Streets of Laredo is a sing-a-long collision of jangling harmonies, stomping percussion, horns, guitars, and more crazy instruments than you can shake a sampler at. Founded by close-knit family members Daniel, Dave and Sarahjane Gibson and inspired by the fervour and madness of the 70’s folk-rock circuit, the band was born out of trying to escape the mundane everyday working life.
Older brother Dave tells the story, “Both Dan and I had done the hard yards in bands in New Zealand but we were worn out and a little lost by it all. And broke. I was running this t-shirt company and Dan walks in one day to tell me that he’s finished with music and he’s gonna go get a real job. All of a sudden my ‘big brother’ instinct kicks in and rather than see this young songwriter throw it all away, I gave him a job doing t-shirt orders, and we started working on demos and writing songs together, pretty much day and night from then on in.”
Refining their sound and songs one holiday weekend at a beach house on the New Zealand coast, the Gibsons started to fashion a sound that was equal parts folk storytelling and psychedelic madness. “Sonically we wanted to stay true to our long list of influences, but we wanted to screw it up as well – kinda twisty, like Paul Simon on bad acid.” With just one home-town show under their belt, a handful of demos and a whole lot of hope, they took the plunge and decided to move halfway around the world. Fast forward to the summer of 2012 and Streets of Laredo in a rehearsal space in Brooklyn NY with a guitar, a drum-machine and no money, trying to figure out what comes next. And what came next was songs, lots of ‘em.
Sarahjane describes the feeling, “I’d never lived overseas before, let alone in a city like New York, so the sense of isolation and homesickness – coupled with excitement and the unknown – was hugely overwhelming. But pretty soon all of these emotions were turning into lyrics and songs that were really about being a brand new immigrant in America. I mean, the only thing we really knew was that we’d finally made it to New York, we were making music, and we sure as hell weren’t about to leave.”
Quickly adding fellow countryman Thom Darlow and local Brooklynites Sean McMahon and Andrew McGovern to the mix, this now rambling, multi-instrumental, seven-piece started to craft a dance-inducing mix of vocal hooks, beats and wild sounds that saw the New York music scene embrace them as their own – building a firm reputation in the music halls of Brooklyn and the Lower East Side for playing danceable, crazy songs that kept fans coming back for more – not to mention seeing the band feted as a must-see act at both CMJ and SXSW.
Dan sums it up nicely, “It all started with the song Girlfriend. We’d started writing that song before we left New Zealand so it had idealistic hints of what we thought this place would be like – but after living in Brooklyn for a while it took on a whole other layer, kinda like a mistress that can be unfaithful and hard to deal with but also a lot of fun – and that kind of informed the writing of what would become our debut record.”
A quick trip back to New Zealand saw the band record the bones of Volume I & II – ten songs inspired by their old life in NZ and their new life in NYC – in an old converted Auckland theatre where, courtesy of friendships and favours, they locked down that distinctive Streets of Laredo sound. “An influential blog called Girlfriend a ‘twisty psychedelic take on the old folk narrative’, which seemed fairly appropriate for our sonic tastes and style, and the rest was history.” Like Bob Dylan running late to a Ramones concert or Paul Simon getting blind drunk with Grizzly Bear, however you describe them the resulting songs and sound have had an instant effect on fans and critics alike. Streets of Laredo are proud to announce the much-anticipated release of Volume I & II, out October 7, 2014 on Dine Alone Records.