People may expect to hear blues rhythms and melodies when listening to a duo that lacks the “elemental” bass player –like The White Stripes and The Black Keys –however, their expectation can’t be qualified when it comes to Not In The Face. Guitarist Jonathan Terrell and drummer Wes Cargal unapologetically deliver a raw rock ‘n’ roll that commands attention through powerhouse performances and recordings.
“When we started this project it’s not like we didn’t want a bass player, we just got together to jam,” Terrell said. “It had its own chemistry to it. You know the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?’ If we did add a bass player, we would be just another three-piece band.”
Surely, the chemistry between Cargal and Terrell really sets them apart. The friends hail from East Texas, a source of inspiration they both hone in on when they craft their garage grind. “We connect with East Texas more on a hometown roots level,” Terrell said. “There is more of a family feeling and a sense of pride but a sense of calmness, like, ‘I’m confident where I’m from.’ But as far as moving and progressing we’re more tied in to Austin.”
Indeed, Austin provides the daytime bartenders the perfect platform to sort out their twangy garage grooves. Both admit the city houses individuals who take advantage of the artistic means Austin has to offer because it’s an environment that truly nurtures its art and music scene. They obviously feel a part of this community.
“Here, you don’t have to put up a front for anybody or pretend,” Cargal said. “You’ll want to invest in it because [our music] is fun to listen to and it makes you feel good . . . but it still has an emotional impact.”
The guitarist is definitely right about that much. The band’s record “Bikini” is proof that NITF plays along the line of sheer fun and a ferver to express themselves as musicians. Then again, the dudes don’t want to take things too seriously. They are called “Not In The Face” for a reason. Terrell said their name is “memorable but people are also very inquisitive about it and want to find out what it means.” Seems like a great hook to me! “It can go in a lot of ways, depending on the filthiness of the viewer’s brain,” Terrell added. “It can be perceived as different things, it brings ambiguousness about it.”
So now that they have a persona about them, NITF is wrapping up their second compilation, an EP called “Walk.” The two-piece described the four songs as being distinct from one another: there is a honky tonk-ish track, a straight rock ‘n’ roll song, a pop-y moody hit, and a remake of a track on “Bikini.”
“It’s a much different approach than ‘Bikini,’ which was a bunch of demos that never had any direction to walk into,” Terrell said. “We just kept tracking demos and cleaned them up to put them on the record. ['Walk'] is the first attempt to record something new and it will capture the tough vibe we have, definitely trying to experiment with as much as we know in the studio.”
“This EP is pretty radical departure from the way ['Bikini'] sounds in a forward moving way,” Cargal added. “It’s been interesting for us because I’m not comfortable in the studio so we’re learning a lot about how to use the studio as a third instrument.”
But we’ll just have to wait until the fall to see just what the guys have in store. In the meantime, we can also keep in mind that we may, in the near future, hear Cargal on some backup vocals. “I was trying to force [singing] for a while but at this point I’m going to let it come naturally,” the drummer said. Perhaps letting things run their course naturally is the right way to go. The band mates have said themselves that NITF has developed very organically, truly believing that there is a lot they can do with a two-piece.
Written by Elizabeth Hinojos
Images by Fuzebox Photography
Styled by Bobbi Douglas