Austin-based psych rockers, Annabelle Chairlegs are back with a new supply of soundscapes. Taking a departure from the sunny poolside vibes of Watermelon Summer, the group dives into murkier waters with their latest album, Gotta Be in Love.
Freshly out of college, vocalist Lindsey Mackin carried the idea of Annabelle Chairlegs into existence after moving into the area back in 2013. About a year later, she started throwing house shows to familiarize herself with Austin's local DIY community. Over the years, the group continued to take part in the supportive community and quickly gained notoriety within the psychedelic underground. Mackin's Joplin-esque vocals and shimmery guitar chords are quite captivating and really stand out on tracks like "Axe Me if I Care" and "King of the Future".
After recording their debut album in their home studio, the A.C. came together after a few lineup changes in 2017 to record Gotta Be in Love. Being an independent artist definitely comes with its fair share of struggles and Mackin and the boys weren't spared in this case. A lack of band funds and the constant quest to find a trustworthy label paused the release time for their newest project, but the wait has been well worth it.
Gotta Be in Love has gotta be their heaviest release yet.
Set to drop on September 1st, the project is self released and will be their first physical record. Give yourself a taste by tuning into the group's latest music video for their single, "Outside".
I had the opportunity to catch up with Lindsey back in July while she's away from Austin, visiting family out in NY.
Here's what she had to say:
Q: When did Annabelle Chairlegs come together as a band?
A: So I went to college in Santa Fe, New Mexico and moved to Texas with some bandmates from another band I was in. Once we moved to Austin in 2013, I started Annabelle Chairlegs with some of my old bandmates and friends from college.
After about a year, we kind of got booted out of our house because there were alot of changes going on in Austin. They all decided to move elsewhere, mostly back to Santa Fe, so I just decided to keep up with the project and started playing with some new people. There’s been a couple of transitions since then. As of now, it’s three of us. I’ve been playing with our current bassist Derek for about six years, so he’s been around for awhile and our drummer Billy has been with us for over three years now.
Q: Would you consider your newest project, Gotta Be in Love, to be your debut album?
A: Well, it’s our second full length album. Our debut album, Watermelon Summer, was released back in April 2015, so it’s been a little while There was a bit of a hold up because we lost a drummer, spent time recording again, you know there was another transition. So there’s been a lot of dragging my feet with the release and trying to get it all sorted.
For a while we were trying to shop it around and get some label support because we didn’t really have the money to put it out ourselves. I guess we were finally able to save and get friends to invest a little bit so we could work together to put it out. It took a while since we recorded the new album back in 2017.
Q: When you initially started making music before your first album, what drove you to create a new blend of psychedelic rock?
A: I think it was just a mix of everything. In college, I was studying musical theater. I was doing that for a while and I guess it wasn’t really doing it for me. I didn't really feel like I fit into that world. Then I started playing in this dirt-pop punk band and that inspired me to really wanna learn how to play guitar and start writing songs.
Ya know, the first album is sort of dreamy, desert-like while this next record is a lot heavier and a bit darker which takes a lot of inspiration from the Austin music scene and peers we come across.
Q: What was that DIY scene in Austin like when you first started out?
A: It was awesome, I mean it still really is, but it’s moved around and changed quite a bit. I was really surprised when I moved from Santa Fe since there wasn’t a really big music scene out there when I played in a band. We’d play shows with a metal band one night and a country band the next. It seemed like there was only one band for every genre.
So once we got to Austin, there were so many bands and I was surprised by how kind and welcoming everyone was. They were all willing to put shows together and throw house shows. It was just a very warm and supportive community ya know, it was very easy to make that transition.
Q: Was it easy to host house shows out there, the authorities didn’t really mind much?
A: Well, yeah exactly. At first, I had moved with my bandmates and we had no friends, no sense of what was even going on locally. So we got to Austin in like June and by March we were like, “Okay it’s SXSW and we don’t know much about the scene here so why don’t we just throw some house shows and invite people to come so we could make friends”.
I feel like that’s how we really met a lot of different people, because we were just so down and starving to understand the music scene. I don’t know Austin’s kind of cool in that way, we’ve met a bunch of people just throwing house shows which usually worked out. It was never really a problem which was good.
Q: Are you optimistic in the future of Austin’s DIY scene once/if the pandemic settles down.
A: I was recently in and out of thinking about that and I actually do have this positive sense or excitement. I mean it’s sad that a lot of our favorite venues will probably close, but I think when things like this happen people feel inspired to do something else. I think that’ll actually contribute a lot to the DIY scene and have more community oriented, safe vibes for everybody. I think it’ll be a really renewing time for everybody. With that said, I hope.
Q: After playing in that scene, what was the first festival you performed?
A: We started throwing house shows since we couldn’t really get any other shows. We’d just be like, “Okay there’s all these bands coming that we know of and we could just get them to play our house”. I remember Austin Psych Fest in 2014, we didn’t really know anyone so we threw a pre-party a day before. It was a big house party with like twelve bands.
We started meeting more people that way and then in 2016 we got asked to play Levitation. That ended up being the year it was cancelled, because of rain or something. Everybody was really sad and then it didn’t even rain that weekend, so everybody sort of came together and started throwing more house shows while venues made bills.
