In a carnival of faux-vintage scarves, hideously sexy sunglasses, and whatever else is unconsciously trendy, the SXSW 2007 crowd was a hipster fashion show at its best, but Solid Gold opted out of the scene completely and went for a more classic look—the mariachi band. Donning heeled boots, puffy shirts, and super-tight black suits, the three amigos sweltered in the Austin heat.
"There were three rules for the week," band member Zach Coulter explains. "You couldn't pass up free food, beer, or take off your mariachi suit."
Coulter, Matt Locher, and Adam Hurlburt stuck to their promise and found themselves suffering clothing-inflicted bruises, taking street naps, and even swimming in a pool that was closed for health reasons.
"When I finally got home and put on a pair of jeans, it felt like I was wearing the finest woven silk," Coulter remembers.
Out of the suits and back in Minneapolis, Solid Gold has since added two members, slide guitarist Shon Troth and drummer Adam Peterson, thereby solidifying their sound into the incredible ride it is today. Listening to Solid Gold's electric, psychedelic, and simultaneously stable rock is like inhaling and exhaling at the same time.
Straight off a plane from New York, all but Peterson gather downtown at Barrio on a Monday night to sip some tequila and discuss the band's current state of mind. After several years of reconfiguring, Solid Gold are finally feeling like their name fits and releasing their debut full-length, Bodies of Water.
"We're finally hurdling that hump," Coulter says with a smile and a sigh.
Blending and braiding a multitude of sounds, Bodies of Water features organ melodies with anxious guitar, fueling bass lines, and technologic input. The tracks are an invigorating IV of straight serotonin, providing a sense of musical ecstasy you can enjoy up or down.
With a rainbow of pills on their show posters (which Coulter says is just their version of coloring Easter eggs), pictures of fat guys in capes, and their sometimes-strange stage apparel, the guys say they're just trying to play off "the absurdity of it all," the "all" referring mostly to their jobs as musicians. Coulter says that while they're not necessarily interested in writing party songs, they don't need to keep a serious edge on every aspect.
"During the last 10 years, everybody and their mom have been in a band. We're just taking it with a grain of salt and having fun with it," says Hurlburt.
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Solid Gold eventually exhausted their opportunities in the small city and headed west to play with Twin Cities friends Digitata, Building Better Bombs, and Mystery Palace. More recently, the five-piece have been traveling internationally, finding success in Iceland and, most notably, London.
"[In London] I think people are more eager to listen to something that's unlike everything else," Hurlburt says, which is exactly what Solid Gold are trying to be—different. Although they may have influences from the past, the band members say they are by no means attempting to be any sort of decade revival.
"We never sat down and decided what kind of music we wanted to play," says Locher, who places their music into his made-up "retro-future" genre. "With some bands, that's just so obvious. We just play what we feel."
Changing things up at all times, Locher, Hurlburt, and Coulter often play each other's instruments, taking advantage of their varying abilities to create otherwise unexpected sounds. Locher says the limitations in his music-theory knowledge make him "play really weird shit" and helps to keep their work versatile.
"We like to keep switching things up. We'll probably change it again next year. Maybe add in a choir of dolphins or a clown singing a cappella," Coulter says, while singing along to a Junior Senior remix playing in the restaurant.
Happy to be home and back in the company of their girlfriends, the group agree they are "very communal," an extended family that gets along better than most actual families. But like any true brothers, the guys admit they can fight like siblings, too.
"Most recently we fought about sandwiches. I got a full beer can thrown at me because of it," Hurlburt says to Coulter, who simply smirks. He must have deserved it.
SOLID GOLD play a CD-release show with Mystery Palace and DJ Real Jaguar on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, at the VARSITY THEATER; 612.604.0222