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Q&A: Indie music collective The Wheel Workers discuss new single

The+Wheel+Workers+are+visit+Bryan+on+April+1%2C+2022%2C+to+play+their+newest+single%2C+HARBOR.
Courtesy of The Wheel Workers

The Wheel Workers are visit Bryan on April 1, 2022, to play their newest single, “HARBOR.”

Houston-based Indie music collective The Wheel Workers are coming to The 101 in Bryan on Friday, April 1 to share the title track of their upcoming album “Harbor” with the Bryan-College Station community. Doors open at 8 p.m., and music kicks off at 9 p.m. along with groups Prof. Fuzz63 and Casbah Club.

Lead singer and songwriter of The Wheel Workers Steven Higginbotham shared the group’s inspiration behind “Harbor” and his experience as the director of a group whose career spans two decades.

THE BATTALION: Who are The Wheel Workers?

We’ve been around for a while. We actually formed in the early 2000s up in Austin and we all lived together and it was a group of guys. It was a fun time, early 20s. But since then, the membership has changed and the current lineup has been pretty stable for about seven years. But a lot of people from the older days still contribute. They don’t play live, but they might help with the recordings or kind of writing a song and stuff. It’s sort of like a music collective, almost. I am the director, I help organize everything, but a lot of people contribute. Our current membership is, we’ve got Erin Rodgers, she plays keyboard and harmonies, Craig Wilkins, he plays guitar and keyboards, Zeek Garcia is the bassist and Kevin Radomski is the drummer …We’ve been around for a while. It’s been different members who’ve come in and out. 

How did “Harbor” come to be and what was the process like of making the new album and the new single?

I was finishing up law school when the pandemic hit, so I was sort of already in quarantine because law school is a crazy experience. Of course with the pandemic I just went into full quarantine mode for a while. I was working with our longtime producer, a guy named Dan Workman who’s worked with a lot of great artists, like Lyle Lovett. Me and [Workman] have become really good friends and we developed this remote way of working and mixing the records where I record most of the instruments at my place, I have an attic that I’ve converted into a studio, where we record, so I would record the instruments, edit them and then I would send them to Dan, and we would mix remotely via FaceTime. “Harbor” came out of that process. The lyrics to me represent wounded people finding solace in each other in a difficult world. But, as the world went crazy over the last few years, it applied more generally that we could all use sort of a break from the relentless bad news and chaos that seems to be plaguing the world.

How would you say that “Harbor” differentiates itself from your music from the early 2000s?

The early 2000s we were a little bit more psychedelic and a little jammy. We would play all the time together, which was really cool. We had an almost psychic connection because we played so often. But now, I would say the material is maybe a little more mature and feels like I’ve evolved as a songwriter. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and it also incorporates a little bit more keyboards and synthesizers. The early stuff was very heavy and guitar-oriented. Our next single actually is going to be almost a punk rock, Pixies kind of single, but this one, “Harbor,” features more of our newer sound. I would say it features the more recent sound that has become a little more layered and a little more synthesizer oriented.

When y’all perform tomorrow at The 101 in Bryan, what should attendees expect from this performance?

Hopefully a pretty high energy, fun good time. We’ve got a lot of material in our background. So lately, a lot of our sets are kind of like Greatest Hits type sets, plus a few new songs. We’ve been doing this for almost two decades now, so we’ve got a song that can generate a lot of enthusiasm in the crowd, and it’s always fun to test out some new material. I feel like we bring a polished but high-energy performance. That said, hopefully people will really enjoy it. We used to play Revs quite a bit with The Ex-Optimists who were based in BryanWe got to play LoudFest a few times. So in some ways, Bryan feels like our home away from home. We played there a lot. We haven’t played there, though, since the pandemic, so it’s gonna be really nice to be there again. One of the things that I’ve noticed on the shows since live music has come back is everybody seems very happy to be there. There was a long period where live music essentially was not happening for over a year or more, and I just noticed that we played like three or four shows now and the vibe is different — people are really into it and appreciative, and the same is true for us as musicians, we’re very glad to be playing on stage again.

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