Q&A with Buffalo Rodeo

Ahead of their show with Five Pound Snap and Dietrich Jon at the Bishop on Thursday, Nathaniel Davis of Buffalo Rodeo was kind enough to answer some questions regarding the band’s origin, the scene in Bowling Green, and essential tour snacks.

You guys have been making music for a while now. How’d y’all meet//decide to start a band?

Buffalo rodeo started when Zach, Ryan and I were in high school. We played with different people for a couple years as we found our—albeit ever changing—identity. About three years ago, we were joined by Jordan and Patrick and began to work in a more professional direction; seeking out opportunities to turn our love for music into a career.

Your songs have really interesting and complex lyrics, but with all the instrumentation and distortion going on, they don’t always show up front-and-center when listening. In that way, it comes off as a pretty judicious split between the two components. With that in mind, which comes first: music or lyrics?

There is never a real set formula for a song or piece of music in our group. Many of our pieces start out with thought-out musical movements, and that music inspires someone in the band to write the lyrics or melodies that accompany it. Other times, a song may come from a simple acoustic guitar with lyrics and a melody and get transformed into an unrecognizable cousin of the original piece. You can’t really tell yourself what kind of song you want to write in my mind. You have to be the conduit for the creative juice, and let it flow. And with all of us channeling differently—sometimes in harmony and sometimes clashingly, there are infinite possibilities to create as well as infinite interpretations. Our music isn’t meant for you to figure out exactly what it’s about, but rather express an emotion or feeling on many different levels so that the listener can interpret it to fit the moment they are in. A misheard lyric is just as powerful as the real one.

Can you describe the music scene in Bowling Green?

The scene in Bowling Green is based almost completely on community rather than genres or bands specifically. It’s a small town with a lot of diversity. You can go to a house show with a shoegaze band, a surf band, and a synth pop band all on the same bill and no one thinks twice. A lot of music appreciation goes beyond the sounds from an amp or someone’s mouth, and extends to a group’s personality and how they carry themselves in the scene. There’s no room for “not wanting to play with that kind of band” or “that band doesn’t really fit the bill” because there aren’t many places to play, and most likely, the singer of that shoegaze/doom band is playing keys in another synth pop band or what have you. As soon as you break down those barriers, you enrich everyone in the scene much more, and focus on the important aspects of it all and appreciate everyone for putting themselves out there. Somehow, BG had seemed to do that more than most places.

Who are you listening to right now?

HARD QUESTION. We listen to everything from Thundercat and Kendrick Lamar to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Mahavishnu Orchestra. The essence of psychedelic music (to me) is embracing all of your influences and letting them come out however they may.

You label your music as ‘psychedelic’ (among other things!) and it definitely has that intonation. What do you find compelling about making psychedelic music? Does it allow you a certain freedom that perhaps another genre or style doesn’t?

A lot of people think of psych as Syd-Era Pink Floyd—and they’d be right! However, trying to call one thing psych and another not is just injustice to the original meaning. It’s all meant to be about open interpretation and open-mindedness. Those guys were just molding all of their influences together like hot wax back then. And that’s what we’re doing now—rather than just recreating someone else’s specific concoction of “psych” at the time.

Y’all are currently on tour. What are essential tour snacks you like to keep on hand?

We try very hard to keep healthy and bring stuff with us so we can save money (rice cakes, water, 5 gallons of peanut butter, etc.), but in reality we all use the tour life as an excuse to eat everything under the sun. Especially if we can’t get it at home! It’s a fine balance between being healthy/money conscious, and taking advantage of the amazing food around us. We do bring a lot of nonperishables to cook at people’s houses or at venues if we have the time to devote to it.

You released 123 Water last year and you’ve got this tour going on right now. What’s up next for Buffalo Rodeo?

We’ve been recording and writing new music non-stop, as well as consistently reworking old material to add some new flare. Touring gives us the opportunity to try out lots of ideas and work through a lot of stuff in an environment that gives us real feedback versus just “wondering” what everyone will think. Soon enough we’ll have new music to show to everyone via the appropriate online and hard copy platforms—so stay tuned!