Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It would be unfair to say that Matt Oliver, the former lead singer of Austin band Sound Team and the leader of new three-piece TV Torso, dwells on the life that he used to lead, not that many years ago. Some of it was good and a lot of it was not good. But a lot of it seemed exciting at the time. Much of it that was hogwash - having to live up to certain expectations of men and women in expensive suits and ties, dealing with a myriad different personalities and individuals in a band and in an industry that is so unkind and cutthroat that it burns, and suffering through pressures with booze and narcotics as buddies.
It's how years get lost in the haze and all of the shuffles. It's how people are warped and beaten down, turned into fragments of what they'd previously thought they'd become. It's kind of no fun, sort of unenlightening and just the diabolical ways of temptation and faith in others, faith that something should be working when there's really not a single guarantee out there for anyone.
On "Days of Being Wild," one of the finest post-Sound Team songs Oliver's written, he latches onto an idea and sensibility that permeates through a number of his compositions, certainly drifting into his mind frequently. It's the thought of what once was, and perhaps a thought about being cloudy toward what those days actually were and what they really stood for. It's an interesting exercise that he and the band - made up of Sound Team's drummer Jordan Johns and bassist Austin Leonard Jones - embark on, figuratively exploring the memories of the teeth and the nails that were pulled and sharpened in the days of their yore. They wind up with a pile of instances that are gorgeous by sight and semi-gorgeous by touch, all gorgeous by ear and yet they are spiked and somewhat jagged. They are not full of wistfulness and yet they are full of something more than wistfulness, combining such loaded sentiments that could be produced by a divorce and ones that are associated with a youthfulness that is always recalled more for its better times than its worst ones. He sings, "And let us not forget all the days that we were wild," just seconds after mentioning "an ocean of indifference" and so we're thrown, just as he was thrown, into that godforsaken quagmire of baloney and false pretense.
Oliver lives in a different life these days, with a wife and a family and those days of being wild are still rambling through his thoughts, but they do so in a different manner -- though they still tag along with a groove-tailored, droning and addictive wall of wailing sound that will knock your hat off and toss your hair back, or spiral it into the kinds of curls that Oliver himself has. It's powerful and moving and it is defiant of tastes and moods, just blast after blast of three men looking back at the confusions and the mistakes and trying not to be jealous of those times - often finding that not to be difficult at all. It seems that the need for having something wild in the fires is hard to detain. It's not simple to forget all of the miscues and all the days that were memorable for many of the wrong reasons. As people grow up, sadness/regret builds to burst and when it does, that's when the eruptions are more like hot springs and they can be heard as therapy and enjoyed as the unknown bliss that was probably hoped for all along. It's there where a different place will be found, one rid of venom and rotten milk, and one where flowers and decency reign and tired drama flounders.
*Essay originally published November, 2009