Travis "Tex" Kerschen, the functional leader of the Houston band Indian Jewelry, doesn't make it easy on interviewers. "The members of Indian Jewelry, most especially Tex Kerschen, who I interviewed, have developed a reputation for being difficult to interview, for giving evasive, dubious answers," wrote Houston Press's Olivia Flores Alvarez in her introduction to a Q&A with Kerschen in 2006. "It's nice to know that some things never change."
Two years later and Kerschen still doesn't deliver especially direct or expansive responses. (See below.) But Indian Jewelry's music has gotten quite a bit more expansive, in scope and sound, on the new album Free Gold!, which will be released on May 20. The band's previous work, on the albums Invasive Exotics and We Are the Wild Beast and a series of CD-Rs, singles, and splits, was cold, sometimes even robotic. "Swans," the new single from Free Gold!, begins with a burst of warm, feedback-drenched guitar, followed by an unintelligible, incantatory vocal, and slowly builds into a bright, dense climax of rhythm and melody. "Temporary Famine Ship" hums with a primitive rhythm and sharp squalls of guitar.
Indian Jewelry grew out of the Swarm of Angels, a loose collective of musicians and artists that has been central to a community of noise and experimental rock groups in Houston. Here's an e-mail exchange with Kerschen about the new record and the band's history.
What's the line-up for this tour? Who's doing what?
Depends where you're seeing us. Erika Thrasher is with us. Brandon Davis is with us. Andrew was with us. Donna Huanca was with us. Rosalinda was with us. I am with us. We are all licensed professionals.
Free Gold! is out in a couple of weeks. Can you tell me about writing and recording it?
Our records get made like pyramids get made—a lot of secrets and a lot of slaves.
From the tracks I've heard, Free Gold! seems different from Invasive Exotics—less clanky and metallic sounding. Not exactly conventionally pretty, but less abrasive. "Swans" is a big, epic track. Was this is a conscious decision or just part of the way you guys approach writing an album? Is the current set list heavy on Free Gold! songs?
We were very careful and conscientious while making the record. At all times. We're playing a lot of these songs.
You've seemed pretty disillusioned with the music industry. Has any of that changed? Is being out on the road still as difficult as it has sounded for you? Is it masochistic or a sacrifice worth making for the music?
The bastards have all grown worse while we've just gotten better. Touring is a good life compared to that of a slave.
More dates scheduled after the release of Free Gold!?
We hope it will be a busy year and we hope we are Africa bound.
Can you tell me a little about the evolution from Swarm of Angels to Indian Jewelry? Is that an ongoing process?
The path to truth is infinite. We, on the other hand. keep coming up short.
How do you guys feel about the "noise" tag? Does it help define a particular scene or create artificial boundaries? Do you think it fits what you do?
We do love noise and many of them that make it. But we, for good or bad, are a rock band. We love boogie. It's in our blood.