Other than Nickelback, whose trajectory no good music writer can explain, it’s pretty obvious early on whether a new band has the goods to convert the music into an actual career. Austin electro-rock act Culture Wars is one group with the potential to hit the big time. The band is set to make an impact with its self-titled EP, released this month.
While only five songs, each one could sit comfortably on alternative rock radio charts. From the soaring Imagine Dragons riffs of “Hideaway,” to the Alt-J via Depeche Mode styling of “Bones,” and the Nine Inch Nails-meets-T. Rex stomp of standout “Money (Gimme Gimme),” there’s not a dud among them.
Culture Wars hits White Oak Music Hall Thursday night after a long gestation period in the studio, ready to ply their hard work into a live experience the band promises to be special. Be there to say you knew them before they blew up.
The band's guitarist Mic Vrendenburgh recently checked in with CultureMap following a studio session where the band is working on new songs for a future full length.
Five things to know about Culture Wars:
Culture Wars rose out of defunct Austin five-piece The Vanity and all three members have been playing music for years. Fun fact: Vrendenburgh holds a graduate degree in cello from University of Texas.
Mic Vrendenburgh: The three core members came together after the demise of The Vanity. That band phased out sometime last year and we started writing music that was very different from that, which we decided to call Culture Wars at some point. The other two band members have known each other for a little longer than they’ve known me, but I’ve known them for about three years now. I got really close to them and when the time came to start a new band, I was very happy to keep going with them because they had become my best buds.
The name Culture Wars came from a long list of names, ultimately decided on because it fit the new direction of the music.
MV: It had a bit of an edge to it when a lot of other names didn’t and we felt it represented the new music better, it’s a little more aggressive and experimental. As far as the political ideology that comes to mind with the term "culture wars," there wasn’t really anything like that in creating the name. But that being said, we do like to draw from a lot of different places when we write music, so it kind of works that way too.
The band’s EP, produced by Rob Sewell, features a cache of tracks with the ability to get into your head, including first single,“Money (Gimmie, Gimmie).”
MV: (After The Vanity), we had the conscious thought that we still wanted to write really great music but we wanted to give every song the chance of being someone’s favorite song on the radio, not something experimental song structure-wise. I think it takes a certain discipline to really make something with the fat trimmed off, that has that pop sensibility and still keep your own character in the sound. That’s really what we were going for.
The EP was mixed and mastered by Alan Moulder who has worked on a ton of classic albums by artists you love, including Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, Depeche Mode and Interpol, and Manny Marroquin, who worked on albums by Kanye West and Imagine Dragons.
MV: It’s a dream come true. We have a great manager, Kevin Womack, here in Austin that has helped us out through the whole process in creating a new band. He had a good relationship with Manny and made it happen. It wasn’t a sure thing but we thought, "Why not?" It worked out and ended up being really cool.
Not surprisingly, Culture Wars is influenced by those bands and others that incorporate electronics into their rock sound.
MV: Depeche Mode is definitely a big influence. Tears for Fears too. A lot of them are what you would call synth-pop bands. We used a lot of synthesizers on this EP, which is different for us because we were guitar-based before and now we combine everything and pull out all the stops.
Culture Wars performs at White Oak Music Hall on Thursday, Aug. 24 with Houston act Deep Cuts and Austin DJ Charles Mxxn. Doors open at 8 pm. Tickets are $10.