[Interview] Festival Profile Series: The Tontons

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Photo credit: Julie Worsham

The Tontons are becoming one of the most buzzed about bands coming out of the Austin indie-rock scene. Having garnered national attention with their February 2014 release Make Out King & Other Stories of Love, the band is playing the gamut of festivals and dates this summer. With lead singer Asli Omar’s charismatic vocals and the band’s excellent abandonment of playing it safe in the indie realm, the Tontons are no doubt coming into their own. The band spoke to Moxipop about their current tour and how they define themselves.

Mxp: You’re making the rounds on festivals this year – Firefly, Free Press Summer Fest, Riverfest – how does it feel to be playing multiple venues in the biggest festival year to date?

Tontons: We have been touring so much that we don’t realize that we are playing these festivals until we get to them. Once we are there it’s super strange being on the same bill as some of these other huge bands but its always a lot of fun.

Mxp: Make Out King & Other Stories of Love was very well-received. What can you attribute its success to?

Tontons: It has been cool that people are liking the record but I couldn’t tell you why. We think the songs are good but we’re probably biased.

Mxp: Coming from Houston’s burgeoning indie scene, what best sets the band apart from the rest?

Tontons: The only thing that sets us apart is our sound. We have a lot of friends in the local scene and we are all trying to accomplish the same things.

Mxp: What’s the transition like playing somewhere like a festival or a string of festivals to then play a more intimate venue?

Tontons: It’s very different, playing a club feels more natural. Usually the shows are later at night and people are prepared to see you where as at a festival its early (especially for us on the lineup) and the crowd is unpredictable. For many of them its their first time seeing us and you never know if they are going to like it or not.

Mxp: The term “indie darlings” gets thrown around often – it seems a little coquettish and kitsch to describe The Tontons. How do you describe yourselves?

Tontons: A Rock & Roll Band

Mxp: Genre-bending is yet another music journalist go-to phrase. Fortunately, in works in your case. How do you speak to claims surrounding that?

Tontons: We get a lot of questions about this and people always expect some amazing answer about our sound but we just play music. We make music that sounds like this. If you swap out band members the music would probably sound much different.

Mxp: Asli Omar has one of the most indelible voices of any modern act. How does her presence contribute to the band?

Tontons: Without her this would be a completely different band.

Mxp: What about your contemporaries playing out there? Who do you dig that’s on your radar?

Tontons: We really like Rhye, Wild Belle, Purling Hiss, St. Vincent and many more.

Mxp: Any final words for anyone coming out to see your shows?

Tontons: If you’re at a show come up and talk to us, we aren’t really that intimidating.

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