Fluffers Union
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Fluffers Union

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Fluffers Union Makes its Musical Mark"

San Marcos, Texas-based Fluffers Union is set to find their way to Athens’ Union this weekend. Their recent release of “sirens Disco” came as a surprise to me (having only heard of the band’ less-than memorable name and not at all of their music).

The 10-track CD is as diverse in its overall sound as it is in use of the hand’s talents from on e song to the next. Displaying a broad spectrum from silliness to poignancy, from impressive vocal layering to a solid (though less interesting) instrumental piece, “Sirens Disco” is a quality recording of quirky tracks that are pretty much in the pop rock vein.

“I AM/FM” is the CD’s catchiest and most inventive track. A standout highlight, the song reveals Fluffers Union’s grasp of innovative melody lines and precise musicianship. Although such sensibilities are less apparent throughout portions of “Sirens Disco,” this is a solid album for listeners with a taste for pop music that’s laced with a variety of detectable influences, ranging from a sort of processed country/folk to borderline punk.

“Beautiful Mess” is the disc’s next best example of incorporation lyrical intrigue and satisfying melodies without sacrificing the band’s obvious efforts to remain original. Together since 1998, Fluffers Union’s experience together shows in their work on “Sirens Disco.”

Made up of Jeremiah Clifton, Bryan Crowell, Collin Downs, Matt Harber, Cody Richardson, and Derek Starkey, Fluffers Union makes good use of all those bodies. At its best, this is a band with more than catchiness to offer. The attention-grabbing uniqueness with which Fluffers Union approaches most of their songs’ arrangement, couple with their crisp, distinctive vocals, makes this a band worth checking out.

Crowell, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, called Fluffers Union’s music “poppy, only because it’s hookie.” He said the group has a sort of throwback appeal to listeners who appreciate some pop music sensibilities from recent history.

“Crowell said his work includes overtones of his upbringing on a farm in Texas Panhandle.

I’ve had to make a conscious effort not to write too many songs about girls being insane and about being extraordinarily broke and finding ways to get drunk,” he said.

According to Crowell, Fluffers Union attributes its longevity to the fact that everyone in the band gets along so well, having known each other prior to the band’s formation.

“We’re not the most fantastic musicians, as far as players, but we’re all really good friends,” he said. “we all work really hard and find a way to pull it off live.”

In their first performance not of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Fluffers Union plays Saturday night at The Union. Information on the Band can be found at fluffersunion.com

Week of Sept. 10 –The Athens Insider
- Athens Insider


"Fluffers Union - Sirens Disco Review"

Sirens Disco (Chocolate Johnson) By their very nature, roots are twisted. This is especially true in Austin, where Li'l Cap'n Travis' stoned grandeur can't quite cover up their Seventies singer-songwriter sensibilities, Okkervil River's anaerobic bluegrass barely keeps the demons at bay, and the Gourds just want to get drunk and debate H.L. Mencken. Crashing the party is this cheeky bunch of San Marcos reprobates who think nothing of splicing out-of-nowhere banjo rolls into math-rock riffs. By all rights, Sirens Disco should send people screaming from the room: The puns are atrocious (sample song titles: "Rock-a-Bye Baby Seals," "Tennesseeyanaked Waltz"); "Soundchicken" is spoken instead of sung; and, well, "Instrumenstrual" tells you pretty much everything you need to know about that. But it works. It works because it's tight and loose at the same time, owing as much to Centro-matic as Camper Van Beethoven, and because when they play it straight -- as on the Son Volt-ish "Burn Baby Burn" and "Beautiful Mess" -- the results are both savory and poignant. It also works because on the sixth or seventh listen, the lyrics actually start to make sense (just don't let the singer anywhere near your daughter). But most of all, it works because it sounds like nothing else out there right now, and it still rocks. "Beautiful Mess" is right.

Christopher Gray - The Austin Chronicle
- The Austin Chronicle


"Fluffers Union: Adult Texan Rock is Hard"

They’re strictly for adults, but that doesn’t mean they’re mature. The manly men of Fluffers Union have a rigid way about the shared aim—and if you don’t get the innuendo with these guys, then you’re the type of person who really does buy the magazine for the articles.

Together since 1998, Fluffers Union likes to offer a taste of everything in the close-fit little musical outfit, from country to pop to silence. And they’re not shy about pointing the fruitcake rock all over the place; they regularly tour throughout the Midwest. But when they’re back at home, they live in one house in San Marcos, Texas. Their online bio lays out an almost indecent spread about their mutual quarters, the essence of their “musical cornucopia” utopia, and penetrates the core of their unified philosophy.

