Photo by Matt Pence
Centro-matic’s history can be a bit unwieldy. With ten albums, hundreds of songs, and half-a-dozen side projects, just keeping up with the deluge is part of the fun. Will Johnson formed the group in Denton in the late ’90s as a solo project, but soon added drummer Matt Pence, keyboardist Scott Danbom, bassist Mark Hedman. Unbelievably, the lineup has remained completely stable since then, which might explain how the group can keep churning out music so effortlessly.
For their eleventh album, Centro-matic chose a title that seems to sum up their entire career: Take Pride In Your Long Odds. Throughout, the band has flown somewhat under the radar, despite rubbing shoulders with My Morning Jacket, Bright Eyes, the Drive-By Truckers, and more. No Depression magazine dubbed Will Johnson its artist of the decade in 2009. But even with all the accolades, Centro-matic tend to just put their collective head down and follow their muse wherever it leads them.
For Take Pride, the muse was harder to come by, given the band members are all spread out with their own families these days. On some songs, like “Cross Path,” Johnson had to be creative in carving out time. “I was looking after my daughter who was about nine months old at the time and writing whenever I could find pockets of time, “ he told American Songwriter. “I remember carrying her up the stairs in our little apartment, surely to change a diaper, and that vocal melody and chord structure hit me at the same time.” The bolt of inspiration sat on the shelves for a few years before Centro-matic could get to it, but once they did, they turned the sketch into a full-blown rock-and-roller. The group recently stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A for a live session, and with an energetic version of “Cross Path,” Centro-matic prove once again that their one of the best pure rock bands around.