In many ways, The Longshots are your typical roadhouse-rocking throwback band. Just four young dudes playing dirty rock ’n’ roll, looking grungy, and drivin’ all the ladies crazy. But there’s more to these cats than just pluck and good hair. Listen to them live or online, and you might think you’ve heard it all before. You haven’t. The guys are young (21 to 27), but they’ve been around the block. Musically speaking, of course.
The brainchild of singer-songwriter Joey Gorman (guitar, vocals), The Longshots also feature two members of local giants The Hanna Barbarians –– guitarists Alex Zobel (lead) and Kristopher Luther (drums) –– and singer-songwriter Jake Paleschic (bass), a wunderkind troubadour. In May, the guys released an EP, Kicker, recorded at Dreamy Soundz, home of the husband-and-wife team of Robby and Jenny Rux, who with bassist Josh Browning form the indie-rocking Year of the Bear. (Jenny also plays in another outfit, Bitch Bricks.)
One online listen to the song “Me or California,” and Jordan Richardson was hooked. Drummer for Ben Harper’s Relentless7 and co-frontman of EPIC RUINS, the Los Angeleno-via-Fort Worth had just finished co-producing the hotly anticipated debut by Fort Worth psych-rockers Skeleton Coast with Steve Steward (Oil Boom, EPIC RUINS, Kevin Aldridge & The Appraisers, Vorvon). Richardson wasn’t looking for another guitar-rock band to work with. But “Me or California,” a radio-ready hit if ever there was one, with clanging guitar, punk drums, and a monster chorus, jumped out at him. “Usually, I’m a sonics-first guy, meaning I’ll hear the ‘sound’ of the band before I hear the story,” Richardson said. “But that tune grabbed me in that way I guess Bruce Springsteen grabs people, with what he has to say.”
Richardson also dug the sonics. “I knew their approach would be something fun to work with,” he said. “After seeing them last month at Magnolia [Motor Lounge], I was sold.”
Richardson is looking for openings in his schedule to be able to jet back here to the Fort and start laying down Longshots tracks. He intends to apply the same non-traditional recording approach to them that he used for Skeleton Coast. “I’d love to find some shitty storefront kitchenette to record in,” he said. “The sound of yellowing, peeling linoleum could add to the sonic dust.”
The Longshots also plan to record again with the Ruxes at Dreamy Soundz. The band may release the Richardson recordings as an EP soon or lump them in with Dreamy Soundz’ session work for an LP in the spring, before the mad South-by-Southwest rush.
While The Longhots are a Fort Worth band, they sort of have Nashville roots. Both Gorman and Paleschic, friends from their teen years in Burleson, recently spent a couple of years in Music City. It was “engaging,” Gorman said politely, though he loves the friends he still has there. Fort Worth is a much different city, he said. “Here, the whole [scene] is run by the bar owners,” he said. “It’s a blessing, because you don’t have big money trickling down from Columbia Records.”
All of those Tennessee bands you’ve seen playing The Where House on the Near Southside over the past year or so? Most (if not all) of them have been brought here by Gorman and Paleschic. Gorman was drawn back about a year ago by a deep sense of home. “A few things pulled me in different ways, but, honestly, what brings anyone back home?” he said. “I realized I loved traveling, but living somewhere was Fort Worth through and through.”
He played open-mics here and there, but after a trip to India last year, he had an epiphany. “I had an American dream that I needed to see through,” he said. “All of this traveling makes you realize how much more of an American you really are.”
Rock ’n’ roll reared its shaggy, greasy head during the recording of a split-CD with Paleschic, effectively birthing The Longshots. Gorman had recruited new friend Zobel to lay down some lead guitar. After finishing a solo, Zobel asked if it was “too heavy,” Gorman recalled. “That’s when we realized [the project] just became something else,” namely The Longshots.
The recording process led to the Kicker EP and a string of some pretty high-profile shows, including a Cinco de Mayo event with Fort Worth headliners Whiskey Folk Ramblers and with Fort Worth’s Fungi Girls at The Where House in August. (Fungi Girls recorded their Pitchfork-approved album Some Easy Magic at Dreamy Soundz.)
The Longshots are doing the “Fort Work” thing, for sure: hard-driving, punk-influenced blues songs (but with no reverb). They go well with Fungi, the ’Barbs, Quaker City –– those kinds of bands. But The Longshots don’t sound like any of those bands. “With some bands, they can play your wedding,” Gorman said through a smile. “With The Longshots, you’re not gonna want us at The Live Oak!”
Thu opening for Pujol, Soviet at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St, Dallas. $8-10. 214-744-3232. • 8pm Sat at Bill Murray Can Crash Here w/Gunga Galunga, The Hanna Barbarians, EPIC RUINS, Fungi Girls, and Oil Boom. $12. The Where House, 2510 Hemphill St, FW. 817-913-7777.