An Interview With the TX-Based Duo OWEN-GLASS On Their Breakout Album and More!
Posted On 07 Aug 2019
On May 10th, the Texas-based duo Owen-Glass released their debut album, “The Rope & The Rabbit.” “Saint” was the first track released from this collection. Illuminated by an electric violin solo, this song is soaring and psychedelic, taking listeners on a journey through the complexities of standing your ground as an individual while serving as a reminder of the strength that comes with owning who you are and having the courage to live life according to your own personal truth.
From the Piney Woods of East Texas, singer-songwriter Kelly Wayne Conley and his trusty sidekick, guitar prodigy Cole Humphrey, are having fun and making a splash with their indie folk rock project Owen-Glass. In a highly saturated indie rock market, Owen-Glass stands out not only with its smart lyrics and tight harmonies, but also with its textured soundscapes and crazy multi-instrumental solos. Wild rock violin, big alto saxophone, ‘70s-style keys and electric mandolin are held together with a master rhythm section comprising of Conley, David Beck and Dees Stribling.
Their debut album The Rope & The Rabbit was produced and engineered by David Beck, mixed by Beck, Conley and James Campbell at Cibolo Studios in San Antonio, TX, and mastered by Evan Bradford (The Avett Brothers, Dierks Bentley, Dawes) of Mixtown USA in Los Angeles, CA.
Of working with Conley, Bradford says:“I truly enjoyed working on his music and am honored to have been a part of this album. I personally find it difficult to box music into really specific genres, but I also feel that the best songs and albums don’t necessarily fit into a nice little box, and this definitely falls into that category for me. There is clearly a theme and concept that threads the whole album together, and I love how it speaks to me.”
Growing up in gospel-rich East Texas has no small influence on Conley’s writing style and harmony-driven vocal arrangements, as heard in “Devil Don’t Mind,”an Americana-Gospel folk track appearing third on the album. In studio, Conley recruited his own mother, Donna Conley, and his aunt, Stacy Caldwell of the 1980s East Texas gospel trio The Armstrong Sisters to provide backing vocals. In all, Owen-Glass produces a mysterious and intriguing sound, providing a little something for everyone while maintaining a cohesive character and a rare and refreshing authenticity that leaves fans wanting more.
Connect with Owen-Glass Here- Website
Learn more about Owen-Glass in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day for you both?
Kelly: Absolutely, any time. Hopefully sleep is on tap at some point. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, so to speak, so I’m hoping for some time to relax, maybe play my guitar and get in bed early.
Cole: I’m with Kelly on this one, definitely looking to catch up on some rest, probably watch something on Netflix with my wife and attempt to get some good rest.
Now that we are in the 8th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What are some goals that you have for this year? How close are you to reaching them?
Kelly: It’s been an exciting few months, for sure. We finally got our album out!
Cole: Yes we did, and I couldn’t be happier.
Kelly: Me neither. In terms of goals, I think the rest of my year in music is dedicated to building out our fan experience and working up a live show. We want everything we do to complement nicely and to be fun for people. That’s an ongoing process. We also have a couple videos we’re releasing that we had a blast with, so those releases are on the horizon as well. Beyond that, I think we both plan to do quite a bit of writing.
Cole: Exactly, we are trying to build and maintain momentum around the project and doing that involves so much more than just saying “here’s the music, please listen.” And yes to the writing. I think we both are starting to get creative fever.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this band together? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far? How did you come up with your name?
Kelly: For me, working with Cole is second nature. We’ve been playing together for a long time. The process of building out our lineup for this album was really cool though. We brought so much talent together—guys we were huge fans of, even—so working with people you look up to, you know, it’s really rewarding.
Cole: Yep I don’t think there was necessarily a moment, it was going to happen one way or another, just timing really. And I was surprised how effortlessly the album came together from rehearsal to final takes, it’s a testament to the quality of musicianship and character each member of this project has.
Kelly: The name provides some cover, professionally, and it fits together with some of the issues I talk about all the time. And, not to dodge the question, but I don’t want to give away the full meaning just yet.
Cole: My lips are sealed.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you both carry yourselves in this band?
Kelly: I think our East Texas roots are where the country/Americana slant comes from, inadvertently. Also, I started playing gospel as a kid in the church, so that comes through as well. Grand Saline actually has a pretty healthy music environment, for a small mining town, come to think of it. Lots of great songwriters and musicians for sure. Probably because it’s such a boring place.
Cole: Haha yes, it is a slow-moving and boring place, which I love about it.
Why would you say that you two work so well together? Where is one of you weak where the other is strong and vice-versa? Why does this duo work?
Cole: Kelly has a very active mind and is constantly coming up with new and exciting ideas. We understand each other very well and I think together we refine those ideas into something exciting. Iron sharpens iron sort of thing.
Kelly: Yeah, and musically speaking, Cole is awesome at filling space, and my strength lies more in creating that space and trying to keep it interesting. For me, it’s about creating a vessel to contain the more free-flowing style Cole and Eric have, and mold that into a compelling composition.
