Born out of Dallas, Texas' rich music scene, The O's deliver a melodic, catchy pop sound, achieved with folk-minded acoustic instrumentation, drawing influences from the modern and traditional Americana scenes. Comprised of Taylor Young (acoustic guitar, kick drum) and John Pedigo (banjo), the duo had spent time in numerous Dallas bands, including Polyphonic Spree, Young Heart Attack, Slick 57, Boys Named Sue, P.W. Long, and The Backsliders, before coming together in 2008 to form The O's.
Having released their debut, We Are The O's in 2009 and the follow-up, Between The Two, in 2011, both on Dallas, Texas-based Idol Records, the band is navigating new waters with their latest, Thunderdog, which will be released on their own Punch Five Records on July 23, 2013.
"At this point," Young explains, "John and I have so many years of experience in dealing with [the music industry], and I think we know most of the things that need to be done for a record label, and we definitely know what's best for our band. Now it's up to us. If we want to lose our money putting it behind things we think are good, then we'll do that and hope it all works out."
Recorded at the famed Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, just along the Mexican border near El Paso, as well as at The Bubble in Austin, Thunderdog was produced by Chris "Frenchie" Smith.
A state-of-the-art, top-notch studio where the band could stay on-site, eat on-site, and record without distractions, the band felt, on their producer's recommendation, that Sonic Ranch's environment would provide them a chance to get more creative and break out of their standard mold, something they feel they accomplished with Thunderdog.
"Frenchie, our producer, had done a lot of work out [at Sonic Ranch] and thought it would be great for us musically and philosophically," recalls Pedigo. "He was one-hundred percent right. It's a magical place that sits on the border surrounded by a million pecan trees. There are sweet ladies that make you food every day and more importantly, they make you the Sonic Ranch Red Sauce. We ate it by the gallon and put it on everything - burritos, tacos, pizza, you name it. We literally lived there for two weeks and worked at all hours of the day and night."
It was all worth it, as both Young and Pedigo will agree. Their brand of stomping roots-rock comes alive on Thunderdog, a twelve-track collection of songs that fans of Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers will rejoice in, while purists of country-folk will eagerly nod in approval.
Named after Young's 36-inch kick drum ("We would always say that thing could 'Thunderdog' any crowd we played in front of," Pedigo says), Thunderdog means many more things to them, serving as the theme for the album, and the band, defining their method of achieving their own success, on their own terms, at their own pace.
"Thunderdogging is a blazing of our own trail," comments Pedigo. "So, the deal behind naming our album that is creating our own path with the record, and with the new record label. There aren't any rules. We're just thunder-dogging our own way through it all."
Expanding on their banjo-driven style, the band stays true to themselves, while experimenting and pushing the envelope, including putting the banjo through a fuzz pedal on the track "Kitty," which closes out the album.
"That's just a banjo solo," Pedigo says, laughing, when asked if they used an electric guitar on the album. "It's my banjo through a fuzz pedal. Just like Thunderdog represents what we do with the bass drum, this is how I Thunderdog the banjo. I wouldn't have been able to try that two years ago, let alone actually put it on a record."
Prior to the album's domestic release, the band toured through Europe. Now they plan to release the record in the states, hit the road, and do what they do best: play live, entertain a drinking crowd, and have fun. Thunderdogging through the musical terrain, in a van, playing to anyone lucky enough to catch them.
Upcoming tour dates:
7/19/13 – Golden Light - Amarillo, TX
7/20/13 – Iron Horse - Wichita Falls, TX
7/24/13 - Basin Burger House - Midland, TX
7/25/13 – Viva Big Bend Festival (Railroad Blues) - Alpine, TX
7/26/13 - Viva Big Bend Festival (Gage Hotel) - Marathon, TX
7/27/13 - University of North Texas (Dream Benefit Concert) - Denton, TX
7/31/13 – Lone Star Music InStore - San Marcos, TX
8/17/13 - Love and War in Texas (Dead Air Launch Party!) - Plano, TX
8/23/13 - Live Oak Music Hall - Ft. Worth, TX