The road to becoming The Black Water Hose was not one that was conveniently paved. After struggling to find band members and navigate life in Los Angeles, James and William Levanas decided to return to Dallas and try their luck at performing as a brother duo.
James reminisces on his time in L.A. as a period of repression. At the time, he was working as an actor for money, impersonating a young, jokester version of Brad Pitt, and struggling to find his way in the city's busy music industry.
The well-established music scene in L.A. seemed to favor hip-hop, EDM and pop, and the pair found their style was inhibited, where Dallas seemed to hit the right key.
"After a year or so of Will writing songs and us meeting up with a handful of incompetent musicians, we started to realize that the two of us had something going that sounded pretty good, and unlike what we were fitting in out on the West Coast," James says. "So we decided to move back to Dallas, and our sounds just seemed to work here."
The pair's ’90s-influenced alternative, psychedelic blues style quickly attracted the attention of the band members they needed: Pedro Martinez on the drums and Andrew Czornyj on bass. But it’s William, as his brother concurs, who shines as the architect and creator of the band's music — writing and composing all their songs from scratch, which they then speed up to match the electric guitar.
The duo's collaborative aspect is evident; while William is the introverted music-maker, James is clearly the performer, oftentimes falling to his knees and rolling on the ground mid-verse. There's an unmissable level of passion that rings from the band's stage.
“William is the mastermind behind the music. He comes up with shit that I really, really love,” James says with reverence, despite William being six years younger than himself. “I just sing his lyrics. I truly don’t consider myself musically talented. I’m just the performer.”
Despite their humility, the Levanas family history was built on music. The two have a string of talent dotted like an ostinato running across the family ties, with musical grandparents and a guitarist father. The pair's youth came with a built-in soundtrack.
“Our dad was a great guitarist, so growing up, he was always playing ’90s rock, and him loving Nirvana, for example, meant they were great," James says. "His approval inspired me to listen. And they’re one of my biggest inspirations.”
Along with direct musical talent, the family carries a true and literal love for the art. Their mother actually dated Billy Gibbons, the lead singer and guitarist from ZZ Top, in high school.
“They’re still good friends,” James explains, adding that Gibbons would often visit and give them backstage access at ZZ Top concerts.
While still relatively new to the Dallas music scene, The Black Water Hose has had the opportunity to play at venues like Deep Ellum Art Company, The Free Man, The Blue Light and Sundown at Granada, attracting the attention of well-known Dallas artists like Chilldren of Indigo and Tin Man Travis.
Fellow musicians watching their set remark that the band has grown as artists. And while their ambition is noteworthy, the group can easily be perceived as a bunch of goofballs.
“I want to be like the biggest band in the world, obviously,” James says jokingly, carrying the same charisma as he does onstage. “I’d realistically hope to play shows around Dallas and get into a position where we go on tour around the nation or even just the South. People will either hate us or think we’re dope, and I’m OK with that.”
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.