Let The Word Be Heard: The Wheel Workers Return Home After Introducing Themselves to the South
The Wheel Workers are a Houston mainstay, with three albums already under their belts since 2011 (and one on the way), but for anyone outside of Texas, they are criminally not as well-known, despite their obvious greatness. So how does a band go about getting the word out? They hit the road for a six-date tour. Houston, Beaumont, New Orleans, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Denton, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, all got their chance to learn what Houston already knows!
Now that they’re back — and playing The Satellite Bar tonight — my curiosity got the best of me, so I got a hold of Steven Higginbotham and Craig Wilkins to ask them about the tour, their new album, and what’s coming up next.
SCR: On your tour, which places have you guys played before or was it all new?
Steven Higginbotham: We’d played Beaumont and Denton before; the others were all new.
Did any scenes or cities make you say “we can’t wait to return”? Were there any bands you saw and ran right over to buy their music?
Steven: We played with a lot of great bands on the tour. UnU from Beaumont was a great host and turn every show into a fun party, Kay Weathers in New Orleans was mesmerizing as always, and especially the Criminal Birds in Denton, TX. Those guys are amazing. Astounding musicianship, great songwriting and arrangements, and super cool people, as well. Everyone should buy their music online now! We’re bringing them down to Satellite Bar on Wednesday, October 26th, and you really don’t want to miss them.
Craig Wilkins: Criminal Birds were super bad ass, but we already knew that. Denton was really great, especially for a Wednesday night. Tulsa and Hot Springs were both fun as hell, although I don’t know how much of that is just the fact that we had never played there before. Maxine’s in Hot Springs knows how to treat a band. We got a few pizzas outta the deal, among other things. Good ones, too.
I have heard that about Maxine’s!
Steven: I didn’t know what to think when we got into Tulsa, especially since there was no local support. But the Soundpony Bar‘s crowd really warmed up to us and demanded several encores! It’s really rewarding when you’ve got a totally new crowd and win them over like that.
Did you vary the set list a little, a lot, or keep it the same each night?
Steven: We had a core set list of around 11 songs that we varied some. But in Tulsa we dug a little deeper. We’re playing three new songs from the upcoming fourth album, including the first single we released last month, “Silly Boy.”
Knowing you guys have vegans in the band, how was the vegan situation? Did you find any awesome surprise restaurants along the way or a place you’d heard about from friends?
Steven: I was impressed with the options! Especially in Denton and Tulsa. There were quite a few PB&J sandwiches consumed, as well.
Craig: Well, the first leg of the tour, we were in this luxury-condo-on-wheels, so I got to do a lot of cooking. We obviously had to eat at Seed in NOLA, but that was my only demand. The second leg of the tour — last two days — I just ended up Googling “vegan whatevercitywewerein”. Super lucked out in Tulsa, as the venue we were playing was one block from the only vegan-friendly place in town. And it ruled.
I saw your amazing tour bus. Did someone do the math and realize it was cheaper to rent that and live in it than to pay to stay in motels?
Craig: That massive beast belongs to Jake Northam, our drummer we use when Kevin [Radomski] isn’t available.
Steven: Jake plays in a supercool band, Second Runner Up. He did an outstanding job filling in, and he really went above and beyond by driving and maintaining that massive beast of a van for the first half of the tour.
Ah, that’s great! Now that you’re home, are you still recording or now mixing your latest record?
Steven: We’ve got several things going on. First, we’re making great progress on the next record. Three songs are totally done, and the rest are getting close. Hoping to have the record mixed in a month or two.
We’re also working on a series of live videos recorded from our rehearsal space. And just today I was getting schedules aligned so we can work on writing a bunch of new songs for the fifth record. Or maybe the sixth….
Today I’m recording violin on an amazing song by A Sundae Drive. I helped them record drums and a few other instruments on their most recent effort. So yeah, keeping busy!
Lastly, what bands and albums were you listening to on the tour?
Craig: I don’t really remember listening to much music. In the RV, it was all card games and goofy VHS movies. In the van was all reading and sleeping.
Steven: I’ve been going through a Sonic Youth phase lately, especially the album Sister. I’m also listening to Kay Weathers’ EP Songs for Lucy. Great stuff.
Thanks again to the guys for giving me the lowdown. Now let’s all show them how happy we are to have The Wheel Workers back in Houston at Satellite Bar. END