By Sander Wolf
The energetic kid from Irving who sang "My cerebral situation is carefree" on one of his homemade cds a couple of years ago isn't always so upbeat anymore. Just a few scant months ago he was blasting his new record company's hesitancy to release his newest album and seemed ready to junk the whole thing altogether. But with the imminent release of This Euphoria on Atlantic/Lava, Garza's sure to be back on the brighter side of life.
"Now that the album's about to come out, being on a major label is great -- I'm not having to make a mad rush to the post office to get the postcards out for the gig in Corpus Christi anymore. I can spend more time working on my guitar and my songs," explains Garza. "The wait has been frustrating at times, but I learned to deal with it."
Garza is used to a far more rapid release schedule. For a man who's crafted and distributed five packed cd's in as many years for his own record label, a two year wait between signing the contract and seeing his record on store shelves must seem like an eternity. Refusing to sit idle, Garza recently brought out his own well-worn 4-track cassette recorder and created a cd for his own label, the aptly titled 4-Track Manifesto. The album marked a turning point for Garza, giving his fans their first taste of the new, more aggressive sound he had been leaning toward in his live shows. Leading off with the appropriately trashy "Discoball World," which will also be the first single released off of This Euphoria, the cd may have had more of an edge, but still found the soul of Garza lurking within.
"I like doing different stuff," says Garza. "Most people stop me and say 'What are you doing?' with this incredulous look. They'll ask me, 'Do you know you're kinda crazy now?' But I just say 'It's theater, it's art, it's different every time -- it's fun.'" then laughing he adds, "...and if you don't like it....well, sorry."
Garza's original sound began almost ten years ago playing impromptu outdoor gigs on the University of Texas campus with an acoustic band named Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom after the sounds that the band members' instruments made. Playing upbeat songs about fishsticks and liking your girlfriend's sister, the group quickly gained popularity with the students. Twang Twang released a tape or two before Garza hit the clubs as David Garza and the Love Beads. He switched to Dah-VEED, the phonetic spelling of his traditional latino name, soon after.
Hard-core fans may find the This Euphoria takes a little bit longer to get used to than the rest of Garza's catalog. This isn't a sit in your room and watch the rain type album that Garza's had occasion to release in the past. This Euphoria is full-on, full-spectrum rock.
"Glow in the Dark," ironically the cd's darkest song, resonates with sonic twirps, stomping guitar lines, and harsh bursts like, "I glow in the dark/And I won't sit still/'Till my teeth tear apart/Every scrap of your will." Booming drums and droning distortion mold the throwback base of "Kinder" as Garza wrestles with a grueling love/hate relationship both lyrically and musically. A revamped ska groove drives the lighthearted "Slave." A previous, less backbeat version of the song also appears on the soundtrack to the movie Great Expectations.
Of course, it wouldn't be a David Garza album without a ballad or two and some seriously deep lyrics. It's this mixture of pop highs and tendency towards melancholy lows that defines Garza's sound more than anything else. "Sadness," at first a musically uplifting tune, becomes a perfect example when it hits with the unexpected opening line, "Sadness as she watches her son die/He's flying through a forest of bruised clouds." Looped violins and light percussion grace the opening of "Baptiste" over which Garza croons, "How can you kill without mercy/Just to dress up like a king?" The simplicity of the song subtly gives way to a disorienting ricochet of hard acoustic guitars and XTC-like glissando strings before building up to the introspective climax of "Suffering is not such a blessing." It's a welcome cathartic exercise that seldom makes it to the airwaves.
"I've never really had that much in common with what's on the radio," admits Garza, proud of the fact that he's managed to sell almost 30,000 cds with basically zero airplay. With the coming of This Euphoria and a scheduled tour that includes dates with Matchbox 20, Ben Harper, and Ani DiFranco that may be a streak that's about to end.