Nestled in East Austin sits a row of pastel colored storage units, but they don’t serve the purpose you think.
Open the doors and you’ll find band after band practicing, experimenting and just plain rocking out. A microcosm of Austin’s vibrant music scene, what’s stored here are artists with big ideas and big ambitions.
It’s in this unassuming space that Citygram sat down with Löwin front-woman Sara Houser, to discuss the band’s inception, her musical connection to Fleetwood Mac and how she starts every New Year feeling reflective and refreshed.
The Royal Jelly EP by Löwin is available now.
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Citygram: We’re in Löwin’s studio in East Austin. Do you want to tell us a little bit about the space?
Sara Houser: This is definitely a special, unique space as you guys figured out from trying to work with it. It’s just a big row of storage units. There are lots of bands that use this facility. The Blind Pets are just down the way, Sweet Spirit and Giant Dog are across; it’s a very cool Austin community within a community.
How long have you been rehearsing in this spot?
We’ve rehearsed here for about the last six months. We hopped around, we did Music Lab, we rehearsed in Nate’s (bass) house for a while and this is where his other band, Young Tongue practices as well, so we share this space with about three or four other bands.
You’re a pretty new band, how did you meet and come together?
“I definitely keep a journal. I write
notes on whatever is around me.”
The genesis of Löwin was my former band fizzled out and I had all these songs I was sitting on. I knew I didn’t want to just give up on music, I wanted to still play in bands, so I contacted Chris, he’s an old friend from Boston – we both moved here from Boston – and the two of us started jammin’ through some of the songs that I had, as a two piece. Once it felt really solidified we brought in Nate on bass and Kyle came later. It was a very natural progression of things. We started working through the songs about a year ago, just with me and Chris, and then our first show altogether was in March of 2014.
You went into the studio in the fall of 2014 and now you’re getting ready to release new music this year.
That’s true. We released two singles when we first came out just to have something recorded, but November and December we went back in and wanted to do an actual EP or LP, and that’s what we’ve been working on the last two months. Our release show will be in April but we’ll start releasing songs from it in January 2015.
How do you document things that inspire you? Do you write things down, record things on your phone?
I think I’m the last person on the planet to get an iPhone so I’m still figuring it out but I definitely record demos on my phone quite a bit. I definitely keep a journal. I’m a waitress so I write notes on whatever is around me when I’m at work and keep them. I’m blessed with the memory of an elephant too so I’ve got a lot shoved up here most days, old fashioned way, in my head.
“Best Laid Plans”
Live House Sound Performance
Do you have any new years traditions?
New Year’s day it’s always the usual. Eat black-eyed peas type of thing. I grew up in the Southeast so I come from a very Southern family where that’s the tradition. Honestly New Year’s is kind of weird from me. I actually broke my back on New Year’s when I was 18. So I’m always ready to party and have fun on New Year’s but it’s one day of the year that I really step back and feel thankful to be alive and walking and ready to take on the new year.
How did you break your back?
I was being an idiot and I fell off the side of a house. It’s actually not a very cool story. I totally was fine. I broke three vertebrae but I walked away from it pretty much Scot-free. I didn’t have any repercussions really from it. So kids, don’t be an idiot when you’re 18.
That’s worth celebrating every new years – good health. Always. Everyone love’s toasting to that.
What are some of your favorite venues to see and play music in Austin?
Let’s see. The inside of the Mohawk is the old stomping grounds for me. I’ve played so many shows there. It’s fun when there’s five people, it’s fun when there’s 200 people. It’s just always a fun time. I love Holy Mountain. I love the staff there. Everybody is great. I played there when it was Beauty Bar, which is one of the first gigs I got when I moved to Austin. So it’s nice to go from that and see all the changes that James did and really rework the venue and revamp everything and it’s definitely one of my favorites now. Other than that, I’d say the new Cheer Up Charlie’s also. The inside room has a really cool vibe and aesthetically is really great, it has a great break drop and everything.
You do a lot of hair flips during your shows, what’s one of your favorite hair flips?
I guess I’m more of a side hair flip kind of person. Although I do do the classic Wayne’s World front head-bang every once in a while. At least from what my friends tell me, the Sara move is the diagonal hair-flip.
When things aren’t really working out in your life in one area or another, how do you pause and refresh?
“I’m constantly in my own head.”
I love yoga and that’s probably one reason why I do really like yoga is because I’m constantly in my own head and when things don’t really go my way it can be hard to step outside myself and chill out and realize that everything is going to be okay. I typically get more healthy honestly when things don’t go my way because I realize I need to really take care of myself and focus on what’s important. Other than that, probably get really mad initially, yell, throw a fit and get it out of my system.
