By Zach Schepis
Photo courtesy of The Longshots.
Joey Gorman sits on his porch in Fort Worth, Texas, and watches a truck rattle along down the road. The trail of its exhaust kicks some imaginary heat across the other end of the line, where those of us in the frostbitten streets of Manhattan can only dream of warmer southlands.
“We played in Brooklyn not too long ago for the CMJs,” says Gorman, referring to his country-punk group The Longshots. “The turnout wasn’t amazing but the energy was all there. That’s the most important part.”
South By Southwest is just around the corner, and the songwriter can’t help but look to the future. The band plans to take the trip in time for media week–hopping on sessions like Jam in the Van and Balcony Television. But unless Red Bull contacts them to headline a stage, The Longshots aren’t exactly looking to steep themselves too deeply in the festivities.
Gorman is 26 years old, and has been attending SxSW for nearly six years now. During that time, he’s noticed an inevitable shift in the scope and direction of the annual gathering.
“It went from being an official showcase into a hipster third-world country for a few days,” he laughs. “A lot of bands just go and take pics that they hope will look good on social media and return with the first sunburn of the year.”
It’s not that Gorman is a pessimist, or that he thinks the opportunity is a long-shot either. After formative years spent trying to chase blogs for coverage, The Longshots all agreed that searching for validity is a fruitless endeavor. Gorman argues that if you want to sustain a band for the long haul, then it has to amount to more than just a “show-and-tell” mentality.
The Longshots never aimed to be a simple flash in the media’s pan. The idea for the group arose from a spontaneous daydream between members Gorman and Alex Zobel during a road trip they took to pick up an old tape-recorder. Gorman always wanted to be in a rock and roll band, but the years he spent travelling prevented him from meeting the people to help make it possible. All the while, he rambled from open-mic to open-mic, toting his acoustic guitar and a pocketful of folk songs.
The image is filled with a romantic irony–through all of the playful noise it’s apparent that a southern country sound is moving through the distortion, but in a subtle way. It’s like a raging drunk noise punk that tells you he used to be a ranch hand between guitar solos.
Everyone in the Longshots agrees that maintaining the integrity, the roots of the music, is what’s most important now. As of late, matters have been getting much more serious for the band. They’re making efforts to be less of a party band, and more composed professionally.
Well, sort of.
“Mostly we’re just staying aware of what we put in our bodies,” says Gorman. “Whether that means you’re still eating Big Macs or still smoking joints, whatever the hell; if you’re a vegan, nobody is pushing but definitely holding one another accountable for attitude.”
For a band that has an undeniable sense of adventure and a brazen spirit, creating a balance between the madness and meditation is an obstacle worth diving into. Flying a plane into New York, reading Zen tarot cards and drinking Bloody Marys while contemplating arrival… this is pretty standard fare. But it’s a dynamic that maintains the essence of rock and roll while moving ahead consciously.
It’s only made possible because The Longshots understand the importance of establishing themselves as a single functioning unit. Perhaps more importantly, even, as a family. After going through the first batch of touring, press, and indie hoopla, they’ve realized that it’s really just about the band. They’ve gotten good at leaning on one other and understanding the necessary vulnerability.
Communication is vital. With the band pursuing a more DIY approach (they’re not waiting for support from Pitchfork anytime soon, though they’d appreciate a shout-out) turning an ear inward to their own desires as artists will keep the music growing.
“We need to keep one another up to date on how we’re actually feeling, because that’s going to come across no matter what we do,” says Gorman.
“Whether it’s playing live or recording. Whether it’s fucked up, constipated, or pissed off–we’re a family.”
To hear the rest of our interview with The Longshots, tune into this week’s Discovery Corner.
Or find your own way to interpret The Longshots by clicking here.