Gimmicks and insipid meme-generating fare can rockets a video into viral heaven, but it can also pigeonhole the video's creator. Austin's The Possum Posse are a crack band of roots musicians that, thanks to an ingenious mix of comedy, musicianship and pure silliness, have millions upon millions of YouTube views under their belts thanks to their brilliant "Guy On a Buffalo" series of videos. They're also a band that holds their own with any of the great, young rustic acts currently plying their craft in the Capital City along with Shakey Graves, Whiskey Shivers and the Crooks, among others.
Now, it's doubtful that the Jomo Edwards five-piece that formed in 2002 would receive millions of hits, dollars or anything else on the power of their musicianship alone. That's not a knock on them at all. In fact, the band's Kickstarter-funded album, released in January, Let's Ride, Boys, contains the ramshackle spirit of the popular videos, but also represents a band that knows their way around any sort of tune that can be remotely related to the country category. With nary a tale of a range-roaming buffalo rider, Edwards and crew, along with producer Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly made a record (with a tune featuring the vocals of 1100 Springs' Matt Hillyer from Dallas) that stands alone, without the help of YouTube or viral virtuosity.
Edwards knows that it's important for the future of the band to take advantage of the web-based fan-base in order to spread the band's non-Buffalo music. In fact, in Austin, there's a band that's fought through the novelty-hit glory to become a revered act, and also a band that crumbled under the pressure of recreating the magic that captured the public's sense of irony for three minutes. The Gourds first gained wide attention with a backwoods take on Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice," while Dynamite Hack garnered giggles back in 2000 with their laid-back indie-rock version of Eazy-E's "Boyz-n-The-Hood," only to really never be heard from again.
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"One thing the Gourds had going for them, that I think and hope we have going for us, is that the rest of their music is creative, interesting and worth checking out," says Edwards, from his home is Austin earlier this week. "Once you listen to the rest of their music, and check out their live show, you figure out that 'Gin and Juice' is only the tip of the creative iceberg. The Dynamite Hack guys had some interpersonal issues that I think kept them from moving forward, and we're lucky to have very few issues like that. We have a ton of fun onstage and take a lot of pride in our non-buffalo music. All we can hope for is that people who like "Guy on a Buffalo" will come out to watch us play live, expecting something that comes from the same creative place. We're pretty confident we can win them over if they do."
The series of four episodes featuring the roaming buffalo rider comes from the 1978 flick entitled, you guessed it, Buffalo Rider, which Edwards found while mining for celluloid gold on a public domain film site a few years back. Over ten million youtube views later, the series could've turned into an albatross, but the band, which shows off their funny-side on their non-Buffalo tunes as well, decided they needed to own it and not be owned by the buffalo.
Initially, the Possum Posse didn't really embrace their video calling-card in their live set, but in-time, they began to grasp that performing "Guy On a Buffalo" live, as the video rolled in front of the crowd was a fun and unique way of performing and showing off their skills as well.
"'Guy on a Buffalo' was strange for us because we had never played it live before it became popular online," explains Edwards. "So we had to work it up and figure out how to make it happen onstage. It takes some coordination and an in-ear metronome for our drummer, but I think the synced-up video effect is really fun for audiences. When we started playing it, I think we were just excited that people were singing along to one of our songs. That's a cool feeling."
In terms of moving forward as a band that plays music and not one that merely scores hilarious, Mystery Science Theatre 3000-style films, Edwards feels pretty good about it all.
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"We didn't want to mess with the 'Guy on a Buffalo's' track record. We did put a few references in the album artwork and some of the songs have secret references, but that's about as far as we went. We've gotten good feedback on the album and no death threats, so we think it was probably a decent decision."