Before ever practicing as a band, writing songs or coming up with a name, Boot Gun had booked a gig. It’s pretty much the opposite of how bands usually get started, but it falls in line with the “Shoot first, ask questions later” motto the group has followed since forming in early 2018.
Back then, guitarist and singer Keith Lawrence and drummer Cody Hart had talked about starting a good old-fashioned rock-and-roll band. Before the two even had a chance to play together, Hart had lined up a gig opening for the New York duo A Shadow of a Jaguar at the Black Buzzard. When the two finally had a chance to play together, Hart roommate Davie Landry heard them practicing, went downstairs and said, ‘Hey, can I play bass? I’m bored.’
The three musicians had fun jamming and showing each other songs they had written; they even came up with a few new ideas right off the bat. By the time that first practice was over, they were thinking world domination. But in the meantime, they had a month to prepare a 45-minute set for their first gig.
And they had to think of a name.
Landry, who’s originally from Dallas, wears a cowboy hat and boots. He always assumed that if he had to have a gun, he'd wear it inside his cowboy boot. He wrote out the words "Boot Gun," and the guys liked the way it looked: It fit with the music they were writing at the time, and it had a little twang but was kind of aggressive, kind of like a Texas Ranger. The bandmates embraced the name, and even had guns tattooed on their ankles.
The only current member without a gun tat is the newest — guitarist Sam Janik, who also sings backup. Landry and Lawrence both see themselves as lead singers, sharing the vocals on some songs, splitting them on others.
Boot Gun’s debut album, Take What You Got, which the band will celebrate with a live-stream concert on Friday, May 15, is a righteous representation of the quartet's brand of high-energy rock and roll.
The album includes a tip of the hat to the Rolling Stones with “Virginia,” which the band also released as a single and a video last year.
“We've all had a Virginia in our lives,” Lawrence says. “Everybody has known of Virginia. And it's something that you always yearn for more. It's a place. It’s a person. It’s a feeling. And the music video for it kind of satisfies a lot of those feelings — just the debauchery nature of living with the pedal to the metal.”
Along with “Feels Like a Storm,” which Boot Gun released as the B-side to “Virginia,” Take What You Got includes three new cuts. Landry says when he wrote the opener, “Hey! Hey!,” he wanted something really catchy with an early-’60s Dave Clark Five/Beatles feel.
The Lawrence-penned “Moose Brain,” inspired by early-’90s acts like Kyuss, shows just how heavy the band can get. The song is about how you can’t see the side of a person who's in the shadows.
“It kind of gives you a different perspective, [helps you] realize that you can start over — like the end is not the end,” Lawrence says. “’It's never too late to start all over again’ is one of the lyrics in the chorus. So it just kind of gives you a second chance. And I guess that's the relationship we have with each other, if we continue to make each other better, build each other up.”
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“Still Life,” a nod to Tom Robbins’s book Still Life With Woodpecker, started off with Landry showing Lawrence a song he’d written over a “cowboy session,” where they were both playing acoustic guitars. As Landry showed him the song, Lawrence played it in a different rhythm, turning the “sad-bastard cowboy song” into something much more rocking.
“Still Life” is the album's final track; Lawrence says it's a song of hope, fueling the fire for the next batch of music.
Take What You Got “shows where we can go and what we do — how the world's our oyster, and there's nothing's going to hold us down," Lawrence concludes. “We're not one type of music. We play hard, and we have a lot of fun. And it just shows the character of Boot Gun, where we're all over the map. That's what we want to be. We don't want to be tied down to one thing.”
Boot Gun will christen its new album at the UMS Presents: Boot Gun Album Release, a live-streamed concert from Silo Sound Studios at 4:55 p.m. Friday, May 15.