By Leah Scarpelli | August 25, 2023 4:09 pm
“What Greybird represents is just all the stuff that just isn’t really used anymore too much or just the stuff that’s kind of going away … this is kind of homage to all those things that you actually got to use your hands.”
It’s been years since the Austin band T Bird & the Breaks announced an “indefinite hiatus” in 2016, but Tim “T Bird” Crane never left the world of Texas music: working at Bud’s Recording Services in the capital city and performing under the name “Jank Sinatra” – not to mention a new T Bird single out this summer.
Crane had also been working on a collection of songs he brought to his friends of the Austin duo Greyhounds. The project, out today, is called “Greybird.”
Andrew Trube of Greyhounds, along with Crane and Sam Patlove from T Bird and the Breaks, sat down in the Texas Standard studios to tell us more about the collaboration.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: How did this project come about? I guess I’m inclined to ask Tim because, as I understand it, a lot of these songs come from you. But maybe we should turn to the representative of the Greyhounds here, Andrew. Tell us your side of the story here.
Andrew Trube: You know, we’ve known Tim and Sam for quite a while now and been big fans of T Bird & the Breaks for years and became friends. And he brought us these tunes and said that he felt that these were ‘Hounds tunes. And so we were like, Well, they sound like T Bird & the Breaks tunes. And we’re like, okay, well, let’s do this. So, we spent the last eight years kind of just compiling when we had time in the studio over at Bud’s.
And so out of this, 13 songs have emerged on a new album, the self-titled “Greybird,” and some singles as well. I have to ask, Tim, when you were writing these songs – and I understand this was over a period of time – did you ever think, ‘Well, I’m just going to do this solo’? Or maybe that the guys in T Bird & the Breaks will take these up, or what?
Tim Crane: Sure. Yeah. You know, a lot of these songs I sat down and wrote specifically for Anthony Farrell and Andrew Trube of Greyhounds. And then some other ones, like not always when I sit down to write something or when something like a song occurs to me, do I really have like a project, you know, that I have it earmarked for – it might just be a song that comes and then I’m like, Oh, this would be super cool to do with the Greyhounds, you know, or T Bird & the Breaks. You know what I mean? It’s kind of like the inspiration might strike and then it’s like, Wow, that’d be interesting to do with, you know, with Andrew singing it.
A lot of folks say that in the Austin music scene, a lot of that collaboration that used to happen among artists has disappeared – but this would suggest quite the opposite. I mean, you have two bands sort of mutually appreciating each other, and out of it comes this collaboration of “Greybird.” And you all come from different backgrounds, right? I mean, Tim, I think you are originally from Massachusetts?
Tim Crane: Yeah, that’s right. I moved to Texas and Austin specifically for music. You know, the scene down here was way more to my liking than it was in Massachusetts.
Tim Crane: Well, me and Sam had a band up there, and we would play in places like, you know, Boston and New York City. And it really just kind of seemed like people couldn’t be bothered, you know? And then right away, like the first day I got to Austin when I visited, like, you know, I was just walking down Sixth Street and people were playing blues and they had me up on stage to sit in with harmonica. And then I’m going over to like Momo’s and people are like two-stepping to like Warren Hood & the Hoodlums. It was just like way more like people going out to see live music daily was a thing and like, be a part of the live music. Up there, that wasn’t my experience, so it was like a totally new thing to me. And I was like, Wow, this is where I want to be.
Sam, what did you make of this when the two forces started coming together? Were you on board, or how did you feel? Because in a way, I mean, T Bird & the Breaks is a big enough project, and it has a lot of name recognition already, right?
Sam Patlove: Yeah, absolutely. I was working with the Greyhounds starting like 10 or 12 years ago. So I’ve been engineering and playing on their records for all through that time. So it’d been a goal of mine to get Tim’s writing together with the Greyhounds really that whole time. So that was one of my contributions, I guess, was just to keep pushing: Let’s do this.
Well, for folks who may not particularly understand, tell us a little bit about how you got into this – it’s hard to say genre, but funky. How do y’all describe the music, and why do you think it resonates so much in Texas?
Andrew Trube: I wanted to point out something you brought up, too, earlier: The fact that this collaboration seems like something that’s kind of not happening anymore. And that’s kind of like what we talked about Greybird being like an endangered species and how we’re an endangered species and this project is and like how the equipment we used are endangered, and like, you know, just the whole scene here in Austin, like how Tim moved down here back in the day where he could get $400 rent or be able to have time to collaborate and write – and it’s just kind of not an option anymore, really, for a lot of people like it used to be.
What Greybird represents is just all the stuff that just isn’t really used anymore too much or just the stuff that’s kind of going away, like collaborating and the Austin music scene and even like terrestrial radio and just everything is just shifting so much, you know. But we’re huge fans of all of that. So this is kind of homage to all those things that you actually got to use your hands.
Yeah, very analog and also very Texan. There’s a song in fact called Greezy Rider that has some very specific references to Texas – not relative to Greezy Wheels, which used to be a big band in the old Austin music scene, as I understand it. But can you say more about these references to Texas? And I guess part of this comes from touring as a musician, the mention of Texas highways.
Tim Crane: Yeah, yeah. So in that song, that song is really about being a like a long range trucker, right? Or a traveling musician, you know what I mean? Like touring is kind of rough stuff, or can be, so we have Andrew Trube doing like some CB trucker radio chatter, and he’s like shouting out different Texas highways and, you know, “meet me at the Flying J” and all this and that.
