Andy Eppler
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I recall attending a Rolling Stones stadium show that was so raw, alluring and dynamic as to make the opening act forgettable - and the opener was ZZ Top! I mention that because, for a half hour Friday, the Cactus audience paid respectful attention to guitarist and singer-songwriter Andy Eppler.

Cactus president Don Caldwell gave a glowing introduction, saying Eppler reminds him of Ely as a struggling young musician. The opener proved likable, with new supporters shouting out his suggested public relations slogan: "Take that, Amarillo!"

Original melodies impressed, and there was nothing wrong with any Eppler original that an extra verse or two couldn't fix. Too many early songs used a far-too-repetitive hook.

Expressing frustration in clever fashion, his rhyming of plains and Maines saw him exiting to smiles, though.

Then jaws dropped when Ely kicked off with "All Just to Get to You," saving traditional opener "I Had My Hopes Up High" for six songs later.

Regardless, intensity began building and Ely's tribute to the land found a powerful rendition of "All That You Need" paving the way for a masterful blending of accordion and guitar on "Because of the Wind." - Avalanche Journal


Local musician releases second album of poetry


Always wearing his trusty black beanie, local musician Andy Eppler embodies a new breed of West Texas artists. Beneath his beanie lies a mind teeming with unrestricted creativity as it sizzles through the processes of independent art - writing, performing, publishing and producing.

And most of this, the 23-year-old said, he does solely on his laptop computer.

After the success of "There is No Underground," his first album - which he released in 2007 and of which he said he sold more than 500 copies, not including sales on his Web site and iTunes - Eppler wanted to do something different, something experimental and something uncommon.

In a manner true to Lubbock's Bohemian subculture, he hung up his guitar, picked up his pen and created his second album.

Other than a handful of background guitar strums and subtle voice effects, Eppler's words stand alone throughout his yet-unreleased second album, "Dark Places." The album consists of eight poems, two grim short stories and a startlingly unabashed self-awareness.

"If I knew a local artist that was already doing music, I'd like to hear if they had something completely different going on, and, being an independent artist, I can put out anything I want," he said. "I decided to exercise that."

Also, Eppler said he wanted to have a "departure" from music for his second album, which he plans to release on the Internet sometime during the next two months. While writing and compiling the poetry and prose for the album, he drew from personal experience.

"Like anything I do, there's probably a piece of me in there," he said. "That's the great thing about art. All people of art are like that. Without meaning to, you write about something that, later on, you find significant."

Growing up in Lubbock may have played a role in his choice to become a musician, Eppler said, though it is hard to say for sure. Undoubtedly, life in Lubbock drives people to play music, even if they are not embraced by the city at first, such as was the case of Buddy Holly.

"Lubbock is so musically - if you're an artist or if you have an artistic temperament - everybody plays the guitar so they apply it to music," he said. "If you're an artistic person in Lubbock, the likelihood of you becoming a writer is substantially lower than of you becoming a musician, just because that's considered … the go-to mode of rebellion."

Talent, alone, does not guarantee success for a musician, Eppler said. He spends a great deal of time performing. During what little free time he does have, Eppler works diligently to promote himself. "Drive" is a key component in the success of a musician.

Since he was 16 years old, he said he has performed his music at coffee shops and eventually bars, where he had to "sneak into his own shows" because he was not yet 21 years old.

Now, years later, Eppler earns enough money with his music to support himself. He said he wanted to experiment more with his creativity and release a recording of his other passion: writing. During the album's seventh track, "Paper and Pen," Eppler defines himself as "the point between paper and pen."

Too much of today's music holds little artistic expression, he said. Most musicians of his generation write formulaic lyrics and produce albums infused with artificial effects. Such music offers little in the way of musical progress.

"If you're going to make art," he said, "you might as well make it legitimate."

For instance, the album's first short story, "The Abernathys," explores the emotional desperation that accompanies a loved one's death. Eppler said he wrote it not long after his wedding and the death of his grandfather, approximately 18 months ago.

He said his writing necessarily does not mirror his life directly, but it does mirror his thoughts and his identity.

Growing up as the son of a local preacher - a trait he finds remarkably common among Lubbock's musicians - he said he has had his struggles with his own spirituality and wanted to delve into those struggles through the album's second short story.

As the album's 11-minute final track, "The Surgeons of Shadow" is a graphic account of sacrifice and suffering, good and evil.

