When the last seconds of 2011 finally ticked to a close, the members of Oil Boom drew a collective sigh of relief. Although musically the year had been cause for celebration, privately the North Texas trio endured an onslaught of bad news. Between a mix of personal and professional disappointments, the group at times staggered about like a prizefighter knocked to the canvas – bloody, bruised and waiting for that final bell to signal their unceremonious exit. If I can be permitted an oil metaphor, individually speaking, 2011 was a complete bust.
The year had started off strong though. On their six song 2011 debut EP release, Black Waxy, the band unleashed a gritty throwback to the blues-rock yore of yesteryear, earning the proverbial thumbs-up from music critics and increasing their fan base in the process. But with the sudden August exit of lead singer Brian Whitten, drummer Dugan Connors and guitarist Ryan Taylor found themselves not only minus a front man, but without a clear path ahead. But faced with calling it a day, they decided to do what they’d always done – keep playing. Taylor, former member of Oklahoma City roots/rock quintet The Rounders, reluctantly stepped in on vocals and to the group’s surprise, it actually made sense. Still, something was lacking.
That something turned out to be bassist Steve Steward (Darth Vato, Epic Ruins), longtime staple of the Ft. Worth music community and more importantly, fan of the band. With Steve’s brand of low in tow, the reformed trio soldiered on, gradually constructing a brand new identity – one deferential to their musical past but clearly looking ahead towards their sonic future.
Says Connors, “I like where the group is at now. We’re a completely different band than we were six months ago and I think that’s a good thing, because it means we’re growing musically and trying to push ourselves to explore new territory. Fleetwood Mac went through all kinds of lineup changes and shifts in direction and look what they accomplished. Now I’m not saying we’re Fleetwood Mac, but I’m not saying we’re not either.”
The updated version of Oil Boom retains the gutsy garage swagger of its previous incarnation, but adds a stronger emphasis on the quirky pop influences of its band members. “I just want to sound like us,” reveals Taylor. “The older I get, the more important that is to me. Or else I’ve just totally forgotten what’s important to me because I’m getting old.” And with the setbacks of 2011 now firmly in their rearview and a new release on the horizon, this year promises to be a banner one for the Boom.