Congrats on recently releasing your debut album, “The Rope & The Rabbit.” What does that feel like? How did you celebrate the collection?
Cole: With drinks of course!
Kelly: Thanks, yeah, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted, to be honest. This album was recorded in June of 2018, so the term release has taken on a whole new meaning for me.
Cole: Agreed. After working so long on something it’s a major relief to have it finally wrapped up and finished. It’s liberating.
How do you think “Saint” prepared listeners for the rest of your debut collection?
Kelly: “Saint” really showcases everyone’s ability well. Thematically, it also made a lot of sense to put it out early. As one writer from Incubator pointed out, it’s at one extreme of our style, while “Devil Don’t Mind” is at another. Everything else pretty much falls between those two.
What was the inspiration for “Saint”? What are some of your other favorite songs on this album?
Kelly: That tune developed over a couple years, so there’s a lot packed into it. It’s all about feeling out-of-place in a world gone mad. Since I initially wrote it, the world has gotten crazier and crazier, and I’m feeling more-and-more out of place. So it’s already aging well.
In terms of other tracks, they all have their place within the album, but let’s see… It’s not one we put out front, but I really like “The Rope.” The instrumentation and harmonies are really symphonic and beautiful. David put the accordion in there, and it just put that song over the top for me. It also contains some of my favorite imagery on the record and it dissolves into this dreamy spiral of noise that’s just awesome. It resolves the album well and flows right back into “Rabbit Hole,” which was my vision for it.
Cole: I agree, but to give a different answer I really love “Paper Chains.” 90% of the song is one big live take of the whole band playing together. That was fun.
Kelly: Oh, “Paper Chains,” for sure.
Where do you think you are both happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Cole: I love it all, but for me it would be writing and creating, it doesn’t get much better than watching words on paper, or a little idea or melody, turn into something really substantial.
Kelly: Yeah, I’d have to agree. It’s all fun, but the creative process is really fulfilling.
What has been a favorite show of yours to date? What do you think makes an ideal performance for this band? Where are you excited to play at next?
Kelly: It’s funny, we get that question a lot. We haven’t had a chance to play live with this project, so that remains to be seen I guess. I have some ideas for our show, we just need the right venue and crowd to make it all work. We’re not a traditional band touring around, playing college bars on weeknights or whatever. We all have other things going—families, careers, other music projects—so we have a freedom with music and with our plans to play live that a lot of touring bands don’t get to experience. And I think it’s a good model for us.
Cole: It’s just waiting for the stars to line up. It’s coming, we just need all the conditions to be right.
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
Kelly: Putting this project together and actually cutting and releasing these tracks has been really freeing for me. Before, I felt a lot of pressure when I was writing, but now I’m more comfortable with the whole production process, I’ve gotten some sticky songs through the pipeline and I just… it feels good.
Cole: It’s validating to see this project all the way through to completion, it’s been a big learning experience and now I can’t wait to see what we will make next.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
Kelly: There are definitely a lot of political themes going on in the record. More than anything, I write about rejecting the whole damn thing. It’s all a scam, and, not to be hyperbolic, but we’re allowing a bunch of psychopaths to control our perception of reality. That’s really how I see it. Everything is a political issue, when truly nothing should be. Our culture is infected with this belief that government has a place in every decision we make. I really hope more people will start to reconsider that idea and choose to take responsibility for their own lives, and invest in their families and communities. Ultimately, that’s what it’ll take.
Cole: There’s no way I could say it any better than that, enough said.
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this duo?
Kelly: It kind of depends on the project, because we have lots of ideas for future albums that would require different types of collaborators, but I would definitely say Thom Yorke, Jack White, and Jay Joyce would be dream collaborators for me.
Cole: My answer to that changes like the Texas weather, but I’d say Sturgill Simpson, Kevin Parker…David Byrne would be out of this world.
Where would you love to hear your music being played? A TV show, a movie, in your favorite store, etc…?
Cole: Definitely a movie or show. I think film has a strong claim to being the best artistic medium because it encapsulates nearly all of it. So I think, if done right, it could add a whole new emotional aspect to the music.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Kelly: I hope people find it meaningful. Everyone who hears it will have their own interpretation, and I hope they get something out of it. I’m not all that interested in music with no intellectual backbone or philosophy behind it. I also don’t want to tell people what to think, or at least I try not to. I want people to feel empowered and encouraged to explore ideas, and hopefully they’ll draw conclusions that are ethically and morally defensible.
Cole: Reckon. I hope people will be able to apply it to their life in some significant way, be it thought-provoking, relaxing, raging, wallowing, whatever it may be. It’s made to be experienced.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about your music?
Kelly: Just that it’s out there and available. Get some ears on it. Buy it. Share it around. It’s good stuff. We have a cool culture and community taking shape with our small group of fans, and we want more people to become a part of what we’re doing.
Cole: If you’re already a listener then thank you so much, and if not we hope you’ll give us a chance. You’re one of the awesome people who reads music interviews.