On August 16, 2011, the Damn Quails released their debut album entitled “Down The Hatch.” The album was a hit with the critics and the public alike. The duo of Gabriel Marshall and Bryon White set out on a tour from Norman, Oklahoma, to spread their unique sound. Three and a half years later, that debut tour continues. The long and twisted road that The Damn Quails have had to endure would have killed most bands. But, because the music is THAT important, it has helped the band grow and thrive.
Legal issues have kept the band from being able to release any new music. So, instead, they have focused on becoming road warriors. They’ve toured the country, building their fan base show by show, writing new music when the opportunity was there, and planning for the day that they would be able to record their next album without the weight of legal issues getting in the way. CenTexFun.com caught up with Bryon White about the bright future.
“I’m super excited. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been trying not to jinx anything but we’re super excited to get this record started, recorded, and out.” After three and a half years of playing music, the stable to songs is not a problem. “The hardest part right now is whittling down which songs are going to be on it and which songs aren’t. We’ve got tons and I know Gabe does too because we’ve done a ton of writing over the last few years.”
Gabriel and Bryon have been together longer than most married couples these days. The talented duo were both involved in the Woody Gutherie festival in nearby Okemah, Oklahoma. They formed a bond by playing shows together in Oklahoma City. “We just had weekly bar gigs for the first couple of years. We played three shows a week every week – guaranteed.”
They’ve maintained their friendship through respect and boundaries. “We stay out of each other’s way when it comes to the writing and our own songs. We’ve been playing on each other’s stuff for so long. I kind of know what Gabe likes and he knows what I like. It’s a very mutually beneficial relationship. We’ve done a lot of really good work and had some really good shows. When it comes to writing the songs, we don’t write together because we’re both very different writers with very different styles. They seem to come together well when we stick them on a record together. We kind of let each other do our own thing and give each other the freedom and control that we both know that we want.”
One of the unique aspects of a Damn Quails show or album is the fact that you get two different artist and sounds for the price of one. “On ‘Down The Hatch’ we did half and half and I think that’s what we’re going to do this time and probably the same amount of tracks. We do the same things in the shows – one of mine and one of his. It’s worked out for us so far!”
Being a musician started for Bryon around his thirteenth birthday. “My step-brother started playing drums when we were in school. This lady taught him to play drums and her husband was a guitar teacher. So, my parents put me in there to see if I liked it. From there, I started playing this coffee shop in my hometown of Shawnee. The drama department teacher at Shawnee High School was the one booking it and so he threw me in there last-minute. I skipped school the day before to learn some songs because I didn’t know enough to cover a four hour set. I ended up going up there and the place was super packed and I get super nervous and threw up. I decided I was going to go out and play or never play again. I ended up getting on stage and I walked away with like $150 in tips and a doobie. Turns out it was the best night ever! At sixteen, walking away with cash-money in your pocket for something that you would have done at your house anyway was pretty fantastic. That’s when I figured out if you can make money doing this, that’s the only way I ever want to make a living.”
After that life-changing gig, Bryon dabbled in punk rock and rock and roll for a few years before finding his inspriation. “My friend Drew Watson invited me to the Blue Door one night to watch Ellis Paul. From that night forward he has been one of my favorite writers and performers. I watched the guy go up with a guitar by himself and totally captivate and audience for two and a half hours and I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. That really got me in to folk music and Woody Gutherie. Don Conoscenti. Guys that right real good songs.”
Folk music became the path because of the stories he could tell. When asked about his process of writing songs, Bryon said, “I write a lot in my head. I don’t have to have a guitar to write a song. I can shut my eyes and kind of hear the things I want to come out when I sit down. I just think great stories make the best songs. If there is a good story, you can figure out how to tell it in such a way that people will either identify with what you went through or they will put their own story to it and identify to it that way. I think the true mark of a great song is one that is open for interpretation that people can put themselves in and see their own experiences in. “Fools Gold” is kind of a universal tune. I’ve had a lot of people come up and tell me what they think it’s about. That’s usually my first question when someone ask me what it’s about – I ask “Well, what do you think it’s about?” That’s actually more interesting to me. That’s what I like about songwriting in general – Being able to tell a story one way and have it heard another.”
The Damn Quails recently opened for the rock band ZZ Top. “It was frickin cool. We opened up for Hank Williams Jr. and he was cordial and he shook my hand and said hi. Then he had to rush off to do a VIP thing and it was a little less personal. With ZZ Top, we were sitting there eating dinner and Billy Gibbons was at the table next to us eating dinner and I was like, “Billy is eating what I got!” After they got done with their show, Billy Gibbons came out and told us we were one of the best opening bands that they have had in a long time. He watched our sound-check. They were real neat guys. We got to meet Dusty Hill real briefly. Those guys have been in the game a long long time and they kind of know what’s up so it’s really cool that they took ten minutes to come out and say hi to us. Joel Hardy, who mastered our record actually does most of their production and tracking work so we had a little bit of an in. It was a huge show and the stage was awesome. We had an absolute blast.
The Damn Quails are coming to Temple, Texas, on Valentines Day (February 14th) with opening band Ashley Plumlee and the Mistress Derringer Band at one of the areas premire venues – O’Brien’s Irish Pub.
Don’t miss Texas Local Scene’s interview with Ashley Plumlee HERE.
The Damn Quails have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to record their new album. Help out the Quails HERE.