Southern Backtones
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Southern Backtones

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Deep Fried"

"Deep-fried psychedelic blues rock ala Jim Morrison and the Doors slithers and wiggles aided by the hypnotically suggestive frontman Hank Schyma's come hither vocals. Haunting and cinematic
songs begging for a movie to live up to their promise. My picks: "Dirty," "They'll Never Come Between Our Love (Radio Edit)," "My Hell" and "Everything.""

- San Francisco Bay Times

"To Kill For"

"The Southern Backtones have songs and riffs that The Strokes and The Killers would kill for." -

"Exclaim! Canada's Music Authority"

"Alt-rock guitars, darkly poetic lyrics and a vocal style reminiscent of the mid-90s Britpop movement...the musicianship and songwriting on this effort are top notch. Highly recommended." -

With alt-rock guitars, darkly poetic lyrics and a vocal style reminiscent of the mid-’90s Britpop movement (only in a more American incarnation), Southern Backtones start off their seven-song, third album on a high note with “Forever.” Yet by the second track, “Little Ghost,” a slower, purposefully rougher track with equally dark lyrical content, they seem to have shed some of those influences and adopted others. While this fails for many bands, this Texas-based quartet does it so masterfully and subtly that it in turn becomes one of the album’s major strengths — to morph styles and influences, while keeping the roots beneath constant. This self-titled disc is an accomplishment as they successfully take those that obviously inspired them (the Doors, the Cult and David Bowie) and borrow here and there but ultimately make a sound of their own — one that surprisingly is best described in their press release as “Brit-influenced rock with roots firmly planted in Texas.” Not only is the musicianship and songwriting on this effort top notch, but the production and mix are equally clean and polished, making this album play much more like a major label release than an independent one. Packed to the brim with alternately jangling and rocking guitars, lush lead vocals by the group’s front-man that draw you right in to the stories they tell, and no filler cuts, there is little to dislike here. Highly recommended.

- Monica S. Kuebler

"Texas Bono"

"If U2 came from Texas and were weaned on the Cult's bug-guitar panoramas they would be called the Southern Backtones, and they would rock."


"Houston Chronicle"

"Southern Backtones is not Southern rock. It is a sea of expansive, dark rock with the unmistakable, vampy touch of David Bowie and the indigo mood of Echo & the Bunnymen."

Southern Backtones' name has been around since 1998, but the only remaining original member, frontman Hank Schyma, wants you to understand the band has evolved.
"There have been about three incarnations of the band, and we should have changed names several times, but the name had momentum. Now it sort of shoots us in the foot," he says, alluding to "southern."
Southern Backtones is not Southern rock, nor is it roots-rock. The band's newly-released, self-titled album makes that clear. It is a sea of expansive, dark rock with the unmistakable, vampy touch of David Bowie and the indigo mood of Echo & the Bunnymen.
Guitarist John Griffin says this release is "a little bit more experimental, a lot more psychedelic. We let go of the idea that we needed to play everything live. We've added pianos and string sections, which we can't really pull off live. The album's the movie; the live show is the stage play."
Case in point: Another Moment, which opens with a solo acoustic guitar, eventually spreads itself into a swirling string masterpiece.
Griffin joined the Backtones in 2002 after working as an engineer on one of the band's albums. Drummer Todd Sommer and bassist Dylan Bryson round out the group.
"John was in a band called Rowzero, and I loved the record they put out. I think we have a similar philosophy of songwriting and chords and hooks," Schyma says. Griffin's large collection of vintage gear also caught Schyma's eye.
"He's got all these these vintage guitars. It's like that Fleetwood Mac video where they're running through the desert, and there's all these guitars."
Griffin adds, "That comes from my engineer side. The right equipment can make a huge difference in your live show."
It's not just the music that makes a good live show. Schyma is a master of mystery with all that dark hair in his eyes and an admirable rock 'n' roll pout that gives the band a strong stage presence.
"I remember watching a J. Geils video when I was younger," Schyma says. "He wasn't a real handsome guy but the girls would just rush the stage, and I thought, 'that's what I want to do!' You can be ugly and girls still rush the stage!"
Though the band has enviable name recognition in the Houston area, its music garners more attention in the Northeast and Canada.
"We get more press now in a month than we did in the first five years we were together. Now that we're getting more airplay in the Northeast, we're going to be spending a lot more time up there. We'll be going to New York City in May and we'll stay there for a month, come back to Houston, turn around and go back for another month," Schyma says.
Griffin adds that the plan is to focus on the places that receive the Backtones' music with more zeal than Houston.
"There are so many great acts here, it's a shame that they aren't supported on the level that we'd all like," Griffin says.
After eight years on the Houston scene, Schyma is confident about his chances to make it big with this album.
"I think it will do great things for us. I'll be surprised if we don't get a record deal out of this," he says. "I'll also be very disappointed."
Griffin is more pragmatic.
"The record deal isn't the be-all, end-all anymore. It's nice to have that kind of money and that kind of organization behind you, that is what we're striving for, but you can distribute your music all over the world now without having a record deal."
Even if it doesn't happen for the Backtones this time around, there's little else Schyma and Griffin have no choice but to continue playing.
"If you have the passion for it, you're just sort of doomed to do it," Schyma says. "I wish I could be happy sitting at home on Sunday mowing the lawn and watching football, but I can't." - Sara Cress


