It's difficult to believe it's been 15 years since Texas is the Reason released their only studio album Do You Know Who You Are? However what might be more unbelievable is how well these post-hardcore anthems have aged over the past decade-and-a-half. (Just check out this year's recently released compilation Do You Know Who You Are? The Complete Collection if you don't believe us.) That said, if you haven't heard of TITR it's because they broke up in late '97 and didn't reconvene until 2006 when they played two shows in Brooklyn to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the album.
After honing their crafts via respective careers in music, academia, cooking and hairstyling, late last year Texas is the Reason announced that they would be reuniting for a festival hosted by their label Revelation Records in New York City—and since then they've played a handful of shows throughout the country to fans both new and old, a jaunt which is culminating with their final US gigs in Los Angeles and San Francisco this weekend. The band's guitarist Norman Brannon was kind enough to take a break from writing his master's thesis to discuss over coffee how this all came about and why now is the right time for it to end . . . again.
PureVolume: So these California gigs will be your final shows in America.
Norman Brannon: Yes, ever. Definitely.
No offense, but haven't you thought that Texas is the Reason were playing their "final shows" before?
Well, obviously, yeah. There are these two segments of time: We broke up in 1998 and at that time, I wouldn't have expected anyone to be interested in our band in 2013—it was just incomprehensible at the time. Then you have 2006 and that felt very much like, "This is our only shot" mostly because we had spent the last 10 years living in different cities, doing these different things. I was just about to go to school and I figured when I started that there wasn't going to be anything else [from the band] . . . at least on my end.
So what changed?
In 1998 and 2006, we both said [we were done] with the specter of two songs never have of been recorded that we loved dearly. So when Revelation asked us in July to play Rev 25, our first response was "no," and our second response was "wait a second, maybe we can record those songs."
Once it became clear to us that this was our window of opportunity to record those songs, the playing live part kind of flowed out of that. Up until that point, we had only played those songs on our last tour with the Promise Ring in America and our European tour in 2006 and we loved them dearly.
Were the logistics of getting this reunion together complicated?
Well, we knew going into it that we weren't going to be able to do this "for real" because of the fact that we had built—even between 2006 and now—so much of our personal lives either with our families or careers. So we figured out these little pockets of time where we could do this. We made an agreement among ourselves that we would only do what we could do, no guilt tripping each other if one person could do more or if one person can do less. So that's what we're doing and as we're coming to California this is the last of what we can do in America.
The response to all of these shows seems like it's been so overwhelmingly positive. Has there been the thought, "Hey, this went so much better than we predicted. Maybe we should continue this even if it isn't full-time just to keep it going"
I'm not going to lie, that certainly came up as a hypothetical because we've seen bands who just kind of stay in stagnation and then they get offered a show and they're like, "Okay, lets play!"
There was a period where we said, "Why say no? Let's keep the door open." But it's a lot of work to be in Texas is the Reason. [Laughs] It's so much fucking work and I can't have that window open while I'm focusing on other things, so I want that to be clear to the people who care about these shows. I don't want people to go, "Well, I thought they'd come back." Now that the songs are recorded and The Complete Collection is out, I really feel like our work here is done.
When's the last time you were on the West Coast?
December of 1997. It was us and the Promise Ring at the Troubadour and it was the last show before we ended the bidding war. We made the decision to sign with Capitol that night. It was so exciting—I remember Zack De La Rocha came and was psyched and was like, "Are you ready?"
I think I also had a stomach virus and was completely sick but the adrenaline was overtaking me and it was a great show. I also recall playing the new songs at the show and that was the night I first talked to Gery Gersh, who was the president of Capitol at the time, and I was expecting him to tell me that the new songs needed work because they weren't major label enough and he said, "No, those are the best songs you have."
Is there anything you would like to say as this thing winds down to the people who came out to these shows or, alternately, to the folks who didn't get to see it?
Well, for the people who didn't get a chance to see it: There's definitely a heaviness about it. We don't take it lightly and we understand the disappointment of people who don't live near any of the shows we played. The main thing for me is that people know that when we did this our heart was completely in the right place about it, meaning we knew that basically it was going to be a situation where we were either going to play eight shows in America or no shows in America—and eight shows here sounded like a better option.
All we wanted to do was make some people happy, give these songs life and then end the band completely on the best possible note—and I feel like that's what we did. If nothing else I would just hope that everybody is kind of happy about that because I think the band finally has that real last note.