The Wheel Workers’ “Lost” Debut Album Reissued with Bonus Live Tracks

Article Contributed by The Wheel Workers | Published on Saturday, October 3, 2020

Following up on the release of a socially-distanced music video for “Sing” from their most recent album “post-truth” (featuring the reunion of fifteen members of the band from over two decades), The Wheel Workers recruited their long-time producer and close friend Dan Workman to remaster their “lost” 2003 debut album. The record also features six bonus tracks from their 2004 live performance on John Aielli’s long-running Eklektikos program on KUTX.

Until recently, there was a disconnect between the 2002-2005 version of the band (then known as “The Wheel Works”) based in Austin, and the 2010-present Houston-based line-ups, in part due to a difficult 2005 break-up that kept some members of the band from speaking for over a decade. However, as time passed, egos matured, bridges were rebuilt, and there was an increasing realization that far more united the two eras of the band than separated them. Friendships were rekindled, and now the original members are again working together on new music.

The original 2003 debut master had always been a source of dissatisfaction for the band, as it turned out too trebly and thin, and was never digitally distributed online. Lead singer Steven Higginbotham asked Dan Workman to try his hand at a remaster, and the band was thrilled with the results. “It was so much better I nearly cried,” Steven recalls, adding, “the new master sounds like album we actually intended to make.”

The original members include Steven Higginbotham, Chris Maness, Nathan Maness, Giuseppe Ponti, and Chad Fontenot. They met at Francisco’s Studios off Emancipation Avenue in Houston in the late 1990s, then moved up to Austin and rented a house together in 2001 located, ironically enough, on Houston Street. The band practiced nearly every day of the week, recorded everything, including many live improvisations, some of which were featured on the 2004 release, “How to Fly a Washing Machine.” Many recordings from this period exist, and The Wheel Workers plan on more releases from the vault in the coming years.

The album was recorded by Steven Higginbotham at their Houston St., Austin, TX house, mixed by Kelly Donnelly and Matthew Presley at StudioPlush in Austin, Texas.