Playful noise is emanating from a warehouse in the industrial district on the edge of Garland. Inside, the trio Thyroids is practicing. Kenneth Ramirez riffs sharply and sings with a rambling howl tuned into Deborah Tamayo’s bass and Mark Bitner’s calculated drums.
The group recently released a tape titled Oh Well, produced by Jennifer Rux of DreamyLife Records. Rux describes their sound as harkening back to an era of psychedelic garage rock in the vein of Van Morrison, with lots of reverb and echo.
“I’m a sucker for that,” she says.
Thyroids formed in 2014, when Ramirez was still in high school. He and Bitner started the band and they made their debut with the Gnarlands EP. When they needed a bassist, Tamayo learned to play and joined in.
Ramirez says he's inspired by modern acts like Traditional Fools and the Coachwhips, along with swing-era jazz artists like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. Ramirez writes lyrics in both English and Spanish. They're inspired by life’s highs and lows (read: a few failed relationships), but sometimes they just play out as pure energy.
“Our music is not super conceptual but it’s just about dealing with the day-to-day,” Bitner says.
Thyroids blend these older influences with rawer, newer sounds that draw in young people who might be going to their first house show and have never heard of bands like Death or Them. They don't want to be put into a "garage rock" box. Instead, they want their minimalist, sincere music to speak for itself.
“Wash My Brain” starts out with the rhythmic tick of Bitner’s drums, as Ramirez produces soulful, guttural howls. Ramirez describes the song “La Cosa” (or “The Thing”), which is also the name of a street in their neighborhood, as surf rock with speed.
Broken music gear hangs on the walls of of their practice space. There’s a melted Van Halen record and a preserved baby shark in a jar — affectionately referred to as “Sharky” — sitting on the coffee table. Humor is just one facet of the band's persona.
“It’s almost like a drama — [being a band] puts you through so many emotions. There’s sad and there’s angry," Tamayo says. “And we are the fools on the stage.”
Ramirez says that coming from a working class Southern neighborhood and having what he calls a “Garland attitude” has had a big influence on Thyroids as a band. But it's the DIY circuit of houses like Snail Shack and Home Dome, both in Oak Cliff, that inspires them the most. Their participation in that scene is also attractive to upstart record labels like Dreamy Life.
“As far as the record label is concerned, we really want bands that are out there getting their music out and touring,” Rux says. “Those kids have really worked hard at touring and playing shows.”
When Thyroids play, whether on tour or in the Dallas area, their spirited stage presence charms audiences.
“If you can play a good song, having written it yourself or with just your band and external forces then, to me, that’s a good performance,” Bitner says.
In between their day jobs, the trio is writing and recording new music. They have other ambitions, too. “We want to do more self-producing, making merch, as much merch as we possibly can, self-promoting and connecting with the scene,” he says.
Bitner hopes the future will bring them the opportunity to travel more. “I just want to have the notoriety to be able to do a decent tour once or twice a year and something to where people can come out and have a good time," he says.
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.