The North Texas indie rock community may not get the same attention as its I-35 South counterpart in Austin, but it’s certainly produced a selection of breakout stars over the past couple decades. Leading the charge on that are the country-leaning Old 97’s, orchestral rock-and-choral Polyphonic Spreem and the garage-y Deathray Davies.
The drummers for all three of those bands—along with friends—have united to form Cantina, a North Texas supergroup of sorts formed by Deathray Davies drummer John Dufilho. Dufilho plays guitar and sings, with Polyphonic Spree drummer Jason Garner picking up the bass, and Philip Peeples of the Old 97’s, who keeps the beat for both projects. They are joined by Andy Lester, also of the Deathray Davies, and banjo player Marcus Hollar.
In the video for the single “Bulletproof” from the band’s debut LP, A Sea Of Keys, the guys show off what they can do when they’re not all behind the skins. And in a very tiny room.
“Bulletproof” started with a chord progression that Hollar brought to Dufilho on the banjo, and Dufilho—who had a cold at the time—felt like his croaky throat meant that it was the perfect time to realize his vision of a band that exists somewhere in between Johnny Cash and the Magnetic Fields. “We’re nowhere as good as either, but that’s what happens when you ask bands about their influences,” Dufilho laughs. “I can’t come close to singing this low normally, as I’ve got the voice of a little kid, but I listened to the idea that Marcus had sent, picked up a Bullet mic, pressed record, and sang the first thing that came out.” That was basically the entire process on “Bulletproof,” he says—from first to final take in a straight shot.