Bankrupt and the Borrowers
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Bankrupt and the Borrowers

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"Sound Off: Bankrupt and the Borrowers"

We would like to contend that Bankrupt and the Borrowers are the embodiment of an Austin band circa 2009: four guys holding down a house together on the east side, rockin’ out, breakin’ shit, reveling in their poverty, and making some damn good music. Three of the members moved to Austin in 2006 from Boston, and picked up drummer Osteo here in town to form the group, releasing their debut EP, Beers on the Bible, last year. Their sound is a rugged and cathartic blues, swampy roots rock with some interesting contemporary rock twists (like the Thom Yorke-ish “Dumpster” available for download below), bridging both a classic guitar onslaught with a modern roots sensibility. You can catch them at Red 7 this Friday, April 10, along with Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5 and Voodoo Organist. - www.austinsound.com (Austin Sound)


"9 To Watch in 2009: #5, Bankrupt and the Borrowers"

The members of Bankrupt and the Borrowers slouch around the living room of the house they rent together off East Cameron Road. They laugh at a recent message posted on their MySpace page by a “fan.” “He said our attire was out of fashion, our lead singer could be more charismatic in front of the camera and that flannel was out and we should start wearing hoodies,” says guitarist Baggage. “But it’s bull because it’s cold outside.” Baggage and his three accomplices, who also go by nicknames—Deadweight, Cadger and Osteo (they refuse to reveal their real names)—and regularly swap vocal and instrumental duties, converged on Austin in 2006 and formed Bankrupt. “It was like we got married in Vegas
and then got to know each other,” Baggage says. The band’s Web site recounts its genesis:
“Originally from the Northeast, Cadger, Baggage and Deadweight trekked across the country in
a mostly disastrous and largely worthless tour of open mics, house parties and empty bars.” But during their two years in Austin,
they’ve already played Antone’s, the Mohawk and South by Southwest and made two television appearances on KTBC Fox 7 News (prompting that message from a lessthan-doting viewer). They released their debut EP, Beers on the Bible, last summer and are gearing up for a U.S. tour.
“We’re pretty psyched,” says Cadger. “We’ll be playing to all our friends and family in the Northeast, and then we’ll tackle the East Coast in the summer and West
Coast in the fall.” Bankrupt’s music is difficult to pigeonhole, which isn’t a bad thing. On “Home,” Deadweight sounds like a young Eddie Vedder. Cadger takes over vocals on “I Love You Baby,” a mournful, angry lament to lost love (sample lyric: “drowning in your
twisted tears“). “Dumpster” spotlights Baggage’s vocals on its catchy melody. That sound has garnered Bankrupt some good online reviews. Austin music blogger
Ajay Miranda (nitesatx.blogspot.com) writes, “There’s a depth of soul and warmhearted sincerity behind the Borrowers,” while a Portland writer says the boys’ sound is “reminiscent of jazzy, old country blues and that city sweat that comes after a hard day at work and a long walk home.” The band describes itself as a “dirty crew of vagrants and scoundrels.” Baggage says he quit his job and is now “just sitting ‘round playing music with the Borrowers.” But you
get the impression that the starving-artist image is what Bankrupt is all about. Communal
living, standing on the bread line, playing music: That’s what makes this band tick. But if they continue on their current path, the guys won’t be living on bread and beer for long. - Alex Hannaford (Austin Monthly Magazine)


"Bankrupt and the Borrowers"

As a journalist I'm a sucker for a good story, and Bankrupt and the Borrowers have the best story in town (click and scroll down to Dec 4, 2006: Worthless Wrap-up)... a ragtag crew of drunkards and gamblers from New England packed into a van with their instruments and their hopes, and not much else. The tour/exodus started in Boston. They made their way down to New York and D.C. before trekking through the Rust Belt, Midwest, and into the Pacific Northwest in a series of absurd and depressing shows that seemed to get progressively more disastrous the farther west they got. They drove down the Bay Area, into L.A., and finally east through the desert, arriving in Austin broke and alone on Thanksgiving (eating a Turkey Day dinner at the Dirty Dog on Sixth Street). That was in 2006.