Through the album's poetry, Eppler said he also gives listeners a glimpse into how he feels about certain issues, ranging anywhere from the unsightly curtains in his living-room to his apathy toward politics.

During the album's second poem, "Political Man," he gives a sarcastic and somewhat-scathing critique of politicians.

"You fascinate me political man, how your miraculous mind in all its infinite capacity could hold so much truth and reason," Eppler's voice reads. "By what treachery and foolishness has it come to be that the world has not recognized you for the fountain of wisdom that you are?"

The motivation behind "Dark Places" was not money, he said. He created the album to merely expand hi - Daily Toreador


Chris Oglesby_Interviews_Andy Eppler_October 17, 2007_via telephone; Andy at his home in LBK, author at his own in Austin

Chris: Andy, the first time we met was at the party in Lubbock celebrating the first anniversary of my book, Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music. You are twenty-two years old, so you were a fresh face there representing young Lubbock, the next generation of great musicians. I'm glad to have this opportunity to get to know you better. First of all, tell me about your roots in Lubbock.
Andy: I was born and raised in Lubbock. My dad is a preacher and my mom is also in the ministry. My mom was born in Spokane, Washington, but my dad grew up in Lubbock and went to college here at Tech. His brother is Jim Eppler, who is a pretty popular artist here in West Texas and now all over the country._When I was growing up my parents worked at a church called Trinity, a big non-denominational church here in town, and now they work for a church called City View. We aren't hard-core Baptists or anything like that; I don't think I'd be here today if they were hard-core Baptists. I grew up in the church, playing worship music; and then I decided I actually wanted to make some money off my talent. I quit writing worship music and started writing what you would call secular music. My parents were very supportive of my playing music in the church. The older I got, the more I wanted to experiment with different types of songwriting, different sounds, and different ideas. I started realizing I could believe all the same things without feeling like I have to write in this tiny little box of church music. That was important for me, as an artist, to be able to branch out and write songs about bank robberies and stalkers and whatever other shit I write about now._Most of us up here in Lubbock have roots in the church. Kent Mings [of The Texas Belairs] was raised by his grandfather who was a preacher. Church is a pretty common theme through a lot of our lives. I am as Lubbock as you can get: my dad is a pastor and I've been playing music in bars for five or six years and still have not been noticed by much of anybody.
Chris: Now, you say you've been playing in bars for five or six years…You are only twenty-two years old.
Andy: Yeah, I started playing in bars when I was eighteen, and I started playing in coffee shops when I was sixteen. So when I was younger, I had the pleasure of having to sneak into my own gigs; that was just a real delight, to have the fear of being kicked out of your own gig and blackballed around town. But I couldn't play the songs I wanted to play in coffee shops. However, the way I dealt with the problem is that the instant I graduated from high school, I grew a beard by the next week. My family really has a handle on the trait for growing facial hair. I don't remember ever getting carded after that. Usually, they never even asked me how old I was when I booked the gig, because I looked twenty-four or so with the beard. One time, another guy who was opening for me and was the same age I was, he got carded and kicked out. He was good enough not to rat me out. I didn't take advantage by drinking because I wanted to have a good name around town. I wanted to be able to make two hundred dollars a night instead of just playing for tips in a coffee shop. _When people find out now that I am only twenty-two, they'll ask me about haven't I been playing in bars for years. And I reply, yeah, I guess I'm just a sneaky sumbitch.
Chris: What are the venues there in Lubbock which have been friendly to you?
Andy: Shooterz is not really typical of the type of places I usually play at but it is run really well and the people who work there are nice and cool. They've never screwed me over or taken advantage of me. On the rare occasion when something does happen, they always make it up to me. Another place is La Diosa, they've never done me wrong. But there are a couple of places in town where I absolutely will not play, and I am finally getting to the place where I can choose. If a place isn't run to where I can trust the management without making them sign a contract, then I won't play there. Fortunately, I do not play at places where I don't want to play, any more. But I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't started playing in bars when I was eighteen.
Chris: So you're telling me about working with the management at the venue as opposed to the clientele at the venues; that's a pretty mature position to take. Have any venues been good to you as far as building a fan base?
Andy: The only place where I have developed a real fan base is at a coffee shop called Sugar Brown's, and its all high school kids, like fourteen and fifteen years old. We have such a music culture in Lubbock, and a lot of the kids who really look up to musicians latched on to me and show up to every gig and pack the place. But that is the only place where I can really draw a crowd in Lubbock. _I can go to - Virtualubbock.com


Doug Haines and Andy Eppler speak out on originality

The snow is falling, and time seems to be slowing down as we progress into the semester, but life around us does not stop. In fact - it is the perfect time of the year to let creativity fester and prepare for summer festivities.