Now, I understand a friend of yours, Samuel Grey Horse, speaks some words from the Lakota-Dené language on that first track, “Truth Inside.” What’s he saying there?
Andrew Trube: Well, he’s saying a bunch of things. He’s saying to stay out of your head and stay in your heart. He’s also saying thank you and thank you to the Mother Earth and to, you know, everyone, just the energy and just trying to spread energy, like good energy.
Were you thinking that this is a great way to kick off an album because it’s about kind of the the vibe, the feelings, or what were you thinking when when you decided to kick off the album with with it?
Tim Crane: That song specifically is kind of like a little bit of a truth to power joint, and, you know, Samuel Grey Horse is Native. It’s pretty heavy to have somebody like him contributing to something like that, you know what I mean? That was my thinking.
And he’s just a friend of the bands?
Andrew Trube: Yeah, he grew up here in Austin. He’s actually Apache Mescalero, but he prays Lakota-Dené, he speaks that language. And so, he just always comes around the studio at the right time. And we were working on that track and we needed some, you know, special energy put on it, and he definitely soaked it with that.
You know, the artwork for this project and the description sort of veer into a kind of, I don’t know, almost a fantasy – cartoon versions of each of you riding on some kind of dog-dragon creature. I’m not sure.
Andrew Trube: That’s Greybird.
Tim Crane: That’s Greybird.
That’s Greybird! Where did the inspiration come for for that character and, you know, the approach, because it is sort of – I was going to say neo psychedelic, but I don’t want to coin anything new that might not be accurate.
Andrew Trube: But yeah, basically yeah, Greybird, it was just kind of – we’re like, this can’t really be a ‘hound’s record and it can’t be really T Bird and the Breaks record. So, we’re just like, this kind of a concept and an idea of the two bands coming together and collaborating and recording. And so, we just thought of this idea like we’re just these mythical kind of like knights, musical knights going through this like, you know, land on this creature that’s half bird, half dog. And we’re, we’re riding it through this adventure. So, this endangered species, you know, like we are. And just like, all the stuff, like it, it just kind of, we went a little crazy with it and, and just had fun, you know, like, it’s just this adventure we’re taking with this, you know, kind of like Falkor from The Neverending Story. But we got our own Greybird, so.
I love it. Sam, as someone behind the board, I guess you must have thought, well, this would work or wouldn’t work for T Bird & the Breaks, which is a band that you’re in, or would work, wouldn’t work fully with Greyhounds. And I’m curious, how do you see this collaboration differing from the project that you’re in with T Bird?
Sam Patlove: Well, I think the T Bird side is sort of obviously the songwriting. And Tim and I have a specific sort of production style that we both just naturally gravitate toward. But then the Greyhounds, they do their own thing and have their own sound. So most of the playing is them. And I think that’s where it comes together. So it’s sort of songwriting/production, T Bird, and performance, Greyhounds.
Now, Tim, you’ve been very much involved in music since T Bird & the Breaks went on hiatus. What sort of projects you’ve been working on?
Tim Crane: I’ve been trying to, you know, I’m lucky enough to get into Bud’s Recording Services and work with Sammy and Andrew. I’ve been trying to do more writing and production for other bands. I have some solo stuff under Jank Sinatra, but also a lot of like movie and television scoring. That’s been really fun to kind of stretch out and not necessarily sing on a track, you know what I mean?
Will T Bird be coming back, or no?
Tim Crane: Yeah, yeah. I mean we have some new T Bird & the Breaks material. So we’re going to keep on with the T Bird & the Breaks singles, and we have a full-length record that we’re wrapping up mixing right now. So that’ll be out maybe this year, maybe early next year.
Andrew, what’s coming up for Greyhounds?
Andrew Trube: Yeah, well, obviously this project, but we’re going up to New York to do kind of this weird jazz album in October, so that’ll be coming out. That’s going to be super bizarro. And then we were just planning on doing some touring next year – we’ve been together for 25 years next year. So, we’re going to put out an album called “25” and just kind of have a retrospective of all the years of touring and playing.
Let’s imagine – and I don’t think this is stretching possibilities too much – Greybird really takes flight. So, Tim, Sam, Andrew, what do you do with T Bird & the Breaks and Greyhounds? Have you thought about the possibility that Greybird becomes its own thing and not so much an amalgam of these two bands, but, you know, something completely new well, what do you do with these other projects you’re working on?
Tim Crane: Well, I mean, we’d have to talk about it, but I’d say just keep doing em, you know? I mean, there’s no reason we couldn’t put out a T Bird & the Breaks record every one or two years. And same with Greyhounds and then same with Greybird. You know, we can just have a few different projects, like, the same way that like you’ll see – I’m trying to think of a good example – but you’ll see like a band that’s doing well and then they’re like, you know, maybe their lead singer will go to a solo record and then they’ll come back and do a band record, you know what I mean?
Andrew Trube: Well, I hope it blows up. That’d be great. Yeah, we’d have to go and do a tour or go wherever, man. Yeah. Go for it. Let’s go to the stratosphere. I’m ready to play the giant Moody place. Drop a big Greybird from the ceiling.
Sam Patlove: Every project helps every other project, I think, is what it comes down to. So, we just like to keep working.
Andrew Trube: If it like, “blows up,” that’d be great. I mean, that’s just more icing on the cake. You know, it just was such an honor to get to do this project anyway and be able to put it out. It’s like if it really, really resonates – it resonates for me – but if it resonates for everyone else, then heck yeah, we’re down to do whatever. I mean, we’ll take it as far as it can go.