Real Live Tigers has had a rotating cast of musicians and a roving home base since its 2004 inception. But the primary project of singer-songwriter Tony Presley—which was born in Austin—returned to Texas in 2013, and the video for “Denatured” helps explain why. “One of the main reasons I moved back to Austin is so I could work with people that wanted to work on creative stuff all the time,” Presley says. To that end, the video, which was shot by filmmaker Michael Ozmun in the dry bottom of Austin’s Waller Creek, offers a collaborative look at Presley’s vision for his music. “The artwork and the imagery are an important part of the music,” he says. “The trick was finding someone who was on the same page that I’m on.”
The song itself is the title track from Real Live Tigers’ fourth album, which is out April 15 on Keeled Scales. It’s a simple, sad song—just low tones from an acoustic guitar and Presley’s voice, singing about losing oneself and being “restless as the waves”—while the video blends footage of the dry creek bed, Presley’s Austin home, and archival footage from the Library of Congress to capture that air of longing. “The song—and in a large part, the album—is about disappointment in the world around us and the repercussions of living away from yourself for too long,” Presley says. Those are heavy, contemplative themes, and when they’re sung with this kind of sincerity, they’re also easy ones to find common ground with.