I don’t remember exactly when The Fibs slinked onto the scene, other than that this tall, lanky kid sporting a 7 o’clock shadow, pointy Chelsea boots, and a mop of dark hair was suddenly at the Chat and the Owl almost every night in 2012 or ’13. Through the Fairmount gossip chain, I heard he came from some Johnson County hellhole and allegedly had a band. As it turned out, his place of origin was as advertised – he’s from Joshua – and his band was indeed real.
The kid’s name was Preston Newberry, and I first saw his band at The Where House. Their music was a moody iteration of post-punk, less angular and more darkly romantic than what I was told to expect but laced with a sort of aloof, don’t-give-a-fuck sneer. And then they dropped off my radar. The next time I caught his band, it was at Barcadia, and Jen and Robby Rux were in it.
That pattern – of popping up for a minute and then dropping out of sight – seems to characterize Newberry’s band. Drummer Robby told me their infrequent appearances are kind of by design, but they’re also a function of a band sticking together even as life rolls along beneath them. For example, in the time between their shows at the Where and Barcadia, singer-guitarist Newberry and his original two bandmates recorded an album with Jen, played together for about a year or so, and then dissolved when Life happened. But the Ruxes were so enamored with Newberry’s baritone and his effects-soaked Britpop-influenced songs that they offered to be his backing band, with Jen on bass. That was when The Fibs released their debut, Hex Hex Hex, in February 2014.
With the Ruxes in the lineup, the band played through that year, and then in 2015, Newberry departed to North Carolina for a job, returning to Fort Worth in 2016. And thus did The Fibs pick up again, beginning work on Hex Hex Hex’s follow-up.
Robby said they finished the record a year ago but have been waiting to release it. “We sat on it a little bit because we wanted to promote it properly and book a tour with it,” he said. “We didn’t want to work that hard on something and not give it its proper due.”
Hex Hex Hex’s charm is due in no small part to its deliciously low-fi garage-rock aesthetic. The band’s eponymous new album sounds lush and polished by comparison, though that sonic upgrade is not to the music’s detriment. On the contrary, the shinier sonics give Newberry’s voice and the interplay of the album’s overdubs more room to dig into your brain. The band also added guitarist Joel Raif to the lineup this year.
“We have a lot of layers and a lot of overdubbed tracks,” Robby said, “so having another guitar player makes it easier to play the songs like they sound on the record.”
They also allowed adequate time to prepare a two-week West Coast tour that, kinda, starts at 8pm Friday at MASS (1002 S Main St; $8 cover) but officially on Saturday in El Paso and travels all the way to Seattle, with a stop in San Francisco to record with one of the band’s idols, Kelley Stoltz, who has produced some of the Ruxes’ and Newberry’s favorite bands –– Thee Oh Sees, the Fresh & Onlys, White Fence –– and who currently plays guitar in seminal British post-punk band Echo & The Bunnymen. The Fibs played a show at The Grotto with Stoltz a couple of years ago, which led to their connection.
“We played with him, and he just loved us,” Robby said. “And we ended up partying with him until, like, 4 in the morning and exchanged information and everything and have been in contact with him ever since.”
Like most local bands, the members of The Fibs all have day jobs, but they plan on heading out of town in their newly purchased minivan every three months or so. Plus, they’re already working out the logistics for a trip to Europe next summer. But for now, they’re stoked to reemerge on local stages, to remind people that they keep making really great music, no matter what happens in between shows.