Live House Sound Performance
What’s your favorite season in Austin?
Weather wise I love the fall, when we do have a fall, because it’s a little bit cooler and it’s such a nice reprieve from the summers, but Austin is such a summer town. There’s way more to do when it’s hot outside: swimming and watering holes and everybody’s okay with wearing jorts 90% of the year. For recreational things I love the summer, for weather things I love the fall.
Speaking of recreational, what’s your favorite recreational sport?
“I came here for SXSW the spring of my senior year of college and I was like, ‘You know what, this just feels right.'”
I’m from the East Coast and I was really big into surfing for a long time. I was a beach lifeguard for four years and I would just wake up at 8am and go surf for two hours and then work ten hours a day and then, depending on the tide, surf at night, and then go home. Total beach bum. Then I moved up to Boston to go to college and started to get away from the beachy scene and then I moved here. This is probably the most land-locked I’ve ever been but I’m going to take on that barge surfing competition one of these days.
Have you competed before?
No, it was always for fun. I grew up in Charleston for the most part. Florida, and then Charleston. East Coast waves are very hit or miss so it’s not really a prime area for competitions. But we had good hurricane seasons and I’d go out just for the fun of it with all my friends.
Did your family move around a lot?
Sort of. We moved from Florida when I was 10 to South Carolina because of my Dad’s job and then once I graduated high school I got into a college that was in Boston. After college I knew I was going to move somewhere where there was music. It was either New York, but I didn’t want to stay in the Northeast, or L.A. but I didn’t want to go to L.A., and I didn’t want to go to Nashville. I came here for SXSW the spring of my senior year of college and I was like you know what this just feels right. It’s got kind of a southern vibe like what I’m used to, weather’s great and it’s cheap to live here relatively, compared to the Northeast anyway. So I guess I moved a little bit more than a lot of people but less than some.
What’s something you do that people don’t necessarily know about?
I love to cook. I come from a very cooking family. We never ate at restaurants, which is funny because I work in a restaurant now. You will never appreciate home cooking so much until you’re a waitress and then you’ll never want to eat at a restaurant ever again. But yeah, cooking.
I guess a lot of people don’t know me as the beach person that I grew up as, most people when I moved here assumed I was from the northeast
I was born with really red hair. Not a lot of people know that. It got whiter when I got older. Other than that I don’t have a lot of secrets.
I play mostly guitar in Lowin but I was actually a classical pianist for 13 years. That’s what I went to college for. It was my main steeze. And in the last three years I’ve had this glorious love affair with electric guitar. But I don’t play keys a whole lot in live settings anymore. So when I tell people that piano is actually my home base instrument their always surprised.
If I was to look through your record collection what would I find?
If you’re looking through my vinyl it’s mostly old stuff. Lot’s of Stones, Beatles, Neil Young. A lot of it is records I absorbed through my dad who’s a really big classic rock fan. Some jazz, Motown. I love Stevie Wonder. Been all about him for a long time. Just in general in terms of albums and stuff I love Jeff Buckley, more current bands are Queens of The Stone Age, St. Vincent, Feist. I love textures and stories and I love really loud guitars. All of the AC/DC records too. Kind of a little bit of everything. Stuff that hits you when you hear it.
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?
“I love textures and stories and I love really loud guitars. Stuff that hits you when you hear it.”
I don’t really have a problem with it but I also don’t think it’s a big deal. Last Valentines Day was actually a blast. I played a show with another local band called Calliope Musicals and we covered all of Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. I’m actually named after a Fleetwood Mac song. I love that album, it’s one of my favorite albums, just the turmoil and the drama from it. So that was a really fun valentines day because I get to play music and play an album from start to finish that I’ve loved since I was a little kid. In general, I never particularly made it a big deal. I don’t know what my boyfriend and I will end up doing this year, chances are one of us has a show or is on the road or in the studio or something. Will both musicians. But if we’re both free I’m sure we’ll do something romantic.
Which Fleetwood Mac song?
Sara. The story that I was always told, which has varying degrees of truth to it, was that Stevie Nicks had an affair with Don Henley. The story I was told by my mother anyway. She got pregnant and miscarried and Sara was the daughter she would’ve had. My mom was always really affected by the line, “you’re a poet in my heart” and she thought I would always end up being something, if not with writing, something creative. And the fact that it’s her child, somebody that’s close to you. I don’t know obviously how true that story is about Stevie Nicks. I think she recently came out and said it partially was true and partially not. She’s definitely one of my spirit animals so it’s cool to like the person that you’re named for.
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