Southern Backtones
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Southern Backtones

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"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 Chronicle)

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

"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."(Exclaim! Canada's Music Authority)

"Smacks of mass appeal!" (Houston Press)

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

"A must see of local music." (Daily Cougar)

"Rich sounding well crafted rockers." (

"The Southern Backtones have songs that the Killers and Strokes would kill for." (

"Excellent CD! Highest recommendation." (The Scene Magazine) - various

"Backtones on 103 radio stations"

103 Radio Stations Playing the Backtones!

103 college radio stations are currently REPORTING significant to heavy rotation of the new CD. Eight new stations picked up the CD this week putting the Backtones over the century mark... Thanx to all the DJ's who play our music, You guys are making this happen... Especially at KABF Little Rock AR, KFKX Hastings NE, KIDE Hoopa CA, KRTU San Antonio TX, KWAR Waverly IA, WMHB Waterville ME, KLSU Baton Rouge LA, KSAU Nacogdoches TX, KTSW San Marcos TX, KUMD Duluth MN, and KLBC in Long Beach CA.

"Backtones Reach #1"

Current radio tracking reports show that Southern Backtones reached #1 at KWAR in Waverly Iowa. Triple-dipple thanks go out to the entire KWAR crew!

Catch the Southern Backtones in Waverly live on campus September 9th! - Waverly Iowa

"Backtones in the MOVIES!!!"

This just in... Two SOUTHERN BACKTONES songs, "Forever" and "Everything," were chosen to be part of the soundtrack for the Indie film/Dark Comedy "DROP DEAD SEXY"!!!!

The film, starring Jason Lee (Dogma, Mallrats,Chasing Amy) and Crispin Glover (Charlies Angels, The Doors, Wild at Heart, Back to the Future), will premier in Austin, Texas at SxSW Film Festival on March 12th. Several of the bands on the soundtrack will also be performing after the screening including the Southern Backtones. - "Drop Dead Sexy"

"ASCAP features Southern Backtones"

ASCAP has chosen the Southern Backtones for feature in their prestigious Audio Portrait series. The most talked about and heavily trafficked area of the ASCAP website highlights songwriters giving insight behind the music. Listen to lead vocalist Hank Schyma discuss the songs that make up their definitive self-titled release. (Real Player required - to download a free Real Player go to

"Southern Backtones get Sexy on new DVD"

October 03, 2006

The Southern Backtones have gone Hollywood -- by way of Austin. Well, sort of.
Two of the group's songs, Forever and Everything, are featured in the flick Drop Dead Sexy. It was filmed in 2004 in Austin, screened at the SXSW Film Festival and recently debuted on DVD.

Both tracks are available on the group's self-titled 2006 disc.
Drop Dead Sexy is a dark comedy starring Jason Lee (he of My Name is Earl and a slew of Kevin Smith films) and Crispin Glover (he of several Back to the Future flicks). It follows the duo as they struggle to get out of a small Texas town by any means necessary, which includes smuggling contraband cigarettes across the border and digging up a deceased trophy wife for her diamond necklace.

The Southern Backtones' next gig is an opening slot for the Concrete Rose Cabaret burlesque show.
Details: 9:30 p.m. Oct. 13. 1415 Bar and Grill, 1415 California. 713-522-7066. - Houston Chronicle

"FEATURE: The Backtones are more rock 'n' roll than Southern"

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."
- Houston Chronicle

"FEATURE: Southern Backtones has love affair with Baton Rouge"

While the Southern Backtones are not technically a local band, you would think that they were if you heard the nostalgic ramblings of frontman, Hank Schyma, in regards to our fair city.

And why shouldn’t Schyma love this city, the Houston-based band plays here once a month at Red Star Bar.

“On tour, more times than not we find ourselves on inappropriate bills attempting to win over loyal metal or die-hard country fans that are not familiar with our style of music; however, at the Red Star Bar we are welcomed to a jukebox singing the Dandy Warhols, Franz Ferdinand, and the Gorillaz...The same artists in our CD player.”

When I first met Schyma, before the mention of an article was ever in play, nearly an entire evening of bar hopping was devoted to discussion on the Baton Rouge Music scene. If you think he was blowing smoke, then think again as he recently cited Baton Rouge as one of his favorite towns to perform in during a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle.

“Whether it’s to 500 people at the Varsity Theater or 50 at the Red Star Bar, people are excited for, support, and love the variety of live music,” Schyma said. “There’s an overwhelming appreciation for indie music, the food is good, the venues are hip... Baton Rouge just fits us like a favorite pair of jeans.”

But probably what drove the nail in the coffin of BR love for Schyma was a play by our very own KLSU.

“Last time we were in town we heard ourselves on KLSU immediately followed by my favorite band Pulp. To this day, that’s the only time I’ve ever heard Pulp on the radio,” Schyma said.

As far as their history, the Southern Backtones formed in 1998 as a “rootsy/punk hybrid.” They have since evolved into a more modern sound. With lyrics such as “Your clothes belong to shaggy floors,” (“Dirty”), pounded out by Schyma’s almost hypnotic voice and backed by the tightly executed accompaniment, it’s no choir to visualize this band having a lasting career.

Members of Southern Backtones include Hank Schyma (guitar and lead vocals), John Griffin (guitar and backing vocals), Dylan Bryson (bass and backing vocals), and Todd Sommer (drums).

