Fort Worth singer-songwriter Preston Newberry, 24, is a man of many interests. He restores old homes to pay the bills and has just started his own hummus delivery business in the Near Southside’s historic Fairmount district, where he hopes to reopen The Flying Carpet, a short-lived Middle Eastern restaurant where he once worked. But he pours his heart and soul into his music –– grand, effects-laden doom rock that can sound ambient and experimental or catchy and downright danceable. Although he also plays in the garage rock duo Jack Thunder & The Road Soda, Newberry’s main musical platform is The Fibs, the trio of him on guitar and vocals, Jennifer Rux on bass, and Robby Rux on drums.
The Ruxes, of course, are the husband and wife who own Dreamy Soundz, the Fairmount studio and record label that is responsible for The Fibs’ ominous, artful, brand-new debut album, Hex Hex Hex. The songs were recorded in one long session in December of 2012, when The Fibs’ original lineup included drummer Dylan Parks and bassist Westley Harwart. A lot can change in 13 months –– Parks and Harwart left to pursue other projects, and the Ruxes recorded and produced other bands before finally releasing Hex Hex Hex and officially joining the band in one stroke. To be clear, though: The majestically bleak and distorted guitar and the echoing, quasi-apocalyptic ramblings delivered in a cabaret MC’s sing-talking style are all Newberry’s creation.
“I wanted Hex Hex Hex to be sort of a concept album, at least in terms of the sound,” he said. “I wanted it to flow like night and day. Side A would be dark and doomy, and the second side would be happy and dancey.”
No matter which musicians are playing alongside him, Newberry is adamant about getting his evocative sound right onstage. “It’s always been a thing of mine about other bands: ‘If you can’t reproduce live what you recorded in a studio, then I don’t like you,’ ” he said with an easy laugh. “I have all my [guitar and vocal] effects processors arranged [onstage] just right. … So, yeah, you’re gonna hear the same sound live as you hear on the album.”
Newberry wasn’t always drawn to carefully crafted noise rock. He started out a few years ago as a Tarrant County College student writing and performing “folky political shit,” he said, with an acoustic guitar and harmonica –– and a serious love for Dylan and Cash. Then quite by accident, he found himself hypnotized by the music of two decidedly un-acoustic acts: England’s dubstep duo 16bit and Bassnectar, the stage name of Lorin Ashton, a California-based ambient producer and DJ.
“16bit has a song called ‘Chainsaw Calligraphy’ that sounds like, I don’t know, intergalactic robots battling or fucking or something in outer space,” Newberry said. “After I heard it I went out and bought a reverb pedal and a compression pedal. I started mixing and changing the order [of my effects pedals] and found the sound I like. I never intended to make electronic music. I just wanted to build a bridge between that and rock ’n’ roll music” –– Newberry paused with mock self-importance –– “for the sake of all humankind.”
For The Fibs’ album release show (this Saturday at The Where House), the band will play Hex Hex Hex straight through, he said, plus a new tune for a forthcoming Dreamy Soundz compilation. Hex Hex Hex will be released on cassette now and vinyl later.
Newberry said he never knows how audiences will respond to his band’s consciously bipolar vibe –– jumpy and joyful one song and shadowy and dirge-like the next.
“We [recently] opened a show at The Boiled Owl that was capacity by the time we set up,” he recalled. “By the second song people were dancing everywhere. We brought out confetti shooters and sprayed the crowd. The sound was cool coming out of our cheap little PA system. It was a great time, man.”
The Fibs’ album release show
9pm Sat w/Nathan Brown, The Silver Saint, Mercury Rocket at The Where House, 2510 Hemphill St, FW. $5. 817-707-9762.