The Fluffers Union living room “is a testament to their belief in the indie-rock reasoning that roots can only take hold under a compost pile of beer cans, broken instruments, utility disconnect notices and letters from probation officers,” reads a page on FluffersUnion.com.

Fluffers Union will play Thursday, September 18 at the Hangar 9 with Ghostshirt (with Chris Lee from Plaza Records and Nate Blache from Cruces), an equally mellow band, sort of adult-contemporary stuff few people will admit they like. (But whether or not people talk about in public, everybody knows they like it as much as anyone else.) Fluffers Union will play selections from their first full-length CD, Sirens Disco, which isn’t disco, and from Segway, what they call their concept EP.

The following interview questions were directed to the entire group but answered by only two members, Bryan and Derek, because, as they put it, “ The rest of the band is passed out, recovering from a stripper-induced hangover contract at last night’s bachelor party for the sixth Fluffers, Matthew.”


Of the disasters your website homepage lists, “cancer, county jails, people falling out of moving vehicles, flat tires, Jagermeister, women,” can you discuss in more detail the worst ones you’ve survived?

BRYAN: Well, cancer’s about as sucky as you can get. Last time we had a show booked in Carbondale, we had to cancel because Jeremiah got cancered. You really don’t want to know the details on that one except for the fact that he’s a better now and that for some reason there was some extremely impressive mullets at the hospital where he was treated. My favorite was the guy with blond hair to mid-back that on top was a perfect black spike. It was art.

DEREK: I fell out of a car on my 27th birthday. It really wasn’t moving. It was in the parking lot at the bar (the Triple Crown in San Marcos, TX). I had to play with a cast on my hand for a month or so. It was a black cast.

BRYAN: One time, while I was awaiting the release of a to be unnamed bandmate, I spent 4 hours talking to a cop in the lobby of the downtown jail in Austin about how you have to peal the asphalt off of your sunburnt face after a fulfilling day of live NASCAR spectatoring.


Is it true Fluffers Union has to stay on tour because the cops are after most your members?

DEREK: Actually, it’s not the cops at the moment. They usually don’t have much trouble being around when we’re looking for a free meal and a place to get out of the cold. For the moment it’s collection agencies, loan officers and hospital billing departments.


How is the Fluffers Union cover of Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young” coming along?

BRYAN: We haven’t been able to match the brilliance of the original recording. We gave up and decided to learn Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work.” Did you know that Steely Dan was named after a huge dildo from [William] Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch”? That’s one of those “obscure references with sexual connotations” band names. I like that.


Derek, you went to SIU, right? Did you know any of your current bandmates from your college days here? What made you move to Austin, and when?

DEREK: Yeah, I went to school at SIU in the early/mid nineties, but I didn’t meet these fools ‘till I got to Texas. I moved to Austin because I had a mint’s worth of late fees at the Blockbuster in Carbondale.
BRYAN: He’s our token Yankee. Every band needs one.


Have y’all ever played with the now-defunct Austin-based band (from Carbondale), Zulu As Kono or Brown Whörnet (some of the same guys)?

DEREK: They play at the same bar in San Marcos that five out of six of us work at.

BRYAN: The lead singer likes to wear plaid, I think.


You say your sound is a “musical cornucopia with influences ranging from rock and country to punk and folk to pop to noise to silence,” but honestly, is just sounds like some pretty laid-back country to me. Even the would-be screaming sounds a bit muffled. Please explain the many labels with which you categorize your jingles.

BRYAN: Country? Jingles? Flea infested taco stands? I think this is one of those reporter questions when they ask you to explain yourself and even if you sound exactly like Weezer you tell them you’re influenced by obscure eighties bongo music.


Hey, I got the presskit for free, so I was wondering if I should still “feel free to feel [as] hosed,” according to your website’s merchandise disclaimer, as someone who actually shelled out real clams for a half-hour of Fluffers Union?

DEREK: Come to the show. I will hose you.


Anything else to add, suggest, recommend, warn, etc.?

BRYAN: We’re from Texas. We have accents that we wish you to find quaint and adorable. George W. is actually from Connecticut.

who: Fluffers Union
what: indie rock
where: Hangar 9
when: Thursday, Septermber 18 w/Ghostshirt


NIGHTLIFE September 11 – September 17, 2003
- Carbondale Nightlife


"Fluffers Union Saturday at JR’s"

Fluffers Union Saturday at JR’s

So what can we tell you about Fluffers Union? Well, they’ve got some cool stickers and nasty merch for sale and they’re rising through the ranks of the Texas music scene to become a hot commodity in the Lone Star State. They’re a guitar heavy group—Bryan Crowell plays guitar, piano and vocals and is joined by Cody Richardson on guitar and vocals, Derek Starkey on slide and rhythm, Matt Harber on pedal steel, Collin Downs on bass and Jeremiah Clifton on drums. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Jay Bennett, Edward Burch and that fireHose guy Mike Watt. Beyond that, we had a note from Bryan Crowell, so we thought we’d run it instead of trying to describe what you’re in for. After all, it’s not often we get personal notes from the musicians traveling through town, so here you go.