The lineup has gone through a few changes in the two years since the Borrowers arrived in town, but the core group of singer/songwriters remains: Deadweight, Baggage, and Cadge. Any of them could carry a band as a lead singer, which is what makes the Borrowers special: a uniquely strong and diverse vocal attack, from Cadge's raspy guttural snarl reminiscent of an old blues singer to Baggage's husky Southern-rock croon to Deadweight's soothing song that can turn into a grating scream in the same breath. Their lyrics tread familiar territory but never sound cliche or stale: drinking songs, gambling songs, anti-war songs, and songs about getting your heart broken. If you can't relate to that, I don't know what to tell you. The themes are universal, but the lyrics (stories in many cases) are fresh and interesting. There's a depth of soul and warm-hearted sincerity behind the Borrowers that somehow makes a song about getting coked up and drunk with a Mexican hooker a glorious celebration of the flawed but well-meaning human condition, rather than the potential garbage it would be in the hands of a lesser band (see: the cleverly titled "Holden Caulfield at Age 35"). When Cadge says he's fuckin' fine to the female antagonist of "I Love You Baby", we know he probably isn't. But he says it, because that's what we do when we find ourselves heartbroken and in the gutter. We tell ourselves we're fine and we keep fighting, keep pushing on, keep looking for strength or some kind of solace (even if sometimes fueled by "recreational" substances) because we know that some day we will be. Every day that you wake up facedown on a bathroom floor, you have that split-second glow of recognition that, hey, you woke up. And you know: Some day, I will be fuckin' fine. - Ajay Miranda (www.nitesblog.com)


"Indie Bands to Watch at SXSW: Bankrupt and the Borrowers"

While thousands of trendy indie bands will barrage Austin next week with tunes lighter than their hipster bodies and music made by machines, local band Bankrupt and the Borrowers will continue the truly rock tradition of making music from the bowels of society.

Currently living off cigarettes and cheap beer in a ramshackle house on the east side, Bankrupt and the Borrowers live for the music they make.

The band formed when three longtime friends, Cadger, Deadweight and Baggage, went on an acid trip in Deadweight’s parents’ basement. After hours of moaning and groaning to the riffs that flowed from the fingertips of these three disparate musicians, Bankrupt and the Borrowers emerged with the bulk of what would become their debut EP, Beers on the Bible.

“We had to go back and put some real lyrics to most of [the songs],” Cadger said. “But that one session is where most of the songs came from.”

And “real lyrics” is the best term for categorizing the lyrical dimension of Bankrupt’s music. With songs that are at once intellectual and as ridden with emotional strife as they are with illustrations of their vagrant lifestyles, Bankrupt and the Borrowers succeed in writing music in the style of genuine realism.

The music emanating from behind Bankrupt’s lyrics is equally gratifying. After relocating to Austin from Boston in 2006, the band found drummer Osteo and began solidifying its sound. Pulling vocal aesthetics from blues and classic rock, backbeats from punk and powerful, math-rock style guitar shredding, Bankrupt’s music has something for a rock fan from any subculture to latch onto.

“We have three lead singers,” Baggage said. “And we were all front men of other bands before this one. So we all have from different backgrounds.”

If you can picture what the bastard stepchild of a bar brawl and a Boy Scout campfire sing-along would look like, that vision would be pretty close to the reality of a Bankrupt performance.

But, imagine that the bar brawlers were filled with the fury of desperation rather than anger and the Boy Scouts were festooned in sweat and booze rather than starched khakis and patches honoring their good deeds.

After three years in Austin, playing just about every venue in the city, Bankrupt has garnered quite a following of die-hard fans. In 2009, the band is looking to spread its music with a national tour scheduled for this summer. But before Bankrupt and the Borrowers hit the interstate, they’re staying in Austin long enough to christen SXSW with their drunken cheer, like a deranged Pan after over-imbibing Miller High Life. - Mary Lingwall (Daily Texan)


"SXSW Blog"

After a much needed break at one of the coffee shops near by, I then walked to Plush to see Bankrupt and the Borrowers. This was another intimate show because Plush doesn’t have a stage so the band is on the ground with the crowd. I don’t know what time the bands and the fans started drinking but the energy in that place was unbelievable.

The band was recently in Austin Monthly as one of the "9 bands to watch in ’09" and as my second time seeing them, I can see why. It’s refreshing to hear music that isn’t generic or stereotypical of what is currently on the radio. I can’t even describe it, you just have to see a show for yourself. - Sarah Vasquez (Accent)


"It's go time for Austin-based Bankrupt and the Borrowers"



Deadweight, Baggage, and Cadger — the three scroungy characters who originally formed Bankrupt and the Borrowers in a northeast Massachusetts town of Westford — started out as a New England garage band making boozy, punky blues-rock. Nearly three years ago, they pulled up sticks for Austin, Texas, to pursue a career in creating the most elegant beer-fueled anthems they could muster.

