Austin Stories: Sour Times by Jared Boulanger
Jared Boulanger has been a long-time friend of the site, and so it seems fitting we start off our 2019 with another Austin Story, this one from the leader of Sour Notes/Memory Keepers, wherein he talks about hardships and being grateful. And, if you’re interested in hearing Jared’s work live, he has two shows for our infamous Free Week: January 1st at Volstead and January 5th at Barracuda! Read on to hear Jared’s story.
Im okay with sudden change. Im now, even looking for ways to provoke it. 2018 has revealed so many things I might have missed out on if I hadnt rolled with the punches.
At the end of 2017, The Sour Notes had chiseled down to a power trio… something I was hesitant to do previously. Having up to 6 people on stage always seemed easier for some reason. After being asked to play Nirvana and Galaxie 500 cover sets a while back, it kind of got me interested in stripping down my own material that way. I ended up loving the clarity and freedom of less instruments and really developed my guitar style as a result.
This past year I started a 2nd band, toured, and released more music than any other single year. I honestly wouldnt have started my new project Memory Keepers if I hadnt been told my life expectancy from a health scare early-in. What I feared most was not having the time to record the songs I had planned. For those of us without close families or babies, this is what get’s us outta bed in the morning and keeps us up at night… so the bad news quickly sent me on a whirl of productivity. A few surgeries later, nothing had spread and Im a lucky one.
Shortly after shifting into high gear musically, I quit drinking alcohol. Well, my doctor told me it would raise my chances again so I did. Ive almost gone a whole year and that creates a whole other mess of problems Id never realized. Mostly, redefining what fun is, impatience, back pain from my manual labor years at Rock n Roll Rentals (Luv U Guys), migraines, having a pill-regimen though I welcome this change. My story is trivial in comparison to recent tragedies, but with all things considered its a reminder to work hard and keep a fresh perspective. Its easy to forget how temporary things are.
At Memory Keepers first gig during SXSW 2018, we played on a rooftop downtown where the power went off during our first song four times in a row. After the third time, it became a funny spectacle to the crowd and probably helped the situation become more participatory and human. Now that I think about it, I wouldnt change a thing. We decided to book a tour that summer, surrounding the 7-inch we’d just recorded. I’ve only toured the US & Canada in the past, but I don’t feel silly saying Austin really is the live music capital of the world. Although, my friends who have toured Europe say they treat you like a real artist across the pond… whatever that means. I think maybe just more hospitality? To me, the opportunity to be artistic is luxury enough, as so many people just dont have that option.
Touring through some of the less-diverse cities in the Midwest makes you realize how good we have it here. You really have to do some investigating to find out where and who to play with in some of the smaller towns along the way. Those shots in the dark can sometimes be really hit or miss or even dangerous. Loading-in through dark alleys behind St. Louis pubs on 4th of July comes to mind. On that 2-week run up to Chicago, our last stop before returning to Texas was Soundpony in Tulsa. I think this place has a liquor license, but youre basically performing on the floor as you would at practice. Ive always had a great show there, made friends and been treated kindly by the staff. I actually prefer performing on the floor of some stage-less room to a small crowd of strangers who dont get to see you everyday. When my band is the local on a touring bill, I try to return those favors and respect.
Its refreshing to meet more notable bands from places I presume to be more progressive, like when The Sour Notes opened for Albert Hammond Jr. in October. He and his band went out of their way to watch our entire set, be friendly and chat about what we had cookin down here. I assume things like that only happen with people in places who are built for it. I hope that those less-fortunate cities prosper in the way Austin has and/or its residents find their way to greener pastures if they wish. Embracing the future, technology and letting go of nostalgia is only going to make things easier and allow for great changes to occur.
As I sit here writing this, Im noticing how comfortable the arrangement of my desk and furniture are at the moment. This too, will change in the coming weeks as the need to restructure everything in my workspace has become a must. Theres a learning curve that comes with the re-implementation of every tool, that ends up spawning new ideas and songs. As I look around, I see many new instruments that Ive acquired by flipping old gear. I might have just replaced everything I own on Craigslist and Reverb this year. I guess I’m preparing a setting for which many new possibilities can be explored. Im looking forward to 2019 and have a new 7-inch by Memory Keepers ready to release in the coming months. The Sour Notes have also started recording our 7th LP. Thanks for reading!