We always liked the house shows and then the festivals were always a crazy opportunity to where we were like, “wait really... they want us to play", but yeah all that came a little later.
Q: How did you all record your album, Watermelon Summer?
A: So for about six years, we lived in this two house complex. The guitar player at the time lived in the front house with a guy who did visuals and then I lived in the back with the bassist and drummer. We actually just recorded it all in the front house on a digital 8-track, so we could have some material for the tour. It was all kind of a fast paced whirlwind trying to get the songs rehearsed and recorded before we left on tour.
Q: Did you go through some sort of label to release that EP?
A: No not at all. So it’s a full length record that we didn’t end up getting pressed onto vinyl. We just recorded it and I got like tapes done and I made some CDs and they literally arrived the day we were going on tour. I also had a music video that we put out during that same time, so yeah, we just put out there and hoped for the best. Ya know, people were still really responsive and liked it, so it’s been good.
Q: So was the recording process pretty similar for your latest album, in a home studio?
A: We recorded that one in Cacophony Studios, which is a spot pretty close to our house and that’s actually where a lot of our friends recorded, like Holy Wave and the Black Angels.
Eric, the engineer is really awesome, so we did a few free days with the people there and his studio felt comfortable and nice. This time around was definitely more of a full studio experience which was kind of tough since we were like, “alright we can only afford a few days, so we gotta do what we can in this amount of time” which is tricky.
Spenser:Yeah and you have someone else doing all the mixing and mastering.
Lindsey: Yeah totally, it’s a whole other thing where you’re like, “I hope they can get the vision or the vibe”. You know, I think Eric did. The record is more of our live style, but definitely more high end which is cool because that has a time and place.
Q: How did you get involved with Violetville Records?
A: So that’s actually just me (laughs). My friend Alex and I play together in a band called Rainy Decades and one day she was just like, “what’s up with your album like why aren’t you putting it out” and I was like, “ I don’t know. Nobody has money and I can’t get any labels to even look at my email or press on my links”.
So she was just like, “Why don’t we just do it ourselves” and I was like, “yeah maybe we could just call it a label an eventually if we’re putting stuff out we could put a little bit of money from all the releases that we do and try to help other people too” because it’s just impossible on your own, well kind of ya know.
So yeah, it’s kind of an umbrella collective for creative people, but it’s still sort of in the early stages of figuring out how to pull that off and start putting money into it.
Q: Overall, have you been able to stay creative with everything going on lately? Is it strange to be releasing an album this year?
A: Yeah it’s definitely been strange to put the album out and people might say I kind of released it at a bad and weird time. Regardless, it got to the point where we recorded it so long ago and I really wanted to share it with people. I also think music can really help in these situations and I tried thinking of ways to give back with what we’re doing.
In terms of being a creative, it’s been very weird. You’d think, “okay shit I can’t work right now, like I have to go on unemployment so I’ll have all the time in the world to work on music. Then there’s all this dread and anxiety”. I feel like I’ve had a lot of in and outs. Some weeks, I feel like I can’t do anything. Even for close to a month, I feel like I wasn’t super creative and then I’d have these moments of creative clarity. It’s definitely been a weird time, but I’m starting to come around again from a creative rut.
Have you been feeling that way too? Have ya been bugging out or working lately?
Spenser: Yeah at first everything seemed a bit crazy and I was hit with a lot of anxiety, but I came to the idea that this time could act as a new renaissance for my generation. During the original Renaissance, the Bubonic plague caused a lot of people to stay inside and pursue alternate modes of living and thinking. A bunch of virtuosos rose up at this point, so I think people could do that in this digital era but at the same time all this new technology is an escape.
Lindsey: Yeah it’s all too crazy, I feel like it’s getting out of control. People are just stuck on their phones like, “alright what can I fucking say online today”. It’s just too much, but you’re totally right. You have such a cool and fascinating point.
As a creative, you really have to find your own way away from it all. I’ve really been trying to work on that lately. I’ve been like, “Okay fuck this I’ll promote what I need to, but I can’t contribute to this bad energy”.
Spenser: For sure. At the same time, one of my favorite things to think about lately is that technology or media is a tool that we can use as a form of connection, but a lot of people isolate themselves and it creates a lack of connection. I really believe if people understood the true power of connection and the collective energy of media, there could be positive changes all around.
Lindsey: I mean yeah you’re totally right about that, even just using technology to spread the word about things. There are amazing progressive things that can be done online, making connections. Even you reaching out to me, like I’ve made a lot of friends on Facebook that end up actually becoming friends around me, like I’ll start seeing them while I’m on tour. It’s pretty incredible, but yeah it’s really about finding a balance in all that. Not getting sucked into it while embracing the positivity of it.
Q: What are you most excited about in terms of your bands’ future?
A: I really love playing shows, so I hope we can eventually play shows again. I mean I don’t just live for shows, but I really enjoy them. I don’t know, maybe just investing more time into recording and being more open to experimenting with things and collaborating with other people.
It’s kind of nice to take a step back and not overwork yourself and just think about why you do the things you do and how it impacts your mind and your health and how you can change it or be more positive.
I’m looking forward to finding a clear scope and outlook on the positive opportunities that’ll come out of all this.