“Last time we played JR’s we had quite a bit of fun. The show was supposed to be the second to last stop on a Midwest tour but ended up being the only show on a Fayetteville tour. Fayetteville is about 12 hours from San Marcos, Texas where we hail from, but since JR’s was nice enough to have us, we figured it would be rude to cancel. Being the last show on a tour, it’s generally customary for a band to let loose and have a swinging time, even though that’s generally what we do for any show.

The band that we opened for was one of those Toolsy types and the entire crowd was there to see them. After we got off stage to a fairly weak response, our band sat at the bar and finished two bottles of Jagermeister while watching the other band play their set. Also, I recall, The Next Karate Kid was on the TV. That’s the one with the girl and Mr. Miyagi teaching her how to pound the shit out of 29-year-old men who are supposedly in high school. At the end of the night, the guitar player for the other band came up and said in one breath, ‘Hey you guys rocked, you really know how to party, can you tell your guitar players to stop scaring our girlfriends.’”

Get out and give ’em a welcome. You’ll be glad you did.

Fayetteville Free Weekly – September 18, 2003
- Fayetteville Free Weekly


Discography

Sirens Disco - LP - 2002

Segway - EP - 2003

Several tracks have recieved airplay on several stations in various places in the country.

The songs I AM/FM, Voices in My Head, Beautiful Mess, Farm Boy, Hungarian Death March and Give Me Drugs (amoung others) have recieved airplay on stations including but not limited to...

89.9 KTSW (San Marcos, TX)
90.5 KUT (Austin, TX)
91.7 KVRX (Austin, TX)
91.1 KWTS (Canyon, TX)
91.3 WCRD (Muncie, IN)
107.7 WRAX (Birmingham, AL)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Formed in 1998 in the small college town of San Marcos, located just south of Austin, Texas, Fluffers Union plays its own unique brand of unclassifiable pop music without regard for established musical molds. While still embracing their small town Texas roots, they draw from influences ranging from the Dead Kennedys to Don Williams, the Pixies to Richard Rodgers, Sonic Youth to Chopin; creating a unique and eclectic experience. Of their first album, Sirens Disco, the Austin Chronicle’s Christopher Gray remarked, “Their music works because it sounds like nothing else out there right now, and it still rocks. ‘Beautiful Mess’ is right,” referring to a track off of the 2002-released album.

Bandleader Bryan Crowell’s unique voice soars and scratches like a classically trained folk singer two packs into the day, as he hammers out rich piano melodies and succinct guitar phrases. Cody Richardson’s twangy telecaster mixes Buck Owens with Frank Zappa while Derek Starkey’s steady rhythm and Collin Downs’ ever energizing bass presence lay on top of Spenser Swietek’s powerful drumming. The well-constructed, lyrically smart epics take listeners on a roller coaster ride, equipped with the smooth stretches, the climbs, the jerks to the head and the feeling of wanting to do it again, all mixed up with the sadness of watching it happen without you while you wait in line for your turn.

Through thoroughly planned melodies, mathematical time changes, and witty turns of phrase, Crowell illustrates what it means to be heading in several directions at the same time, yet always ending up in the same place. What could be chaotic or angular is held together and smoothed out by the arrangements, which are as elegant as they are jarring, as dynamic as they are poetic, and as intelligent as they are irreverent, making Fluffers Union cohesive against all odds, by sheer will and determination along with the help of a cement mixer load of musical talent.

Fluffers Union followed their promising debut album with a 2004 EP release titled Segway, which features four eclectic full-length songs interspersed with a potato sack’s worth of short commercials that Crowell wrote for local Austin ad studio Tequila Mockingbird.

The band continues to tour, frequently visiting avid fan bases on the indie circuit, sharing the stage with national acts such as Jay Bennett (ex of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco) & Edward Burch, Jason Loewenstein of Sebadoh fame, Texas favorites and Misra Records recording artists Centro-matic, Mike Watt (formally of the Minutemen and fireHose), and a plethora of local and touring bands such as The High Strung, The Spiders and Bishop Allen.

Fluffers Union is gearing up to record their newest CD, a musical concept album of sorts, invoking the not yet established genre of the un-performed indie rock musical. The CD will be released in late 2005.