Austin, Texas, has been home to a carnival of aural trends for 23 years, thanks to South by Southwest's annual music, film and interactive festival. For one hectic week in mid-March, musicians and label representatives and music journalists crowd Austin's streets. Part of the sprawl is a slew of unofficial showcases where most Kansas City bands jam when they make the trip each year. (Think basements, backyards and barbecues — or larger events such as this year's MidCoast Takeover.) The Pitch hit up some of the lucky hometown heroes who've landed coveted spots on South by Southwest's official showcase lineup, joining the ranks of thousands of internationally acclaimed performers.
Darin Seal, Capybara
The Pitch: What was last year like for Capybara at SXSW?
When we went last year, it was our first time. We played a bunch of shows over the course of four days — just unloading, playing, packing up and moving to the next venue or house. One night, we were at this afterparty, and someone told us that the cast of True Blood was there, and apparently some actress from the Twilight movie was also there. We spent the rest of the night making shitty vampire jokes and accidentally kicking people off of couches.
What are you excited about?
Being in a place where ice doesn't fall from the sky four days a week. That and sandwiches from Food Heads.
How are you gearing up for the festival?
We have been recording new material for about six weeks now and have been rehearsing it as much as possible. Capybara hasn't played a show in a long time, but we are jumping in headfirst, full force, with all pistons firing. Thank goodness, too, because our backup plan, if things weren't working out, was to play a set of Papa Roach covers.
What's in it for you guys?
We are hoping that our music will be exposed to a ton of new people by playing SXSW. We are hoping to meet some of our favorite touring bands and trade secret band handshakes with them. We are hoping that it will open up some new recording, touring and promotion channels to us.
What are you guys going to do to rep our fine town in Austin?
We are going to order Boulevard at every bar we go to and throw a fit when they say they don't have it. Also, Jared [Horne] is going to be playing on a Missouri-shaped double-neck guitar.
Aaron Pillar, the Appleseed Cast
What are you looking forward to?
Seeing Ryan [Graveface] from [Appleseed Cast's label] Graveface and listening to stories about how his new house is haunted. And seeing a bunch of awesome bands.
How will this be different from your other SXSW experiences?
We usually only play one show, and it's our first for Graveface records. Oh, and I'll be 40 years old, so I've got that going for me.
What are you going to do to make your hometown proud?
Jordan Geiger, Hospital Ships
How does it feel to be playing the showcase with your own band?
It feels awesome. It's been a long time coming for me. I've played SXSW as a member of Old Canes and Shearwater, but this will be the first time I play with a band where I wrote the songs and sing. The Graveface showcase we're playing makes me really proud to be on that label. It's a great lineup.
How will it be different from your other SXSW experiences?
Well, I've spent a lot of time in Austin in the past few years, so I know the town really well and I have a good place to stay this year. When Old Canes went, we slept in our van under I-35.
How are you preparing?
Building up our tolerance to alcohol and stretching our stomachs for the onslaught of tacos and barbecue.
What are you looking forward to?
I'm more excited this year than I normally get. Hospital Ships has a new record out in June, and we have a really awesome new lineup. It used to be a revolving door of friends. It's a little more stable now. I'm also excited about getting breakfast tacos at El Chilito or Tamale House some morning when we're hung-over.
What does playing SXSW mean for you?
The chance to show that Kansans can kick out the fucking jams.