The year: 2007. The iPhone made its debut, the final installment of the Harry Potter books hit shelves, and the Writers Guild of America went on strike.
And in Houston, Buxton rushed to finish its new album, A Family Light — the operative word being rushed. The band’s label at the time faced financial issues, leaving the indie-folk band with a smaller budget and timeline to work with.
But as the label was disassembling the studio around them, Buxton continued to march to the beat of their own drum — literally. After a few self-releases, this was the band’s first record with drums.
“This album was a huge jump from anything we’d released,” singer and guitarist Sergio Trevino says. “It was kind of like starting from a garage-y level and moving into a studio level.”
A Family Light had a small release the following year, getting solid attention in Houston. It attracted the attention of George Fountaine Sr. of New West Records, leading to the band’s deal with the label. Fifteen years later, the album will be re-released by New West’s imprint Strolling Bones Records on Sept. 15, this time on vinyl. Remastered by Chris Longwood, who’s worked with Khruangbin and also hails from Houston, A Family Light revisits a fundamental time for Buxton.
From a band more interested in the feel rather than the technical, the singles out now, “Shake Your Hand” and “Flame,” feel like bittersweet reflections of a past love. And as with any past love, in the lead up to the re-release Buxton’s members are looking back on this album with a little bit of cringe but a lot of pride.
“It’s interesting how good a record you can make when you don’t really know how to make a record,” bassist Chris Wise says. “I think we accidentally made something good, because there are certain songs I’m surprised we had the nerve to write.”
Getting their start in La Porte, Buxton always aimed to push the norm. None of the members are musically trained, which has led them to embrace experimentation throughout the years. For a time, they dabbled with writing songs without choruses.
“There’s something very honest,” Wise says, “about guys making music because they like to.”
“Something I look back on,” Trevino says, “is there’s been a genuine goal to progress — to break convention. And I think sometimes, to a fault, we do things that are maybe not as safe or as conventional.”
However, in the case of A Family Light, he reassures with a laugh, “If you listen to the record, it does have choruses.”
Buxton’s journey since 2007 has taken them all over the country. Over the last decade, they’ve released three more albums and gone on several tours, acquiring fans particularly in Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and, of course, home.
The band, which also includes guitarist Jason Willis, drummer Justin Terrell and guitarist and singer Austin Sepulvado, did their last live show in 2019. While the band never officially broke up, work, life and the pandemic got in the way of performing.
However, the band plans to get back together onstage for the first time in three years at the Continental Club in Houston Sept. 23. At the moment, they don’t plan to do a tour for the re-release, opting instead to celebrate with fans at home.
“We like each other and we want to play shows,” Trevino says, “but we’re all in different places.” Adds Wise: “One show at a time.”
Cover promo photo courtesy Strolling Bones Records