"Excellent CD. Highest Recommendation" - The Scene Magazine

"Beautifully Dark"

"The only way this could get any beautifully darker is if it grew black wings and flew away." - Fort Worth Weekly


Los Tormentos de Amor (Debut Album)
The Formula (Second Album)
The Blue EP
Southern Backtones (Third Album)
Unreleased Studio Tracks EP (Fall 2010)
Honky Tonk Blood Soundtrack (2011)
La Vie En Noir (2012)

The first album is rare and available on Amazon or Ebay, usually at rather high prices which is a nice compliment. The more recent work is easy to find on most major online music stores.

Over the years we have received quite a bit of airplay usually peaking around the album releases but some tunes take on a life of their own and run in recurrent rotation here and there.

Many music streaming sites feature our work... just google.



Southern Backtones have achieved a global notoriety with an eclectic hybrid of sounds and art. Their award winning music and videos have been aired on MTV2, and CNBC, as well as a Levi's commercial and a University of Houston Basketball spot. Their songs are featured on several soundtracks including "Drop Dead Sexy" starring Crispin Glover and Jason Lee, "Honky Tonk Blood" Soundtrack and the Texas surf documentary "Aint No Surf in Texas." Successful radio campaigns have lead to spreading airplay over the entire United States, Mexico and Canada as well as overseas with hotspots in Germany and England.

No two Backtones shows are the same. The mood of the venue will determine the songs pulled from their deep bag of style and influence... One night may start with a groove of original music and end with wild versions of Rolling Stones, Elvis or Blondie songs. There may be trumpet, a violin, female back-up singers, or just the power trio making the appearance. Regardless of the line-up or the venue, the Backtones will get em swaying and rocking coast to coast, from LA to NYC.

The band borrows from the following greats... Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Blondie, The Doors, Pulp, the Ventures, The Misfits, Johnny Cash, David Bowie, and Chris Isaak.

“Cinematic songs begging for a movie to live up to their promise.” San Francisco Bay Times

“Brooding paeans to loves won, lost, and unrequited infused with smart, poppish melodies. The only way some of this stuff could get any beautifully darker is if it grew black wings and flew away.” Fort Worth Weekly

“Southern Backtones is not Southern rock. It is a sea of expansive, dark rock with the unmistakable, vampy touch of David Bowie and the indigo mood of Echo & the Bunnymen.” Houston Chonicle

“The musicianship and songwriting are top notch… Highly recommended.” (Canada)

“The songs are rich-sounding, well-crafted rockers with plenty of rootsy and modern influences. But the lyrics are provocative and thoughtful in surprising ways.”

“This moody, ethereal retro-tinged modern hard rock act (think U2, Nick Cave, The Cult) from Houston, seems primed for massive underground success.”

WINNERS: “Best Traditional Rock” 2006. Houston Press
WINNERS: “Best Traditional Rock” 2007. Houston Press
Nominated “Best Song-writer” 2008. Houston Press
WINNERS: “Best Local Band"
WINNERS: “Best Local Vocalist"

Southern Backtones have reinvented themselves with each of their CD’s:

2012: Southern Backtones 4th album "La Vie En Noir" which fuses the best parts of the prior three albums with the Backtones mature voodoo-rock sound into a delightful psychedelic, Spaghetti Western patois.

The third album, simply self-titled “Southern Backtones” (2007): A dark cinematic embracing of Brit-pop and psychedelia in a philosophical search for more bohemian influences. Songs “Forever” and “Everything” were featured in the indie feature film “Drop Dead Sexy” starring Jason Lee and Crispin Glover. Music Video “Forever” (produced by Zenfilm) has had international airplay on MTV2, MuchMusic Canada, CNBC and more.

The Formula (2002): A furious denial and overthrow of the pearl button, greaser-roots-rock heritage. Punk-ish songs of superficial lust gone wrong dove-tailed with South-of-the-border, Tex-Mex crooners.

“Los Tormentos de Amor” (1998): Clever surf-punk ditties played with precocious passion, all owing allegiance to a strong “whatever-a-billy” or “Spaghetti Western” influence. Quite the classic, the album has become an underground jewel and sells for upwards of one hundred bucks.