We don't spend a lot of time thinking about what genre we want to be a part of," says Gourds guitarist Kev Russell. People have been trying to do just that since the Austin, Texas band first got together around '95. "It's kind of a day-to-day thing with us, the kind of mood we get in," Russell says. "Sometimes we're a novelty band. Sometimes we aren't. We just don't want to get pigeonholed into any one scene or genre." Russell characterizes The Gourds' music as "a mixture of folk, country, rock, a little blues, Zydeco and Tex-Mex here and there, just a gumbo of stuff." The guitarist says he likes "sur-rural," the term that Tom Waits came up with for his music.
Although the lyrics don't always make sense, Russell's theory behind the writing is unimpeachable. "I like to read the Bible. The Bible never makes any sense to me either. And it's the most important book we have. So I figured, I'll just write a bunch of songs that don't make any sense and they'll be the most important songs we have."
Russell also likes to do his own interpretation of tunes that aren't normally performed by Texas bands. He talked the rest of the band into covering Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." "I listen to hip-hop music and I'm always hearing songs that I think it'd be fun to do, because lyrically they're just outrageous. So for a white guy like me to get up and sing those kinds of lyrics is hilarious. If I wrote 'em I'd be chastised and blackballed. But if a black guy wrote 'em and a white guy is doing 'em, somehow I can get away with it because it's not my words." But the idea backfired when the song was posted on the Internet, first credited to jam bands like Phish and Salmon. When correctly pinned on The Gourds, it got them a certain notoriety that the band felt took attention away from the rest of their music. "Most places we go, it's not a problem. But some places you go, you'll play a whole show, you'll play really good and people will clap, and they like it all right, but then when you play 'Gin and Juice' the dance floor fills up and people go apeshit. It's cool, it's fun to do, but all these other songs are pretty good too."
The Gourds play the Lincoln Theatre on Friday, Aug. 27 with Papa Mali, and the Blue Bayou on Sunday, Aug. 29.