The Billings Outpost

Texas in July finding that old-time feeling

By ALAN SCULLEY - Last Word Features

The second Texas in July CD, “One Reality,” caught the band in a period of transition. In the very early stages of writing that CD, which was released in April 2011, guitarist Logan Maurer left the group.

Maurer had been the main music writer since the band’s inception in 2007, and with guitarist Christian Royer joining drummer Adam Gray as the main music writers, “One Reality” ended up being a bit of a departure from the group’s independently released 2009 debut CD, “I Am.”

“We were all in a weird place with like changing a member,” bassist Ben Witkowski explained in a recent phone interview. “We love the record, but it definitely did tone it down as far as riffing and wild drums. And just overall song structure for a couple of the songs was very mellow. This is just how we were at the time. We were taking on the challenge of writing a record without a huge piece of the band at the time. It was like losing a brother.

“We definitely noticed after it was released that the fans were like ‘Woah, where is the riffing? Where is the shredding, all this type of stuff,’” he said.

The band spent part of the summer recording its self-titled third CD with producer Machine. The album was released on Oct. 9, and Witkowski, who is the group’s primary lyricist, said the album marks a return to more of the early Texas in July.

“We’re really bringing back the old school feel on ‘I Am,’ the shredding and the fast drums and guitar work,” he said. “It sounds great. I love it. I’m really, really psyched for where it’s headed.”

Indeed, between roaring vocals, rapid-fire beats and the mix of grinding riffs and mathy yet more melodic lead guitar lines that inhabit tracks like “Cry Wolf,” “Without a Head” and “Crux Lust,” the “Texas in July” CD gives metal fans plenty of musical elements to sink their teeth into.

Witkowski, Royer, Gray, vocalist Alex Good and guitarist Chris Davis went back on the road almost as soon as they finished the “Texas in July” album and haven’t slowed down since, having already done a tour of Europe and an extensive first tour of the states.

The roadwork figures to be fine with Texas in July, who have been used to a less-than-glamorous touring routine.

“Yeah, we’ve been touring for awhile,” Witkowski said. “The first couple of years of Texas in July going on tour were very, uh, unprofessional, but fun, like sleeping in the Walmart parking lot and showing up to the show and the guy that booked the show doesn’t even show up. You call him and he says I canceled that show a week ago, and us walking around a small town promoting our band, trying to get people to come to our show. In North Carolina this happened once, and we got about 15 people to come to the show. It was a bunch of moms and dads and kids, whoever we found at local shops. We were running around asking people to come out. So those days are kind of over.”

The early days for the group were in 2007 when all of the band members were still in high school in the Lancaster, Pa., area. Witkowski and Royer had been in bands, while Good and Gray had also played together for awhile before that point.

“So two separate groups of people that played music together kind of came together at school and formed one,” Witkowski said.

Only a year or so after forming, the band had made enough noise on the local scene to get signed to a Lancaster label, CI Records, in 2008 and release a debut EP that October, followed a year later by “I Am.”

The record deal, according to Witkowski, started the band members thinking that Texas in July might become something more than just a way to play music and have a good time with friends.

“That’s kind of when the big picture started changing for everybody,” Witkowski said. “That (being a full-time band) is a big idea, a big leap to take, especially with music. You just never know.”

It turned out that after getting a taste of life in a band that was releasing CDs and touring nationally, Maurer decided it wasn’t the life for him. He quit the band so he could start college.

“Nothing’s bitter between us and him,” Witkowski said. “He just had to go. He didn’t like the tour life, and he just had to continue on with school and other things.”

Although with the new self-titled CD out, Witkowski and his bandmates have lots to look forward to, he said the group is trying not to get ahead of itself.

“We just honestly take it one day at a time and never get ahead of ourselves and just kind of go with it as it comes and hope for the best,” he said. “It’s taken us to a very good length. We’re happy with how it’s coming along thus far.”

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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