"No full names. Just one name, that's it," says Cadger, speaking from the band's van last week on their peculiar one-word monikers. The Borrowers were en route to Baton Rouge for another gig behind the seven-song album Beer on the Bible. "We like to keep it simple. Each of us sings lead on different songs, and me and Deadweight trade off on guitar and bass."

While Baggage and Deadweight grew up in Westford, Cadger came up in a nearby town in Connecticut. "We first got together in Deadweight's parents' basement," remembers Cadger. "We started the band really quickly, wrote a bunch of songs all fucked up one weekend, and then turned them into real songs. Deadweight started living in New York, so that's where we hooked up to practice and play shows."

The band kind of shrugs off the move from the Northeast to the Lone Star State as a low-key trek across the country "in a mostly disastrous, and largely worthless, tour of open mics, house parties, and empty bars" where they arrived in Austin "sleeping in their van and eating Thanksgiving dinner at the Dirty Dog Saloon."

Deadweight admits he was lured to the capitol city's blues-heavy band scene. "We were trying to think of a new place to go, and Austin seemed like a good option. I thought it would go for our sound," he says. "I walked down Sixth Street, and I was excited to see all these blues bands playing and all this music going on all over the place. But there's definitely not an Austin sound right now."

Other than being shitty-broke in a shitty economy, the funny-but-bleak tone of the band name has as much to do with the style trad-cool rock band names.

"Before we started entering into this national recession, all of us were already broke," laughs Deadweight. "We had been broke for quite some time, so we found it to be an amusing and appropriate name. Plus, I always liked the idea of band names like Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears or Eddie & The Cruisers — I like that whole idea."

Much of Beer on the Bible sounds like four drinking buddies having a killer band practice, but there's more to the music than sloppy fun and buzzed-up riffs. Highlights include the wha-wha trombone and trumpet in the slumpy but swingin' "Old New York," slow-staggering "Sweetheart," the raspy redneck lament in "Jodi" (the closest they get to emulating the Drive-By Truckers). While the minor-key guitar oscillation and arpeggiation matches the Thom York-style singing on the unexpectedly magnificent "Dumpster," the shouting and carryin-on on the trashy "Holy Roller" resembles the distorted-guitar rambunctiousness of early Replacements and Black Flag records.

Closing number "I Love You Baby" — an anguished hangover plea for redemption and relief in lumbering 6/8 time — features Cadger screeching, "Now honey, I'm begging you please ... I've been searching now for 10 years for God and truth/Now I'm droning in your twisted tears, lyin' wounded on Fatalism Avenue." Have mercy, y'all.

"I think we'd all like to get to a point where we can continue to tour around, make music, and make a living off it," says Deadweight. "I don't think any of us are interested in the wild fame route, where you're loaded with cash and start acting like assholes or anything like that."
- T. Ballard Lesemann (Charleston City Paper)


Discography

"Beers on the Bible EP" 2008

Photos

Bio

Bankrupt and the Borrowers are a dirty crew of vagrants and scoundrels, and, as such, they come from a long line of decadent tradition and pain. They are, as their name eludes . . . poor.

Lucky for music, financial status says nothing for musical talent.

Originally from the Northeast, Cadger, Baggage and Deadweight trekked across the
country in a mostly disastrous, and largely worthless, tour of open mics, house parties, and empty bars.

In 2006 they arrived in Austin sleeping in their van and eating Thanksgiving at the Dirty Dog Saloon.

After rounding up a following of similar-minded derelicts, the Austin music community took note, earning Bankrupt and the Borrowers such significant gigs as the legendary Antone's Nightclub, Mohawk and Fun Fun Fun Fest as well as sharing the stage with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Pinetop Perkins, the Riverboat Gamblers and the Murder City Devils. In actuality, the Antone's show in February of 2008 with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears was a turning point for the band and the marriage of The Versatile Syndicate
production, booking and management company with "The Borrowers".

Since then they have been featured on the Fox News morning show twice. In the summer of 2008 the Borrowers released their first EP, Beers on the Bible. They continue to tour Nationally and in their homebase of the Austin, TX community throughout 2009 to support their EP and have plans to release another EP before March of 2010.

Honing his bluesy guitar riffs while at college in Boston, Cadge hooked up with the indie-inspired stylings of Deadweight, fresh back from thumbing his way across the country, and they decided to be poor together. They incorporated Baggage's horns and misery over acid lunch. After filtering through a series of drummers, they came to find Osteo, a
veteran of the Austin punk rock scene. Osteo brings an aggressive but tasteful backbeat, further dirtying the Bankrupt sound.

Together for over three years to date, the Borrowers have been working hard and playing as much as possible to anybody that will listen.