“It’s interesting,” says IHTBD singer/guitarist Sean Snyder over an after-work phone call. “Kevin [Gilmore, the band's drummer] and I had drifted apart as far as our friendship was concerned, but once the band broke up and we started doing other things, Kevin and I started talking about more serious things than we ever had.”
The group members resolved their differences and are now hard at work on a few new offerings of their dark and witty brand of punk-inspired alternative music. The band is anxious to get back to work playing around North Texas and in Dallas in particular.
As far as Snyder is concerned, Dallas is golden, and it’s one of his favorite places to play.
While the band’s homestead may technically be Wichita Falls, It Hurts To Be Dead has long felt like an adopted local in Dallas, often sharing the stage with notable punk bands such as the now-defunct The Phuss, and they’ve already set their sights on a big return to Dallas stages with a May 28 show at Three Links alongside From Parts Unknown, Nonstarter and Bullet Machine.
It’s not that the band views its hometown through a “the grass is always greener” outlook, though. IHTBD has made a comfortable living in Wichita Falls, which was built on cattle and oil and now boasts of a population of a little over 100,000 souls, for over a decade.
According to Snyder, there isn’t really a Wichita Falls punk rock scene to speak of.
“It sort of comes and goes, but we have always had a music scene though, and Wichita Falls allows us our place in that,” he says.
It Hurts To Be Dead got their start back 2010 as a kind of last grasp for the then 30-year-old Snyder, who’s been playing in bands since he was in high school.
“I wasn't necessarily trying to start something that lasted, but I just didn't want to have been in my last band," he says. "By that point I was 30 and had a full-time job and just thought I’d put something together.”
Snyder contacted Gilmore and the band’s bassist Nick Thornton. Thornton had been playing bass in bands with Snyder for several years already at that point, and when the three of them put their heads together they found enough chemistry to last well beyond Snyder’s estimated half-life.
“I figured we’d practice for six months, and maybe play a warehouse show or two, then disintegrate," Snyder says. "But it didn’t.”
“I figured we’d practice for six months, and maybe play a warehouse show or two, then disintegrate ... But it didn’t.” – Sean Snyder
Since then, IHTBD has put out a few records, including their latest EP Old Habits and Die Hards, which was engineered by Josh Fleming (from The Phuss, now Vandoliers) and John Pedigo.
Fleming was ecstatic to hear IHTBD is back together.
“Back when The Phuss were around we used to play shows with IHTBD,” Fleming says in an exchange via Messenger. “I think our first show together was at the Iron Horse in Wichita Falls. We tried to get them on as many bills as possible after that. They are really great people and I liked Sean’s songs a lot. I was working with John Pedigo, [and] we went to see them at Three Links and we started talking about recording an EP.
"I love making music with my friends and that one day in the studio we had was crazy. Glad they are getting back together.”
That crazy day involved a mess of heightened tensions between friends and an unrelated broken window on Pedigo’s truck that definitely didn’t help soothe matters. It all worked out in the end with the successful release of Old Habits and Die Hards.
“It was the most tumultuous experience that I’ve ever had with those guys but I still love them so much," Snyder says. "And I actually had the pleasure of booking Vandoliers when they were a new band in Wichita Falls.”
Even through their rough moments, IHTBD learned enough from their recording experiences to feel confident to produce their own albums. The band has accumulated recording equipment, and the new project is already underway with the working title of Dystopian Graffiti.
The plan is to take their sweet time and experiment as much as possible to achieve a unanimously desired “raw DIY” sound that should stand apart from the band’s other, highly polished releases.
With five songs ready to go, whether they will end up an EP or LP is still up in the air. After all, the band has no budget or time constraints.
“We are taking what we’ve learned from working with people in the past and sort of feeling our way through the dark, but we know what we want it to sound like," Snyder says. "So we will get there eventually. What we lack in equipment and know-how we are trying to make up for with the infinite time we have.”