Photography by Andrew Zeiter
Back in November I was in Austin for a different festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest, where I first met Asli Omar and the guys from The Tontons. At the time, the four piece blues-y rock group from Houston was riding a wave of publicity en route to their breakthrough project, Make Out King and Other Love Stories, a harrowing 11-song project that puts forward the young band’s strengths both vocally and in building complex, attention-grabbing tracks that have launched them from their native Houston and brought them back to the annual business card emporium that is South By Southwest. Back in November the squad of Omar, Tom Nguyen and Justin and Adam Martinez were hungry, eagerly anticipating the release of their project, Make Out King which dropped soon afterwards on February 18 of this year. Anticipating a big jump in notoriety, the world offered up some obstacles after their drummer, Justin, fell ill with a bad appendix that landed him in the hospital for two weeks, arriving in Austin straight from his stay there, a literal hole still in his side. Rock N’ Roll. Anyway, it’s obvious the music world has taken The Tontons in directions they would have never expected, and a bit of the frustration was evident in talking to them this time around. Through it all though, The Tontons have an innately upbeat spirit that makes even them jokingly talking about being jaded seem like being on the outside of an inside joke. They play great and make music that transcends radio trends or falsified public relations campaigns. The Tontons are the band you come to SXSW to see, and I was lucky enough to get a few minutes of their time before they played the Big Picture Media Showcase at The Thirsty Nickel to see how everyone was doing and where the ship is headed in 2014.