After years of playing locally amongst themselves and honing the right sound, alt-country trio Izzy Ded & the Existential Dread have begun the journey of Texas troubadours as they hit the road extensively for the first time and put the finishing touches on their first album.
Led by Izzy Ded — the moniker of Caviness-based musician Colton Sanders —the band exhibits a raw and punkish Americana sound while pushing the definition of folk to its limits.
“I love, in music, an atmosphere of sound,” the 32-year-old said while laying down the final touches on their debut album, “What Hurts Most Gets Us Through,” at Ryan Michael’s Denim Diablo Sound in Dallas.
Rounding out the ragtag trio of self-described hombres is guitarist Orrin Vandy, who has performed as a touring guitarist for Pecos & the Rooftops, and drummer Antonio Wagnon, the son of a local proprietor.
With all three coming from different musical pedigrees, Izzy Ded is far from its beginnings as a weird indie band that almost exclusively performed in a bedroom of Sanders’ home.
“I don’t know how I got here, but I’m just always chasing this sound of music in my head,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to make right now.”
Sanders’ first taste of audial nirvana was the amplified distortion of a three-chord band from the land down under and the outlaw twang of country greats, firing neurons that have since molded Sanders into an iconoclastic storyteller.
“Some of my earliest memories are definitely listening to AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ record over and over again with my dad while I was riding back seat,” Sanders said, making sure to note that Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings were also in rotation.
“I grew up basically listening to music on the way to everything,” he said.
After being gifted a Fender Stratocaster guitar on his 14th birthday, Sanders quickly found that writing songs came naturally, leading to multiple attempts to start a band.
“I realized that every time I started learning a song, I would just write one instead, or I would make up something based on what I was learning instead of actually learning the song,” he said. “I’ve pretty much been doing that since then.”
His first band was the Christian metal-core quartet Goodbye Serenity before launching into multiple projects, including punkers Capitan Bugs and the sludge metal trio Inverted Cross.
While none worked out for various reasons, some of which Sanders still tries to forget, the failures taught valuable lessons and led to some of his first moments on a stage outside of Lamar County.
But, like many other local musicians, it was at the urging of local singer-songwriters Wesley Joe Malone and Max Jones that Sanders went from auxiliary player to frontman.
“I was so nervous,” Sanders recalled of his first performance at an open mic. “I had a few too many alcoholic beverages and totally forgot the third verse to one of my favorite songs.”
Certainly not the first to forget song lyrics, Sanders said he had always had trouble performing his songs due to their intricacies, and the open mic flub led to simplifying his songwriting.
“I went home, and, over the next few weeks, kind of stewed on why I couldn’t play any of my songs on an acoustic and sing it,” Sanders said. “I figured if I wanted to be serious about it, I should take it more seriously, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
The simplification led to a twisted blend of psych-country and garage rock ‘n’ roll rooted somewhere between the band’s teenage angst and millennial delusion.
Due sometime this spring on Sanders’ own Death and Texas Records, the 10-track debut features songs resembling the trippiness of Sturgill Simpson and the desert rock of Queens of the Stone Age, while others stay more red dirt in the vein of Zach Bryan and Turnpike Troubadours.
Two of the album’s singles, “All The Good Horses” and “Mama’s Only Child,” have been released and are available on the trio’s Bandcamp page at https://linktr.ee/izzyded.
“Our focus for the last nine months has been rehearsing for this record and then getting it all kind of, like, laid out,” Sanders said. “Now, we’re hitting the road as many weekends as we can.”
The Dread’s next Paris performance is March 25 at DC’s Sunset Lounge, 1734 N. Main St, after the band returns from its first time performing in Austin at an unofficial South by Southwest showcase today.
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