Written by: Christina Lopez
Images from The Jibs website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
The strum of an out-of-tune guitar ricocheted off the grimy walls in Austin’s Hole in the Wall bar. Lead singer, Will Clark, fumbled to the microphone and cleared his throat. “Hi, we’re The Jibs,” he began, “and uh…we’re gonna play some songs for you.”
The Jibs are an indie/alternative band composed of four UT freshmen. Will Clark, lead vocalist and guitarist, is from Dallas, Texas, and majoring in Journalism. Caden Westmoreland, guitarist/keyboardist and Engineering major, and Roman Parnell, bassist and Psychology major, are both from Tyler, TX. Eric Schueler is both a drummer and an English major, from Burleson, TX.
After only six months together, the band has released a self- titled album, including their two singles, “I’ve Been Low” and “Twisted Game,” and had more than seven major performances at venues like Mohawk in Austin and Adair’s Saloon and Bar in Dallas.
The band met and began playing music in late August, but Westmoreland and Parnell had already been playing together in their hometown for over a year. “Roman and I have been doing music together since fall of 2015, in basements and stuff, and we started recording music in my bedroom,” Westmoreland said.
On their first day in Austin after moving in, Parnell and Westmoreland decided to attend a meeting for the Sailing Club. There, they met Will Clark, who was coincidentally seeking people to play music with.
“We randomly met at the Sailing Club,” Clark said. “I saw Roman and I was like ‘This guy has got to play music,’ and we just started talking about the bands we liked and started jamming.”
Consequently, the three never returned to the Sailing Club again. However, they did name their band after a type of sail: a jib.
All that was missing was a drummer, but they soon met Schueler over Facebook.
“It’s funny, I still feel like I’m auditioning every time I play,” Schueler joked.
After the band was complete, the whirlwind of The Jibs’ journey began. Within a month, the band recorded and released their first single, “I’ve Been Low.”
“It all came together so fast,” Westmoreland said. “All of a sudden we had 5 or 6 songs, and we just immediately went in the studio and recorded them. The single was recorded the week before we went on Thanksgiving Break.”
“I’ve Been Low” is a bluesy song with a catchy chorus, witty lyrics, and an old-school feel balanced with modern alternative elements. “That was probably the most ‘everyone’s-stirring-up-the-pot’ kind of song,” Clark said. “Everyone had a section that they made their own, which is pretty cool.”
Parnell agreed that their first single reflects the input from all the band members, written in a single rehearsal among the four of them. “We sat down in the studio and all created it,” Westmoreland said. “We had some chords and a little bit of melody ideas but we, as a band, just flushed it out and put our own instruments behind it and suddenly, it was a song.”
The band describes their music as classic rock and with bluegrass influences, fused with indie-alternative rock. Their sound is influenced by artists such as Austin-native Gary Clark Jr., Tame Impala, The Black Keys, and The Districts.
“It’s hard to give it one genre, though,” Parnell said. “It has a lot of influences from a lot of different genres and you can hear them all in certain songs.”
Their sound wasn’t planned, but just happened, according to Westmoreland.
“When we started out, it looked like we were going to make blues rock,” he said. “You can’t really sit down and decide what kind of music you’re going to make, though. You just sit down and make music and go with whatever just comes out. I think the more you make, the more specific and specialized you can get.”
That’s the ultimate goal for the group right now: to make more music. “The way I see it, right now we’re just taking it day by day and staying afloat, playing music and keeping an eye on the future but slowly moving towards it,” Clark said. “We still have to improve. The goal is to just keep writing and playing music for as long as we can.”
However, being a rising band in Austin can prove just as challenging as it is rewarding.
“The problem with Austin is that there’s a huge community of musicians, and the market is so saturated,” Westmoreland said. “It’s about trying to find a way to stand out against the thousands of local bands just as good as us.”
Clark said living in the “Live Music Capital of the World” is both a blessing and a curse. “It’s a blessing to be in an environment that values music as much as it does,” he said. “Then again, there’s a lot of people trying to do the exact same thing that we’re doing and there’s just not enough spots.”
Despite the obstacles, The Jibs are ready to take on whatever twists and turns the journey has for them. “We don’t really have our expectations super high because we are so new, so any opportunity that we’re getting is really lucky for us,” Westmoreland said.
“You have to believe it in yourself before other people believe in you.”
Westmoreland’s goal was to play at Mohawk by the end of his college career. The Jibs played Mohawk on February 5th , and had a successful turnout, with at least forty people there specifically to see them. “I think we have a good perspective to know we accomplished a goal,” Parnell said. “But that’s not the only goal to keep. We have to keep aspiring higher.”
“I don’t think we’ve achieved any great success yet,” Clark said. “But we’ve definitely had a lot of little successes, very quickly. That’s the exciting part.”