David Beck and Paul Cauthen are careful in sharing the real-life details behind the love-gone-bad title track to their upcoming album Burning Days, spitting out fractured details like “love triangle gone all wrong,” “throes of passion” and “one badly broken relationship.”
The gist of it goes like this: the Austin songwriters who perform as Sons of Fathers were housesitting at a friend’s luxurious, 3,000 square foot lakefront home in the summer of 2011 when romantic entanglements developed between the pair and a couple staying at the house with them.
“That made us homeless pretty quick, and we didn’t have anywhere to live for seven months,” Beck, 24, says of the ordeal. “We went from having a maid in this beautiful place, granite kitchentops and everything, to being forcefully ejected and having no place to live. We’d go out on the road and do shows and have absolutely nothing to come home to. As a band, people were starting to hear us and from the outside it looked like we were doing pretty well, but we were crashing on different people’s couches every night.”
While the friends have since settled into a house in east Austin, they won’t be seeing much of home in 2013 as they trek across the country to give audiences an early listen to the wide-open roots and folk rock from their album, produced by country music veteran Lloyd Maines, the father of the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines.
Highlighted by near-constant two-part harmonies, the Sons of Fathers’ songs bring elements of the Everly Brothers to a sound that’s proved popular in recent years with bands like the Lumineers, the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. Cauthen said he and Beck were conscious of being compared to those bands, but didn’t shy away from their own instincts as songwriters when they started writing the followup to their 2011 debut.
“It’s kind of a blessing, actually, that the market has shown our kind of thing works,” said Cauthen, 26. “I’m not ever going to want to be ‘this band’ or ‘that band,’ because our whole goal was to be our own band, and when we started writing together it was like there was a third party in the room. It’s like we were forced into it by some outside presence.”
At first the pair come off as a study in opposites, with the tall and lanky Beck playing the quiet, straightlaced counterpart to the ever-boisterous and generously proportioned Cauthen. On stage, though, their personalities bleed together, with Beck dancing with (and eventually dry-humping) his standup bass while Cauthen gets introspective and somber on songs like “Selfish Mind” and “Roots & Vine.”
Maines said Beck and Cauthen’s songs stood up on their own when he heard the 32 demo tracks they’d recorded. His biggest role was picking out the 10 that made the album, and shaping the beginnings and endings of some tracks to have more impact.
“The harmonies they have are the thing that stand out right away, because of that Everly Brothers approach they have in the way they come together,” he said. “I was amazed that they’d get these intricate vocal parts right away, and after maybe three takes they’d have it so there was no warts on any of it.”
With the album slated for an early April release on the band’s Blanco River Music label, Cauthen has embraced a “conquer the world” attitude for the coming months of touring and promotion with his bandmate and comrade. That wasn’t always the case – when they first met three years ago while vying for shows at a new nightclub just south of Austin, he viewed Beck as an adversary.
“I hated him because he was hustling for shows just as hard as I was, but then I saw him play and it was like, ‘Fuck, can that guy play bass. I wanna play with him,'” Cauthen said. “Plus he’s kind of a cocky son of a gun. I liked that, and once I got to know him I knew that we’d get along just fine.”