Searching for the Blind Owls
By Alexis De Leon
When they were quite young, four boys banded together in the name of rock to discover they were actually pretty talented, and people actually kind of liked their sound. Legend has it, the band’s name was fated from the moment Alan “The Blind Owl” Wilson first came onto the music scene hypnotizing the masses with his smooth harmonica riffs. Others, however, will say it was not fate, but random chance the band would form and choose their name.
Corpus Christi has inspired generations throughout the decades to sing about her bay, her people, and her overall vibe. The Blind Owls are grateful to be a part of a city with such vibrant music history. Just how did they come up with their name you ask. Well it could have started while sitting by the ocean, or perhaps carried in by the winds, but ironically enough, as fate would have it, it happened a bit more arbitrarily than that. “There is a guitarist/singer in an older band called "Canned Heat” they would call Alan "The Blind Owl" Wilson. I thought The Blind Owls was a cool name,” Jesse recalls, “we wrote it on a paper, among many other names a few of us had, threw them all in a hat and drew each until the last one declared our name. One fell on the ground at some point. We picked it up at the end and we became ‘The Blind Owls.’”
Starting around the fifth and sixth grade the guys picked up instruments and began finding their individual rhythms. This youthful start is also where they all came together. “We all kind of met in grade school, except for me and my brother Carlos, who I've known my whole life,” Jesse jokes. “I met Josh sometime in the fourth or fifth grade. Then I met Dylan in our sixth grade band class, being in the percussion section together.”
For Carlos it all began the summer of the sixth grade. “I saw a group of friends perform Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" and knew I could do better. I was really inspired by my dad as well,” Carlos remembers. “I met Dylan through skateboarding and I Josh at our first practice.”
At first, the guys got together as just an informal jam band, but as time went on they began to find their beat. Some of the members even found their place by accident. “I have not been singing for very long,” Jesse explains. When the boys were merely a jam band, they were left without their lead singer at an open mic gig one night. Jesse, being the only one who knew all the lyrics to the songs, ended up having to take matters into his own hands. “I was basically forced to take on lead vocals, and have been doing it ever since,” he jokes. Dylan reminisces back to the fifth grade, which is when he got his first drum set. While he knew it was something he loved to do, he never imagined it would lead to all the amazing experiences the band has given him.
Being in a band, contrary to popular belief, isn’t all playing shows and touring. A lot of it requires discipline. Everyone crammed into a studio—or in today’s age maybe just a bedroom with a mic, a computer, and all the instruments one can afford—in order to record. Recording their first EP was no problem, but mixing and mastering, however, took almost two years. “We did it all at home and recorded it in the room that we have been practicing in since we became a band. The hard part was getting us all together to complete it. The LP (long playing) was easier to complete, as we booked four days of studio time with Dylan Ely here in Corpus Christi at his former studio, The Loop,” Jesse says. “We pretty much were there all day together from 9 AM to 6 AM all four days just working on music. It was definitely another time to remember and a great experience to be able to do nothing but work on music all day and night.”
“All Day and Night” happens to also be the name of the band’s album. With the EP pressed on vinyl, there was something much more substantial to receiving the finished product in the mail. Carlos remembers, “I was high on it but more so at the fact that we were releasing it on vinyl. When the packages finally arrived I felt like a kid on Christmas. Listening to it all together as a band for the first time is something I won't forget. It’s pretty cool our music is going to, hopefully, exceed us in terms of time and life.”
The band recently got back from a whirlwind three weeks of touring the West Coast. A GoFundMe was set up in order to raise money to get Dylan’s van in good enough shape to make it to Seattle and back. The four owls (and all of their equipment) loaded up into the van and began on their journey. “It only broke down once,” Josh jokes, “we got it fixed in a day so no interruptions on that end.” Traveling over 6,000 miles together was both an exciting and learning experience for the guys. They all can agree it is one they will never forget.
Now, that it’s all said and done, they are most thankful to be back in Corpus Christi where their family, friends, and fur babies reside. “It was an amazing experience,” Josh explains, “none of us had ever toured before so it was exciting getting to experience it with these guys I've known my whole life.”
Josh mentions the craziest thing to him, in regards to the tour, was how successful it actually turned out. Each of their shows on tour made more money than they had anticipated. “Not saying I didn’t believe in us,” Josh jokes, “ but a lot of these places we had never played before, so I didn’t expect them to be as packed as they were.” He reminisces on the positive reactions from each of the tour’s stops, and mentions that was probably the best part for him. “Playing to people who have never heard your music and seeing them dance and really digging it was just such an awesome feeling—nothing like it really.”
While each member will always remember the journey, they each came out of the experience with a little something special. “Words can’t really do justice to the journey we embarked on and the memories we created in those three weeks together,” Jesse mentions. “The best way to put it, in my opinion, is like a rollercoaster ride. You anticipate it so much until the tour actually begins, once you're on it there's a lot of things happening, ups and downs, good times, bad times, and sometimes it may feel like it’s never going to end and you may want to get off. Yet, once it’s over, it seems as if things flew by faster than you thought and you can’t wait to go back and do it all over again.”
Dylan took away that it is always important to be ready for whatever may be thrown at you. “We had a lot of bumps along the way, but those bumps made for some really great stories,” he says. Josh learned about the type of brotherhood that comes from confined spaces. “I learned about these guys. You think you know someone, but you truly don't until you're surrounded by them, and only them, for almost a month,” Josh explains, “I can't lie and say it was all nice and fun, but we really learned how to deal with one another and I think we all matured from that. I mean all we had on the road was each other so we just got a lot closer with one another which was great. I've always considered those guys brothers, but we reached a new level of brotherhood on tour.”
As for future plans, The Blind Owls are planning a few shows at Vino Mio Social Club in September and October, trying to rest up before their next EP release, tour, and trip to Boston. “We have already finished up our next EP so we are just keeping it in the vault until further notice,” Carlos mentions, “we have a million unreleased songs no one has heard, but we're still always writing. We don't have much shows lined up currently, we're trying to have some downtime between shows. In a few months time, we'll start booking for our next tour again.”
The band enjoys their time in Corpus Christi much like the rest of us mere mortals, surrounded by friends and family. For now we remain excited to see where their music takes them and the city we love.
For more information on where to find The Blind Owls next visit theblindowls.com