Griffin joined the Backtones in 2002 from the band Row Zero after serving as the engineer for the Backtones second record, The Formula. As a songwriter, Griffin and Schyma meshed well, so the addition made for a smooth transition.

Drummer Todd Sommer also jumped on board in 2002 to replace the former drummer, Mike Blattel, when he joined the successful jazz group, Drop Trio. Schyma said that Sommer’s brought with him “an entire new philosophy of percussion.”

Bassist Dylan Bryson is the newest addition to the group. Schyma met him last year at a Houston bar. Schyma said that it took two months of “swooning,” to finally bring him over to the Backtones side.

“Everyone brings a different background and influences to the band, however, we all seem to come together around a more psychedelic rock origin,” said Schyma.

If you’re a fan of bands such as Portishead, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Doors, BRMC and the Dandy Warhols, then you’ll be happy to know that these are some of their primary influences.

Schyma also noted that there are some “hints of punk ala the Misfits and Agent Orange over-toned with European rock ie Pulp, Suede, air, Franz Ferdinand, David Bowie, Gorillaz, Love and Rockets and the Cult.” And that “tucked under it all is hints of Americana and Roots... Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley, Dick Dale, and Chris Isaak.”

The band's success has been long coming, but is truly seeing some rise in status.

“Our third record [self-titled] started taking off prior to it’s completion,” said Schyma. “The LP was released in February of 2006 and has already managed to fill the airways of over 100 reporting college radio stations throughout the USA and Canada.”

But that’s not all.

“Two songs were added to the soundtrack for the movie ‘Drop Dead Sexy’ starring Jason Lee and Crispin Glover, to be released in 2007 and each week yields more and more press,” Schyma said.

As far as the future is concerned, it seems that nothing will sway this group from the path to music glory.

“I see ourselves grinding away at the music scene as long as our money and health allows,” Schyma said. “When you love something as much as we do, you’re just doomed to do it regardless of how it rips you apart. I’m poor, tired, hungry and sore from sleeping in strange places, however, we continue playing our music and chasing a dream. We’re either gonna bust this thing wide open or go down hard with guns blazin’.”
- Independent Tiger Weekly

"Review: Southern Backtones"

"Forever" was the track that caught my ear and put me onto the band. There's a very 80's and 90's independent feel to it, with a sound not too dissimilar to Echo and the Bunny Men or Psychedelic Furs. In fact some of the songs could almost have come straight from that classic vampire film, The Lost Boys. It was no surprise when I found, that is the track that opens the album, but it's in no way a lost leader.

The album, as a whole, has a very dirty sound. I'm not talking bad production, just a sort of dark, almost gothic vibe. It must be so hard for many bands to find their own voice. With so much competition it's hard not to blend into the background and the Southern Backtones manage to avoid this very well.

There are 13 tracks on the album, including a remix that makes an appearance before the original version of the track, which is fairly unusual, as most remixes appear at the end of the album, if at all. One particular favorite track of mine is "Another Moment", a real mellow track, with some great acoustic guitar, opening up at times, with some very Beatlesque accompaniment. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of the track "Little Ghost", which is surprising, as it has a very Nick Cave feel to it. "Lanugo" is a pretty rambling 2 minute track, with some really interesting production, which had it been any longer would have been strangely hypnotic. The album rounds itself off very nicely with "Glamorous", with that Beatles production surfacing again.

Conclusion : With flashes of the Beatles, Echo and the Bunny Men and INXS to name but a few, this is certainly an interesting flavor of album. I can imagine this being an excellent band to see live. Great stuff. – Colin Meeks
- Indie Launchpad


Southern Backtones Self-titled
Southern Backtones EP



The Southern Backtones offer up a modern rock synthesis of Brit-pop and psychedelia with their latest self-titled release.

A darker, more bohemian influence than prior efforts, Southern Backtones, an expansion on the band's 2004 EP of the same name, is a third album of music-noir: art-film lyrics with major motion picture sonic imagery.

An exciting blend of raw brit-influence with roots planted firmly in Texas - this is not your typical indie rock. A constant exercise in metamorphosis has created an enigmatic southwestern feel reminiscent of Morrison and The Doors with an edge akin to early eighties brit-rock powerhouses a la The Cult and David Bowie.

The parts - Hank Schyma, vocals/guitar; John Griffin, bass; and Todd Sommer, drums - create a sum of lyrical and musical intensity in an era recently devoid of any wit or inventiveness.

Schyma's dark confessionals are backed by the band's solid mesmeric production and, like few of their contemporaries, the Southern Backtones invoke a mid-eighties heavier than new wave, softer than punk, but always charged with emotion, kind of feeling.

The band has seen a great deal of attention in recent times with a national tour sponsored by Levi's and a feature in ASCAP's renowned Audio Portrait series. College radio attached itself to the band's EP with significant to heavy rotation nationwide while the band toured relentlessly in 2005 and 2006.

The Houston Chronicle calls Southern Backtones "a sea of expansive, dark rock with the unmistakable, vampy touch of David Bowie and the indigo mood of Echo & the Bunnymen."

Expect great things in 2007 from this band that takes the road less traveled. For an act that refuses to follow trends, the Southern Backtones have unwittingly placed themselves into an admirable pool of uniquely different acts. Those who have effortlessly made their mark on the world in a way that few ever have or ever will.

Southern Backtones is available through Crystal Clear Distribution, Outbound Music, CD Baby and iTunes.