Junior Blake Byrd is at the point in his musical career when, even casually, his friends refer to him as Blake Byrd Band.
But the visual and media arts major, who returned from a trip where he headlined Austin’s Texas Indie Music festival on Monday, isn’t going to school for music.
“I’m going to school for film and I’m pursuing music,” Byrd said. “How those will line up, we’ll see in a couple years.”
Though Byrd says he can’t yet predict which passion might beat out the other, his band’s forthcoming album, Wherever You Are Now, might give him a hint.
“I think the record will have a big impact on whether [my music career will] becomes something, or nothing,” he said.
In his freshman year of college, Byrd decided to form the Blake Byrd Band. But there are two versions of this musical group: the Austin trio from his home state of Texas, and a quartet from Boston. Depending on where Byrd is, he plays with either the Texans or Bostonians.
Though Byrd called his band’s overall style “indie-pop with southern and rock influences,” he said the individual performers infuse some subtle differences. The bassist in Texas, Jack Gann, plays with a funk flair, while Byrd’s additional guitarist Paul Murray from Boston College provides more guitar solos during shows in Beantown.
But both of these worlds will collide on their new album, which will mark the first collaboration among members from the two cities.
“It’ll be a lot of fun to hear both of them combined for the first time,” Byrd said.
According to Byrd, one of the band’s most popular songs, which will be included on the record, is “High School Sweet Heart.” He said he shares the backstory at every show: It tells the tale of a failed high school relationship, and the regret he felt after breaking up with the girl. Some of the song lyrics read, “She tried to warn me as she walked away / get your act together before your next date / for all you know the next could be the one / well two years later and there haven’t been none.”
The frontman said that the band is also known for covering Justin Timberlake’s song “Dirty Pop,” and “Classy Girls” by the Lumineers.
Coming along with the new record, Byrd said, will be a new set and production—including lights and backdrops—for their live shows. They used the website Indiegogo to raise $1,726.
“We’re going to go from what I call a garage band, to having a start and an end to the show,” he said. “It’s not going to just be what songs we feel like playing that night. We have a full lighting production coming with this, backdrops, secrets that I can’t quite reveal pertaining to a confetti cannon being added to the show.”
Byrd said their headlining set at the Texas Indie Festival—which happened at the same time and only two miles south of the Austin City Limits Festival, which featured performers like Beck, Outkast, and Eminem—was the longest set they had ever played.
“My fingers were bleeding, my voice was gone,” Byrd said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Texas bassist Gann, 17, said that this band is the most successful music group he has been a part of, due to the networking and scheduling Byrd does for the band. Gann said he is excited to have the new record come out.
“I’m not one to brag about things,” he said, “but I’m definitely telling all my friends about it.”
Looking ahead, Byrd said that the band has a goal in mind for their next musical venture.
“We would love to buy an RV for a thousand dollars that’s rusty, that every hundred miles breaks down, that leaks and has a shag carpet and that you can strap drums to the top of with bungee cords, and drive across America,” Byrd said. “That’s what we want to do.”
But for now, while the bandmates are all still in school, Byrd said they are simply looking for that one connection that might allow them to gain a large following.
“I call it searching for the invisible man,” Byrd said. “You’re looking for the one person who’s going to have the one connection or the one label, or the one recording contract, or the one thing. You have no what that looks like. You have no idea who that is.”