Welcome to the (Listening) Party

On a sunny June 5th afternoon, the Kids In A New Groove staff had a listening party and interview with our very own south-Austin guitar Music Mentor, True Lawton! Having performed and toured with several bands through the years, True is a professional musician and works with DeMaris Entertainment.

Welcome to the party.

KING: Where are you originally from?
True: Orlando, FL. It’s a really weird place. I connect with most people from Las Vegas, about being from Orlando, because so much of the place is built around the entertainment it offers, not necessarily the people that live there. The weather is also so humid and hot. It just disagreed with me…lots of Tommy Bahama shirts.

KING: What album are we listening to today?
True: Kansas: Point of Know Return.

KING: Why this album?
True: Several reasons – mainly how surprised I was the first time I listened to it. It’s the album that has “Dust in the Wind” on it, which is so over-played, and over-dramatized as such a cheesy, ballad-type of song. But it’s not on the first half of the record for some reason; it’s the first song on the second half of the record. The first half of the record is all pretty rockin’, complicated music. The complexity that the guitar, keyboard, and violin can play off of each other, the effects that they use, the three-part harmonies they sing…I mean, if you sit down and really listen to that record, they do everything so well. You find yourself thinking, “How did these people write this music? What were they doing?” And then you realize, “Oh, they lived in Kansas, there was nothing to do.” Like, that’s the joke of the band (no offense). I mean, you’re staring at wide-open spaces, you’ve gotta fill this space up with some stuff. At least, that’s what I think.

KING: What originally got you involved in music?
True: I come from a pretty musical family. My dad played guitar and sang when I was growing up. My uncle was also in a band, but I didn’t know that until I was in middle school. My mom’s side of the family were in a gospel singing group that toured around the US. My grandfather played piano. When I was 10yrs old, I saved up some money and was able to buy an electric guitar and an amp. Around that same time there were rehearsals going on for our church band, and my dad got roped into it because he played guitar. But it wasn’t really what I was into, or what I would consider fun – like punk, metal, or more hard-core type stuff.

KING: You’ve been in a few bands at this point. As a professional musician now, would you say you enjoy performing or recording more?
True: Recording. It is my favorite part. It’s where you get to make the ideas live. The performance is like a proof; you have to have a proof of concept. I love the challenge and execution parts of recording. The last time my band [Diesel and Dixie] and I recorded was at The Bubble Room, off of 45th and Red River. The producer’s name was Frenchie. We did a 4-song EP, and Frenchie had this idea of making our other guitar player Zach and I track all of our principle guitar parts at the same time. It was an extremely fun and challenging thing, which, after you play music in the same space several times, you realize there’s a lot of things that make a big difference. It really made us completely locked-in and connected, which turned out to be a really cool experience. That kind of thing is what makes it fun.

KING: Tell us about your work with DeMaris Entertainment.
True: We [DeMaris Entertainment] do everything from talent buying to full concert production (stage, sound, and lighting). We partner with Black Fret – I manage their events. Part of Black Fret’s structure is their members pay for private listening sessions. Those events are basically a place where artists can go, with incredibly good sound, an attentive audience, and a way for local music to thrive. A big part of it is providing an experiential aspect: the setting, vendors. I handle all the day-of managerial side of things for these events, through DeMaris Entertainment.

KING: What are your favorite local hang(s) in Austin?
TRUE: I go to the Omelettry Diner so much, I think I make the owner’s son nervous. The way to do it is counter service – coffee and food within 15 minutes. They consistently have good food, and it’s exactly what’d you’d expect: omelets and pancakes, eggs benedict with queso. One of the chefs is a bass player in a band that is a Black Fret nominee this year. She recognized me at one of the events I was producing, walked over and recited one of my regular orders. Is that too much? It’s kind of hard to admit that you want to be Cheers status…but it’s nice to be noticed as a regular.

KING: Definitely. Especially in Austin, it’s not hard to pick up on that “small town” vibe and get ingrained in whatever area you’re in.
True: Well, my best friend Richie and I have been friends for over a decade now (both from Central Florida), and one of the things we pride ourselves in is our ability to pick a good diner, and how much knowledge we have about diner items. If you’re looking for a diner consultant, you might want to look us up. *see end of interview for True’s “tried-and-true” Omelettry Diner menu picks.

KING: How would you describe the music industry in Austin compared to other places you’ve lived?
True: You know, we’re the “Music Capital of the World,” yet no one is making any money. Nobody, unless they’re like, a residential band at a venue that is playing to the point where it’s a full-time job. It’s really hard. There was a big census that just came out. It was something like, 89% of musicians out here were making under $10,000 a year with their music, all with secondary jobs. Even when you’re making money at shows, or on tour, no one really thinks about how much of that goes back into the cost of your craft.

KING: What advice then, would you give to our youth that aspire to be professional musicians with this kind of bleak reality?
True: Honestly, it seems like the people that are awarded in the music industry are those making music for mass appeal, or those making extreme art. I think almost all of it just comes down to being yourself. You have to do it for that reason. You have to figure out what parts of yourself really loves the music, and then operate from those parts. For me, there are a certain set of sounds that really resonate with who I am. It’s what I feel. It’s what music sounds like to me, and it’s what I put into my songwriting. If I ever get celebrated for anything, it’s going to be that. You’ll never get to the reward if you don’t put in the work, and that’s always how it works because it’s art. You don’t get to make good art without putting in the work. And that’s the truth.

True’s “Tried and True” Omelettry Menu s!

  • Burnet Road Benedict: Benedict on an English muffin w/ queso: “pretty awesome. You can substitute the two sides with avocado, that’s a great idea.”
  • Gingerbread pancake: Add the chocolate chips. It’s “pretty killer.”
  • True’s most ordered: ABLT +egg and cheese. “I love that.”
  • True sometimes orders – Popeye’s Favorite: Broccoli/spinach omelette (good to add sour cream). “That is really delicious.”

-Brooke June, Outreach Coordinator