"It was a long time ago," says David Nichols over the phone. "I was playing in a band called Time to Fly, and I started writing songs that didn't really fit with that band. When I left that band, Tex started, because it was a way of getting those songs out there."
Nichols has been involved in more or less direct ways with the local indie-rock scene for almost a decade. Time to Fly, the band he was in before Tex, achieved a certain degree of notoriety in these parts for a sound that fit neatly into the pocket of emotionally-direct indie rock that had really begun to blossom. Beds of driving guitars supported sensitive vocals; in retrospect, Time to Fly's early ‘00s timestamp is very evident. Nichols found that the folk-inflected, downcast pop songs he was writing on his own couldn't quite fit into that mold.
In 2006, Nichols released his first album as Tex, The Angels Came to Take Me Home. A certain gloom hangs over the record in shrouds, as each song takes on either a sad-sack resignation or a bitterly stubborn stomp. When the clouds part and a sunny hook pops through, there's still a sadness looming in the lyrics. Tex didn't release another album until just last year.
"We put out that full-length in 2006, and I started drinking a lot around then," says Nichols. "In 2008, I got sober. ... We kind of unintentionally (took a hiatus). I spent that time trying to get myself back together and get sober and get my life in order. Music was put on a back burner. It wasn't something intentional. I didn't decide, ‘OK, I'm gonna not play music for a few years while I get sober and while I get my life figured out.' It just kind of happened that way."
In the time since The Angels Came to Take Me Home, Nichols not only got his life together, but had a son, who is now 3 years old. Now, Tex's first release in years, an EP called You May Not Follow, shows a not insubstantial difference in tone and direction.
"It seems like the older I get, the more poppy and lighthearted the songs get," says Nichols. "When I started, they were really heavy and really depressing. Not something you'd really put play on a sunny afternoon, walking down the waterfront. ... I have a more positive outlook on life now. I have a son, and he brings a lot of joy to my life."
There's a track on Tex's You May Not Follow, called "Wake Up," that sounds like the transformation Nichols is describing. Its first half lurches in minor key, disrupted by sounds of breaking glass, almost like one of Brian Wilson's more troubling ruminations. Near the end, it finds its footing in a warm groove that rights all of the early, shaky uncertainty. This same feeling may be found in Tex, and in Nichols himself.
with Canon Canyon, Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray, Library
Thursday, Oct. 6, 9 p.m., $5
The New Frontier Lounge, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma