Animal Spirit, forged in Fort Worth coffee shops and during open-mike nights, has made remarkable progress for a four-piece, multigenre rock band/wall-of-sound that’s only a year old.
In addition to a quickly recorded debut disc and nearly 60 shows, these three men and one woman managed to grab enough votes to earn a best new band nomination in Fort Worth Weekly’s annual music awards competition.
Last summer, guitarist and co-lead singer Andrew Stroheker developed a handful of acoustic songs, which he was reluctant to sing in front of live audiences.
He met Sam Wuehrmann, who was concluding her dance studies degree at Texas Christian University.
She encouraged him to give the singer-songwriter thing a go by offering to accompany him on the microphone.
A few sessions later, drummer Parker Anderson and bassist Joe Cannariato joined the fold.
Initially, Stroheker was playing drums, Anderson was on bass, and Cannariato played guitar in a more psychedelic jam band, but what Wuehrmann calls “the switcheroo” sounded better, so the group stuck with the new arrangement, which will be on display Saturday as they perform at the Clearfork Music Festival in Fort Worth.
The chaotic genesis is a good representation of Animal Spirit’s music, a mishmash of haunting melody and driving, rhythmic chaos.
All members agree on the influence of vintage indie bands such as Modest Mouse and Blonde Redhead, but individually, they draw inspiration from everywhere — from Frank Sinatra to hard-core heavy metal.
Remarkably, especially in a live setting, the music comes together into a trance-inducing whole.
Stroheker and Wuehrmann trade off singing lead, and the other members contribute supporting vocals to thick harmonies. The rhythm section manages the difficult task of playing complex parts in a nondistracting manner. As the members jump around theatrically onstage, the result becomes hypnotic.
Working together rather than focusing on individual parts is a big part of the reason Animal Spirit has traveled so far so quickly, according to band members.
“We’re actually vibing off the energy rather than just going through the motions of hitting the right notes or making it look like we’re rocking out,” said Cannariato. “It’s easy for us to be real and to try new and crazy things.”
The band knew it had stumbled onto something in the early jam sessions, so it rushed into the studio to record the nine songs found on its self-titled debut, released this summer.
The album showcases a young band, which has grown by leaps and bounds since then.
“Next time, we’ll use a better studio, find a producer that actually gets our sound,” Anderson said.
In the meantime, Animal Spirit plans to keep writing and gigging, expanding a network that already includes new clubs and friends from San Antonio to Hot Springs, Ark.
“Animal Spirit is not just [the band],” Anderson said. “It’s a huge community of a lot of awesome people who help us, and we give back to them.”