Bald beneath a backward snapback and bearded in a way that is somewhere between “lazily unshaven” and “edgy youth pastor,” Vodeo bassist/co-songwriter Jacob Pullig is mostly self-deprecating and tends to downplay everything. His take on his band’s approach to bandness is essentially, “We do this for fun,” as if making music is just another way to kill time at home, like playing Madden or masturbating.
Interviewing Pullig at a local watering hole, I wouldn’t say I was necessarily surprised, but he makes a lot of jokes about masturbating. It occurred to me that if you visit the Six Points-area house he shares with frontman/co-songwriter Jonathan Gehringer and Hendersons mastermind and Vodeo’s newest keyboardist, Nolan Ryan Robertson, be careful where you sit. There’s always a little bit of truth in even the broadest stretch of comedy. Or couch.
Pullig’s living situation sounds hilarious, like a British sitcom (Ruddy Yanks?) about a local rock band except North Texas af. Knowing Pullig was a trove of comic gold, I felt a kind of bizarre guilt about asking him the usual hack reporter questions, but there were a few factoids I figured readers would want to know. For example, Gehringer and Pullig pen most of the band’s material, though everything they write is ultimately work-shopped by the other three dudes: drummer Matt Mabe, the aforementioned Robertson, and Nick Tittle on guitar. Also, the guys have five or six songs they’re sitting on that they plan on releasing throughout the year.
More interesting to me was the day-to-day dynamic between Pullig and Gehringer. About their writing process, Pullig said, the two are “pretty agreeable,” but apparently that conviviality doesn’t extend to their friendship.
“We’re like …” Pullig said before pausing. “Eh, we fuckin’ hate each other. I mean, we love but also hate each other. We’ve lived together for five years. Nobody’s going to be more of an advocate of mine or more of a critic than Jon and vice-versa. We keep each other in pretty hard checks.”
Over a series of anecdotes that meandered through the past five years, their relationship sounds as antagonistic as their musicianship is tight. Onstage along with Mabe, Robertson, and Tittle, Pullig and Gehringer are a rhythmic and melodic machine, cranking out slinky threads of sticky white-boy funk that cling to your ears courtesy of hooky choruses sung in Gehringer’s silken, high tenor. Vodeo’s new recording, EP II – so named because Pullig said he and Gehringer weren’t “trying to be clever about it” – is five tracks of breathy, groovy dance rock showcasing the band’s seamless cohesiveness. From the chilled-out, neon glow of “Role Playing” to the hard-rock stomp of “Holy Moses,” Vodeo, as a unit, is rhythmically tight and atmospherically limber, but Pullig insists that for all their musical telepathy and compositional finesse, he and Gehringer are constantly butting heads. A handy comparison, Pulling said, is Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers.
My take: Whatever works. EP II is a pretty fun listen full of gleefully hammy riffage and dance-punk strut, and if that means Pullig and Gehringer need to get drunk and yell at each other from opposite ends of the living room to make cool music, well, bring a bottle of gin if they invite you over. That and a towel.
Vodeo EP II release party
8pm Sat w/Patrick Sweany at Magnolia Motor Lounge, 3005 Morton St, FW. $12. 817-332-3344