed with, made some arrangements the same essentially but different. And I've never really been in the situation to do that."

With its first listening party and first acoustic show behind them, the next step is to wait for the CD to be released in less than a month. They've been concentrating on it since they began recording it in July at Last Beast Studios. Not that they were planning on making a record when they started. It just happened.

"We just booked ourselves some time and thought, 'Oh, we're going to make ourselves a nice demo,'" Burt says. "So we started tracking down at Last Beat Studios. We had five days. We had so damned much fun in those five days we didn't get done. We wound up getting done with that time, and of course they had other projects to do, and so somewhere in that time we figured out that we were actually going to release it with Last Beat. We ended up using 15 days. It's funny how everything came together because we were all freaking out trying to get all the musical stuff done. And there's this battle trying to get the art work done and then mastering. And then it came down to the wire."

Signing with Last Beat was the next logical progression. It made perfect sense: Besides recording there, Pinkston shares a Last Beat rehearsal space with Captain Audio. Plus, rubberbullet had been on the label, and Burt had worked with Last Beat when he was in The Tomorrowpeople. Releasing their debut on another label -- especially another local label -- would have been like wearing sneakers with a tuxedo.

Now that the EP is in the final stages of production, Pinkston plans on spending the next few months playing local release shows and some extended Texas dates, including a trip to San Antonio to play with the Deathray Davies. The only show they've booked between now and the release party (on a bill with Legendary Crystal Chandelier) is a New Year's Eve party at Deep Ellum Live with The Toadies and Doosu. But Pinkston has never been a band that plays a lot of shows. In fact, while most year-old bands would love to get regular gigs in Deep Ellum, Pinkston actually regretted playing there every weekend in October.

"It's hard, because some times it's just too easy to book yourself locally so damned much that next thing you know, you're playing every weekend," Daugherty says. "And when you're playing at the same club every weekend, it's no longer an event. We try to play a few shows here and steer clear for a little bit. I think we've been good at that."

Between the odd show and wrapping up the EP, the band found time to go back into the studio to record its contribution to a Christmas compilation Idol Records' Erv Karwelis is putting together. Or rather, was putting together: The disc, featuring Pinkston's version of The Kinks' "Father Christmas," is being postponed until next Christmas. "It's really great," Burt says. "It's a damned shame it isn't coming out."

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Shannon Sutlief