Slobberbone's hard-driving, rootsy rock is a satisfying musical treat. 

Something to Gnaw On

Brent Best paints a bleak picture of the Denton, Texas, music scene that spawned his band, Slobberbone, in the mid-'90s. Even though Denton is a college town, there were few clubs and even fewer bands playing anything he was interested in hearing. Aspiring groups took their music to local parties or the greasy spoon, plugged in and let it rip. Best and his buddies figured they could join the fray.

"It was really just kind of a joke," he says with self-effacing laughter. "There were mostly bad white-boy funk bands. …We were completely different. It was always this sort of loud, rootsy rock."

Fueled by influences ranging from Soul Asylum to the Long Ryders, Slobberbone loosely organized in 1992. Best's original tunes filled out the band's set list from the beginning. "We weren't good enough to play other people's songs," he explains.

As it turns out, the four-man band has never needed to play other people's music. The group's recently released CD, "Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today," is filled with hard-rocking original tunes that range from tough to thoughtful. There are plenty of overdrive guitar lines that build with anthemlike muscle, as well as acoustic guitars and mandolin. Wrap the musical elements around Best's tuneful look at life's highs and lows and you've got a recording that jumps with raw energy. Slobberbone brings its loose-and-loud brand of rock to Poe's Pub on Tuesday, Aug. 15, opening for longtime friends The Drive-By Truckers.

In his early songwriting days, Best wrote for the acoustic guitar. But he discovered his tunes worked equally well for the emerging band. "I had all of these damn songs … and what's the difference?" Best says. "It quickly became my favorite way to present my songs. At some point, it all kind of became the same for me [and] I'm not worried about coming across as rock or folk."

Slobberbone became a full-time adventure in 1996 when Best, drummer Tony Harper and bass player Brian Lane solidified into a serious core. Two independent CDs later, guitarist Jess Barr settled in on lead guitar. The band members have an understanding about responsibilities that Best is comfortable with — as many musicians know, too much democracy in a band can be bad.

"Ninety-eight percent of everything that takes place happens unspoken," he says. "It becomes a freedom. …You can dispense with the stupid little stuff."

Whatever the formula, Slobberbone is heading in the right direction, playing venues from coast to coast. The band is opening its sound up and stretching in new ways. But Best notes that he's covered in case the band's days are numbered. With a degree in film, he could always plunge into those uncertain waters.

"Yeah," he says with wry sarcasm. "I've got an equally useless career path if I decide not to be in a band."


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