FLYER Q&A: Good Looks’ debut album speaks to the times and sparks connections

The band plays at Smoke & Barrel Tavern on Sunday, June 18 with Fayetteville's Meadow Makers.
Good Looks (Photo by Emilio Herce)

Austin, Texas rock band Good Looks had their finger on the pulse when writing their excellent debut record Bummer Year.

Like every band on Keeled Scales records, Good Looks are having a conversation with the listeners. The band seems like equal parts barnburning outlaw country, 90’s DIY punk, and early 00’s indie rock.

Lyrically, they get everything right. These songs pull you in right away with instant connections. Lost loves, bad jobs, old friends growing apart – something for everyone.

The beauty of these songs is that they ask questions you’re probably asking yourself right now. What are we going to do? It’s a lot easier to navigate to an answer when we’re on the same page, and Bummer Year is a record that wants us to all get there. Highly recommended.

They’re at Smoke & Barrel Tavern this Sunday, June 18 with Fayetteville’s own Meadow Makers. Doors open at 8 p.m. Bring your friends and make some new ones.

I talked to Tyler Jordan from the band, and here it goes:

How would you describe your band to a stranger?

Sometimes I tell folks that we’re in the same realm as The War on Drugs or Kurt Vile, but with rowdier guitar solos. But who knows, I think there are some tonal similarities, but I write songs so differently than either of those guys.

You were just in Little Rock opening for Bright Eyes – how did that feel? Was that your first time playing in Arkansas?

The Little Rock show was the first of the shows on our run with Bright Eyes, so we were all super excited to be there. The crowd was really great and attentive during our set, and meeting the Bright Eyes folks was a trip. We’ve played a couple of times at The White Water Tavern and really love playing Little Rock. We’ve also played at Maxine’s Taproom in Fayetteville once before with our friends in Meadow Makers. And I think we’ve been on KUAF in Fayetteville on Timothy Dennis’s show three times now. We’ve got a lot of Arkansas connections I guess. My acoustic guitar, and the main instrument I write on, was made in Fayetteville by this phenomenal luthier Bayard Blain. My partner went to school in Conway at Hendrix. Ha, we love Arkansas!

Bummer Year is a record that says what a lot of people have been thinking over the last few years – has it led to connections and discussions at your shows? How has it been touring a political record in a time when people might be more interested in escapism?

It’s been a really cool experience to get to play these songs in front of folks and see how they connect to them. I try not to get too heavy handed with my socialism. Ha. I think changing someone’s mind politically is about being kind and meeting them where they’re at, so I hope my songs can do that. I guess you don’t really get a view into the lives of people that aren’t coming to your shows, which is I assume is the folks that are more into escapism. And then you’ve also probably got the folks that don’t really pay that much attention to lyrics anyway. All that to say, I think that’s a really interesting question, and I have no idea!

A lot of reviews mention your outlaw country influences, but I sense an equal amount of 90’s punk in there. Are there any unexpected influences you’d like to share for the first time?

The only 90s punk I listen to is Fugazi, Sunny Day Real Estate, Drive Like Jehu, and Jawbreaker. Not sure how present those influences are in our music though. I listened to a ton of Nirvana growing up, and they definitely skirt the edges of punk rock. I’m sure our drummer Phil listened to a ton of 90s punk though. He was a semi-professional skateboarder in his late teens. Maybe that’s where you hear it?

What have you been reading and watching lately? Anything you can recommend?

I’ve read several great books lately! I read this true story about 15th and 16th century pirates called Born to be Hanged. It was a really entertaining read. I also just finished Confronting Capitalism by Vivek Chibber. He’s a little more of a social democrat than I am, but he has some interesting ideas. I’m currently reading The Origins of Capitalism by Ellen Meiksins Wood and really enjoying it. Oh and I read Dune too. That book ruled!

Do you have a favorite “bad” gas station snack combination that helps you on tour?

Jake is on a pretty heavy Dot’s Pretzels and Gardetto’s kick. I’ve been going for the cookie crumble M&Ms lately. Between Harrison and I, a lot of sugar-free Red Bulls are consumed.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I meditate and do vocal warm ups before every show. We’ve also been trying to do the thing as a band where we all put our hands together and do a chant, but we can’t ever come up with anything cool to say. Ha. We really need to work on it.

What are your plans for the rest of 2023?

We are gonna be gone the whole month of July on an east coast and midwest run, and then we’re doing a short west coast run of shows in August to L.A. and back. Probably more touring, but the plans are still firming up! We’re almost finished on our follow up to Bummer Year, mostly it needs to be mastered, but it definitely won’t come out till 2024 at this point.