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Austin rock band anniversary tour stops in OKC

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PATRICK MCHUGH
  • Patrick McHugh

For two decades, Austin-based ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead has made a career of annihilating the lines between progressive rock, indie music and punk rock. It has become a regional regular with a large and loyal following in and around Oklahoma.

To celebrate, it launches its 20th anniversary tour from Oklahoma City with a Friday visit to The Conservatory, 8911 N. Western Ave.

Started by drummer Jason Reece and vocalist and guitarist Conrad Keely in 1995, Trail of Dead’s sound is an amalgam of varied and seemingly disparate genres of music. Its influences include post-hardcore pioneer Fugazi, ’70s psychedelic blues-rock monster Led Zeppelin, classical German composer Johann Sebastian Bach and even hip-hop icon Public Enemy.

Lyrically, the band also hasn’t been afraid to tackle issues that are both personal and political in nature. For example, its eighth record, Lost Songs, released in 2012, is a wholly political album that drew from current events — including the Syrian civil war — and was in part dedicated to Russian feminist punk act Pussy Riot.

However, its latest album, IX, released last year, travelled both lyrically and sonically in almost the opposite direction. The band even changed how it recorded its songs, Reece said in a recent phone interview with Oklahoma Gazette.

Trail of Dead headed out to Sonic Ranch, located in a town called Tornillo, Texas.

“A lot of people that we know have recorded out there, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Beach House,” Reece said. “We were out there in the desert, trying to figure out what direction we wanted to take the music, and we just jammed for hours.”

The Sonic Ranch recordings included hours of instrumental tracks fit for a horror or sci-fi film soundtrack, he said, but many also became the songs that formed IX.

“A lot of the lyrical direction [of those songs] is more about loss and the people and things we’ve lost in the past,” Reece said. “I don’t think we’ve ever really touched on that subject.”

Joining Trail of Dead on this tour is Canadian DIY alt-rock act Your Favorite Enemies. In addition to juxtaposing sociopolitical lyrics with its radio-friendly sound, the band has worked extensively with groups like Amnesty International on issues abroad and close to home.

“That’s always been part of who we were, even before being in a band,” said guitarist Jeff Beaulieu. “We’ve always been doing conferences in high schools and talking about bullying and racism.”

Above all else, Beaulieu said, Your Favorite Enemies’ main focus is freedom of speech, the press and expression.

“That always has been our main battlefield,” he said. “Music is such a powerful tool, and I think it’s great when people encourage it to go beyond just rock ’n’ roll.”

Print headline: IX Dead, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead launches its 20th anniversary tour from OKC with a Friday show.

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