Two local artists who repeatedly have given back to the community scene - Andy Eppler, 22, and Doug Haines, 33, - earned themselves prestigious invitations to open up Lubbock's centennial celebrations this past weekend at the City Bank Coliseum onstage in front of thousands of Lubbock residents.

Now, through Myspace's "Artist on Artist" program, these two begin a project to inform us what it has been like to invest in Lubbock's culture over the years they've been here, and they hope to stir up an interest in the original artists this city has yet to discover.

It has been a long tedious journey for these friends, but it had to start somewhere.

Eppler: "I guess the first thing you want to start with is when you came to Lubbock."

Haines: "Well when I first came to Lubbock I wasn't a musician."

Eppler: "Really? I didn't know that."

Haines: "Yeah, I was a huge music fan. I came to town and saw bands like the Texas Belairs and John Sprott, but there weren't a lot of shows coming through town. I didn't start playing until a year almost and took a couple of lessons from someone I found flipping through a phone book. Back then, I was a lead player, and I didn't play rhythm at all, but I had to accept the fact that I would never be a great lead player. I was writing a lot, so I started playing around with chords and writing songs with them. So I was just playing around town until I had the pleasure of meeting you, young Andrew."

Eppler: "We met through a booking agent that another friend of ours, we'll call him "Sam," hooked us up with. The first time we met, I was playing at some place I probably shouldn't have been playing at."

Haines: "Ironically, it used to be a gay bar in town."

Eppler: "Icehouse!"

Haines: "Yeah the Texas Icehouse. It was a really funny place to see YOU for the first time."

Eppler: "I definitely didn't have four hours worth of stuff then."

Haines: "I remember you played 'C-Sharp Minor.'"

Eppler: "That song has been around since I was 16. There were about eight people total in the bar, and I was stoked 'cause it was my first time to get paid $200 to play. A guy from the bar had told me to start coming out to open mikes, and I started playing open mike nights at Bash Riprock's and got hooked up with this gig, so I had finally gotten my big break playing at an actual bar - that I had to sneak into because I was too young."
Haines: "I remember telling you to stick through the originals, but I know it's going to be harder. It's like going uphill the whole time, but I've always felt that it's the way to go."

Eppler: "I remember when you told me that, too. And when I was introduced to you it was like … and this is Dr. Skoob. He is God."

Haines: "Ha. I had people fooled."

Eppler: "Not too fooled. But I remember after that I would come out to one of your gigs every once in a while and you would come to mine. You were the only other person I knew at the time doing originals."

At this statement the realization that listening to Haines' advice was probably the best move Eppler could have made in his music career kicks in.

Sticking to each other's side and always supportive of each other's creativity; it is partially through both of their own flavors that Lubbock has developed its own unique taste these days.

Never giving into jumping on the cover-band bandwagon, both Haines and Eppler have influenced musicians and music lovers alike with their originality, giving a multitude of others around town someone to play for - even sharing band members such as Nic Schute on the trumpet or an occasional guest appearance from other friends.

I'm sure just as I do, both Eppler and Haines would have this to say: If you've got originals, the only way anyone is going to hear them is if you play them.
Chelsea Roe - Daily Toreador (Texas Tech) (Apr 3, 2008)

- Daily Toreador


Discography

Debut album: There is No Underground

Dark Places: a spoken word album

can be heard on college radio stations, alternative stations, and on internet radio across the US and Canada Available on iTunes, Napster, ect.

Photos

Bio

Andy Eppler is the face of songwriting for his generation. Born in West Texas and raised by two church ministers, Andy developed a love for music early on in his life. An inate Jazzy groove and the flavors of the West rose to the surface and gave Andy his sharply artistic sound. His music is captivating and heartfelt and always full of energy reminding listeners of greats such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and James Taylor.

His debut album "There is No Underground" met with high praise from critics and audiences alike. It is an instant classic for all fans of the well bent word.