The Texas Gentlemen Are Stepping Out on 'TX Jelly'
The studio band, who have worked with everyone from George Strait to Ed Sheeran, are releasing their first album on Friday.
Studio bands don't get enough credit. They're usually made up of insanely talented people who rarely get their due 15 minutes of fame, relegated to liner notes and maybe performing on stage with a well-known artist a couple times. But the Texas Gentlemen are not your average studio band, and at last year's Newport Folk Festival, the Dallas natives finally got their due. They joined Kris Kristofferson on stage for his first appearance at the festival since 1969, when he played guitar for Johnny Cash as a total newcomer. A few weeks after their Newport performance, the band's ringleader, Beau Bedford, who also produces records and worked on Paul Cauthen's debut My Gospel (Cauthen is featured on two songs on this record: "Gone" and "My Way") was in Muscle Shoals with some time to kill after an artist had to cancel their studio time. Faced with an empty studio and no one to record, he invited the gentlemen and a bunch of their buds over and TX Jelly was born. It's a fantastic collection of good-ass guitar music. Sometimes it sounds like The Beatles, sometimes Jefferson Airplane, sometimes Leon Russell. It's both funky and psychedelic, softly acoustic singer-songwriter, and occasionally perverted.
Below, we're premiering the album in full, ahead of its release on September 15. We also got the opportunity to chat with Bedford and ask him how it feels to be where they're at now, backing Ed Sheeran, and whether or not he thinks ghosts can give blowjobs (it's relevant, I swear).
Noisey: What went into making the decision to go touring as The Texas Gentlemen, to put yourselves out there as a main act?
Beau Bedford: It was an obvious next step for the band, we had already been doing some shows on our own in Dallas, and then once we ended up cutting an album, and signing with a label, we were fully ready, and excited to go out on the road as our own.
Did you think that you have- like did you form having in mind sort of becoming this main act?
It was just kind of the- a lot of things in our band happened this way, whether it was just the Great Spirit [laughs] kind of providing opportunities for us that we just really couldn't ignore. Y'know, last year we had friends from a local business in Dallas called The Belmont Hotel that were able to get us into Newport Folk Festival, and we played one of their main stages, and had Kris Kristofferson roll out with us. That was our first time to play outside of Dallas as The Texas Gentlemen and to walk onto a huge stage like that we were really thrown into an incredibly unique situation. Then a month later—I produce records full time—I had an artist back out of a session I was doing at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. So I just invited the rest of the gents band out, and a bunch of our friends, and that's the record that we ended up cutting.
That's not a bad way to debut yourself.
[Laughs] Not at all. At the time we really looked at The Texas Gentlemen as the anonymous heroes. We didn't really have ambitions or intentions to try and be some world-famous band or anything. We looked to bands like The Wrecking Crew, and The Swampers, these studio bands that kind of preceded us. To us, the goal has always been just to create and make timeless American music, so this has been a really fun next up for the ban. Stepping out into our own, and internally with the band, there's such amazing talent in it, so for me, it's exciting to go out every single night with these guys cause they're just overly and pervertedly talented. Every night we're playing songs and it's like we're playing them for the first time, and it's such a fun experience.
I get the sense just from your videos and your songs that you're kinda like..the rowdy background guys who don't get enough credit but who always know how to party?
[Laughs] I think that's one way to say it. We definitely have a ton of fun together. We've been all playing music together now for almost 10 years. And at this point we're as close as brothers. We are family, and we do have a great time together, but we're not the young twenty year olds who have no idea what we're doing anymore. We're really passionate about what we're pursuing, and the fun stuff in the music videos is really us—that's just kind of an extension of some of the comedy that goes on [laughs] behind the scenes with us. We can take the dumbest topic and just run with it, and have such great, verbal fun with it. And I think the music videos is an extension of both the family rapport that we have, and the comedy that happens when we're not on stage. It kinda keeps everything fun all the time. We're spending eight hours in a van driving from Dallas to Nashville, y'know?
I do not envy that. I was going to ask if the videos were an extension of your guys' humor.
It 100 percent is. The most recent video we put out, "Bondurant Woman," I mean that's each guy. The director, myself, and our manager, we kinda came up with these characters, they had very loose back stories but we wanted to have a goat farmer, and an armadillo trainer, and a mentalist, and we just came up with these absurd characters, and we went to all the guys, and that's everybody's unique brand of humor, just coming through in the interviews. But we had very few things scripted for that.
It was just the director asking the guys questions, and them inventing answers for their character. I've never thought any of my music videos were funny, and watching this one, I was just crying when I saw the first cut of it. That's not uncommon for us, to just get that absurd around one another.
I was listening to "Superstition," and the vocalist asks if you would ever get a blowjob from a ghost, I remember thinking "yeah these guys definitely got some earnest conviction that they sing with."
Yeah, there's—it's funny you bring up that line, cause we had some notable friends that are significant artists, they're like..you're really going to say that? The writer of that song is Daniel Kramer, and he had a number of people that were like "are you really going to say that?" And he was like, "Yes! Like, I'm serious, I mean it." And there's no other way to phrase it. And it's just one of my favorite things that to me, that's not my own personal truth or experience, that's Daniel's, but there's no way I would ever get in the way of an artist saying something that he really feels, or something that he's experienced. And it was like an earnest question. It's ridiculous. It does make you smile, and if there's kids in the audience, sometimes you like wanna cringe [laughs] on stage.
You're like okay kids, cover your ears for this one!
Yeah. But it's true. And it's stuff that just goes through our brains when we're missing a loved one, or yeah. That's just one of my favorite lines on the whole record [laughs]. Just because it's so blunt and honest.
That's awesome. I know that you guys have been touring bands with a bunch of artists. How did the Ed Sheeran collaboration end up happening?
Cause that was the one that threw me for a loop. I was like, Ed Sheeran?
It was really amazing. We were in Austin playing Louie Messina's birthday party, and Ed is one of Louie's artists that he's promoted over the years, and Ed showed up there. It was actually our saxophone player, Jeff Daisy, who also plays with Leon Bridges, went off stage while we were on stage, and went up to Ed and he was like, dude, you've got to get on stage, like... kick this party off with us. And so Ed walks up on stage and grabs an acoustic—we'd never played with Ed, we'd just met him that night, and he just like started playing some chords, and he was like, follow me. We're like, alright, we'll follow you down there. And he went through a ten minute long, 1990's like hip hop homage, of just, I couldn't even tell you half the songs. [Laughs]. It was so much fun. Like, he was just cruisin' through like all these tunes, and we were just playing funk jams underneath him.
I mean, he's a great artist! He gets a lot of flack for being who he is, but he's good.
He's phenomenal. Well the thing is, Ed doesn't question what he does—or at least to me, it doesn't come across that way. He has a gift, and he has a talent, and he like, goes for it, and he doesn't apologize for it. And that resonates with so many people. It's this like belief in yourself, and having faith in yourself, and he has a ridiculous voice. All that stuff combined together, equals people being drawn to you, and inspired by you. And just, that was such a fun night, getting to play with him.
That sounds like so much fun. I love how that came together.