Seth Reeves does a near-flawless impersonation of former President George W. Bush. The secret to the imitation, said the frontman to Fort Worth alt-country stylists Siberian Traps, is to state some platitude as if you’ve just said something profound.
“Every country in the world wants freedom,” he said, mimicking the former president’s twang and mannerisms during an interview at a Near Southside coffeeshop.
When asked about Siberian Traps, Reeves became more thoughtful. The band isn’t just an excuse for some friends to get together, have fun, and drink some beer. The Fort Worth quartet, purveying what Reeves called “psychedelic cowboy rock ’n’ roll,” is polished and well-traveled. The guys work hard, gigging and recording seemingly nonstop.
“We don’t sound like anyone else,” Reeves said. “I know that is kind of cliché to say, but when you consider everything that everyone contributes to the band, it makes our sound distinct.”
The Traps’ music is a mélange of intense, crisp rhythms and complex, layered melodies. Reeves’ voice is naturally dramatic. He delivers his smart lyrics in a terse quaver, reminiscent of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James (but without whipping his hair around). Reeves’ subject matter is often rooted in a setting, real or imagined, and is usually autobiographical.
“I have a strong sense of place, whether it’s a neighborhood in Fort Worth or some kind of scene in my head,” he said.
Reeves writes the songs, but each player comes up with his own parts. “If it’s not a song I could perform with an acoustic guitar, then I wouldn’t show it to them,” Reeves said, meaning that the tune has to be fundamentally solid. “I like collaborating, because I’m always anxious to see how a song is going to be transformed by the group and how it will undergo a metamorphosis once the group gets hold of it.”
Though Siberian Traps are new and still developing, the band has inspired nearly unheard-of levels of commitment and dedication from its members. Some of the guys have moved from Nashville to Fort Worth to keep the band together. With every move, the stake that each member has in Siberian Traps becomes greater.
In 2008, Reeves, a Burleson high school English teacher, decided to take his music career more seriously. He and a few other local musos, including Jake Paleschic and Joey Gorman, who would go on to form The Longshots, packed up and moved north to Nashville to pursue their dreams. “We knew people there and thought there might be some good opportunities,” Reeves said. “I liked the town, liked the vibe, and started playing solo shows.”
During a solo gig at a house party, Reeves met drummer Pete Wierenga. The two teamed up with guitarist Parker Donaldson and played as a trio around Nashville. Though the three clicked musically, they felt out of place in a music scene dominated by radio country and same-sounding bands.
“Nashville is a good place to start and get good, but there’s not a large enough support network for what we do,” Wierenga said. “We did all right, but things started leveling out. There was no growth.”
With the band stagnating in Music City, Reeves decided to move home for personal reasons. His bandmates soon joined him, due in part to their great experiences in Fort Worth while on tour.
“Everyone we’ve met has been supportive,” Wierenga said. “It’s been cool seeing how musicians help each other out. You support their projects, and they’ll support yours.”
The band picked up bassist Mike Best and began gigging. And gigging. Though they’ve been back in Fort Worth only a few months, Siberian Traps have already played some high-profile gigs, most notably at Lola’s Saloon and The Where House, and are digging into The Scene. The band’s song “Asheville” appears on Group Therapy Vol. 1, a compilation cassette tape released last week by Fort Worth record labels Lo-Life Recordings and Dreamy Soundz Records, home of the analog recording studio Dreamy Soundz (Fungi Girls, The Longshots, Year of the Bear). Siberian Traps also recorded an album, Blackfoot, in Nashville last spring and hope to release it over the next month or so. Reeves said the band plans on touring once the album is out.
As Dubya might have said, all the guys want, really, is freedom.
Sun, Jan. 13, w/Ice Eater, Mailman, and Jake Paleschic & Patriot at Lola’s Saloon, 2736 W 6th St, FW. $5-9. 817-877-0666.