Crooks digs up deeply planted Texas country roots and dusts them off with lonesome guitar, southwestern horns, and Josh Mazour’s equal parts aching and rowdy vocals. While the local trio pulls no punches with its country sound, they also add a slice of Deer Tick’s indie impulse live, making them one of the few genuinely country bred acts that fits just as easily at home in Red River’s clubs. After releasing their self-titled debut album in 2008, the band has begun to gain traction and is poised to this year finally kick up some much deserved dirt. Check out two of the tunes off of their debut for download below. Crooks will be heading out for a quick west coast tour next month, but you can catch them before they take off this Friday, January 29 at the Scoot Inn along with ex-Weary Boys outfit Woodsboss, and the folk-drone psych of Headdress.
Sound Off: Crooks
I think Grant and I started writing together in 2008
Josh Mazour- Guitar/Vocals
Rob Bacak – Drums
Sam Alberts- Guitar, Banjo, Trumpet, Harmonica, Piano, Kitchen Sink
Former Bands/Side Projects:
Well, Sam still plays a little in a band called the Little Morts.
Rob was previously in a band called AUX, which is now called Motel Aviv.
He’s now playing with The Golden Bear a little.
We released our first, self-titled, album in 2008.
That was a slow process. No label support, and long hiatus between drummers.
Grant Anderson, who used to play drums for Crooks, is on about half of those songs. And about a year later we added Rob after Grant moved to New York. There is a lot of contrast between the songs; It definitely reflects a period of change in all our lives.
Once we get back from our trip out west, we’re going to begin planning studio time for the next record. We’re all looking forward to this one.
I think we’ve really begun to develop our sound, and hone in on certain aspects of what defines Crooks. Expect plenty more trumpet, and whiskey soaked lonesome songs. And some good bar sing-alongs, too. Not so much rock music this time around.
As far as my initial songwriting, I think my main influences are well rooted in a mixture of Townes Van Zandt and Hank Williams Sr. Those guys mean a ton to me.
I have a solid respect for Mexican culture. And I like to think that we’re maintaining a South Texas feel to all of our music as we progress. It’s pretty important to me.
You wouldn’t know it, but Rob is half Mexican. The other half is Jasper Timberlake, Justin Timberlake’s obscure, forgotten cousin. No special talents, other than a-drinkin’-and-a-huggin’, good ones though.
Sam is classless, and is looking for any culture that will accept him.
Strangest comment or comparison ever made about your music:
This girl was talking to Rob for about 30 minutes, relentlessly bashing Crooks. He just let it slide, and kind of laughed and went along with it. Then one of our friends finally interjected, and told her Rob plays drums for Crooks.
That was great.
Favorite local bands:
Some of the local bands we’ve been into lately are Leo Rondeau, Wayne Hancock, James Hand, Frank Smith, and Western Ghost House.
Favorite local venue:
We love the Mohawk. They’ve really done a lot for us, and I think their contribution to the downtown music scene is invaluable. They have all Texas beer on tap now, too. And if you know me, that’s important. You can usually find Rob and I hangin’ on to the bar for emotional and physical support. Sam is usually about an hour or so behind everyone else.
Try the cock-blaster shot at Mohawk, and chase it with a hug from Ace, the GM over there. That sounds terrible, but you’ll love it.
Upcoming shows scheduled:
We’re playing at The Scoot Inn on Friday, January 29th.
Then, I think we’re gonna make a quick stop into Lovejoy’s for a few songs and some good pints before we head outta town for a couple weeks.
We’re planning on going through El Paso and Las Vegas, then up to Seattle and Portland, along with a couple stops in California on the way back home, where we’ll play at Mohawk that Sunday.
Shows over the next month that you’re excited to see:
We’re pretty busy this month, actually. We have been working on a lot of new songs, planning our short tour out west, and a little surprise for the next show. So, I haven’t really looked at a lot of upcoming shows this month. I know that’s not a good answer.
Some of your favorite albums from the past year:
These probably aren’t in the last year, but some good albums out lately are Delta Spirit’s “Ode to Sunshine”, The Felice Brothers self titled album, and Leo Rondeau’s “Down at the End of the Bar”. There are plenty more, we’ve just been listening to these a lot lately.
Ideal band (past or present) to open for on a national tour:
Hank Williams, or Merle Haggard
Austin Sound questions:
Exactly what kind of Crooks are you?
Just keep an eye on your leftover Mexican food.
Y’all recently added a new drummer, Rob Bacak, to the lineup - how has he influenced or added to the band’s sound and image?
Oh, you mean Jasper Timberlake.
He’s added a fresh drumming style. He has a great knowledge when it comes to percussion, and has been coming up with some ideas lately that make the new songs really stand out.
As far as his image…Rob won most likely to be in a boy band in high school. I’d say he still has a chance.
Give Me Good Reason:
This song is about being the cause of your own problems, and looking for help from anywhere you can to get you through it. It’s a pretty straightforward song, that came from an important period in my life.
This was one of the fist songs Crooks wrote, and probably one of the most important.
We almost threw the song away because we didn’t know what to do with it, and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Then we came up with the idea of bringing the trumpet in, and from there Crooks really began to take shape. We found Sam Alberts, who plays just about every instrument. And now Sam’s a very important part of what makes Crooks work.
We’re working hard to keep this momentum going that we’ve built up over the past year or so. Our first album has laid the groundwork for our band, but we’re ready to take it to the next step.
We love honest, lonesome, and uninhibited country songs that take us back to Texas’ past. The kind that can evoke bar fights, and long whiskey bent nights. And those that you can listen at home when you got nothing else to do, and no one else to do it with.