In 1996, Texas is the Reason released an album called "Do You Know Who You Are?, " and while on their way to potential superstardom, abruptly broke up mid tour in Germany to the disappointment of many. Ten years later, all four original members found themselves living in New York again at the same time, and decided they needed to get back together for one last show and finish it where they started. We caught up with guitarist Norman Brannon earlier this week to talk a bit about The reunion, their influence, and growing up listening to music in New York City. If you need a refresher, have a listen to a few tracks up on their myspace page.
So, what have you guys been up to for the last...10 years?
Haha. Well, I think all 4 of us, except for Chris our drummer who was like the diehard Brooklynite, everybody else started moving around. I went to Chicago for a couple years, and SF for a few years and I was mostly doing DJ work. I had a house music record label that I was running. I just wanted to get out of rock music for quite some time. I did a band with Scott called New End Original for a couple of years, but for the most part I kinda laid low and tried to get out.
Were you expecting such a big response to the reunion show coming up?
I don’t know what I was expecting, cause honestly when 10 years go by you kind of expect to not have people really care. And really, to some extent, doing this was as much for ourselves as it was for anybody else. I think that over the years we’ve all had different bands, we’ve all played different music and Texas was this thing that everyone kept coming back to. We couldn’t make a record without being compared to Texas. Doing this was really just a way of finally owning it. Cause to some extent, when people keep on bringing up your past, it becomes a monkey on your back. You try to distance yourself from it and move on. Now we’re far enough from it that we can come back to it, own it and celebrate.
A lot of bands today say they were influenced by you guys. What are your thoughts about these bands, and how do you feel your imprint was left on this kind of music 10 years later?
As far as current bands, its hard to say who listens to what. A friend of mine who is a writer told me he interviewed Armor for Sleep, and he mentioned that they were into the group and I was really happy about that because that was one band I heard their record and was like...they're doing it right! I love that band! Taking Back Sunday is a fantastic band. Same for Thursday and the New Found Glory Guys. They're all doing cool stuff...I'm happy that the music has resonated for so long. That's always unexpected and super rare. But one of the things I'm most psyched about is that it seems people remember us as a band with ethics. It wasn’t just the music, there was an ideal that we had growing up in New York City punk and hardcore scenes. And I didn’t want that to get obscured, so I'm happy that is being remembered as well.
Are you guys are all from around here?
I grew up in Queens, Scott from Long Island, Chris grew up in Jersey, and Garrett grew up in Buffalo.
When you were growing up, what do you remember about the music scene? Where did you hang out?
I first started hanging out, taking the 7 train into the city. This was probably in 87 and 88. Obviously at that time there was the CB's Matinees, The Pyramid Club, the old Ritz, that whole Rock Hotel scene. That's where I spent a lot of my time as a kid. The downtown record store scene was amazing. I couldn’t come into Manhattan without coming home with a handful of new records. At that time it was about Bleeker Bobs and Venus Records. Its actually funny…in 1991 I ended up selling my records back to Venus Records. So it kind of came full circle.
Are there any shows back then, in particular, that in 2006 you look back and say "Wow, I was there"?
There was one specific weekend that stuck with me over the years, musically as a musician and how I wanted a live show to be. I remember there was a full weekend, 3 nights, where Bad Brains, Leeway and Sick of it All played. 2 nights at the Ritz and one night at Sundance on Long Island. Or maybe it was the other way around. But I remember leaving each of those shows saying "That was the greatest show I had ever seen, and I will never see a better show." And I can say, 20 years later, that I still have not seen another show that has left as big an impression as that weekend. I think that was in the summer of 1989.
Do you remember your First Show in NYC?
I do. It was in my living room on 24th and 6th ave. At the time I was living in a loft, which was split with the guys who ran Eagle Vision Records. We decided to throw a party, and we decided that my band would play! There was probably no more than 100 people there, we had a lot of our friends from out of town in. I remember the Sick of it All guys were all there, a lot of Hardcore NY characters from the time. And nobody knew really what to expect. We were nervous as all hell. At the time, late 94, early 95...there wasn’t really like an abundance of "melodic hardcore" bands. So we kind of had to play with a lot of bands to figure out where we fit in. We played with the thrashiest of hardcore bands, but we also played with bands like Ida, who, to me is the greatest New York band.
Tickets go on sale this Saturday for their one-night-only reunion show at Irving Plaza on November 25th.