Bird Dog is (L-R) David 'Bingo' Bingaman, Ryan Grametbaur, Rory Grametbaur, and Sean Quinn
It's been a long time since there was a solid homegrown band that hailed from New Braunfels. Bird Dog aims to challenge that notion. But, they won't actually be executing their plan of action in the two rivers city. At least not for now. This band, which was originally conceived as a brother guitar and drum duo, left for Nashville in September of 2013 to scratch their itch for something more.
There, they recruited a bassist and an additional guitarist. They recorded an album, and recently, came back to Texas to share it while playing tunes across the state. We caught up with Rory Grametbaur and the Bird Dog boys one afternoon while they were in town. This is what happened.
What age did you and your brother Ryan begin playing music?
I was 10 or so. Dad had a guitar around the house that he had started learning on some years earlier. Ryan messed around with it growing up, but he didn't start writing until after high school... I taught him alot once he got back home after his first semester at college and we decided to start Bird Dog.
Was this a natural gravitation or did you have to manufacture it a bit?
Coming together to make music basically came from other seasons of life ending. Ryan was about to start his freshman year at West Texas A&M in Canyon, having been up there going through workouts over the summer with the football team. But, as two-a-days were about to begin, he had some X-rays taken that brought to light a couple of stress fractures in one of his vertebrae. That ended his football career, and brought Ryan home after the first semester. I was living in San Marcos playing in a band with some friends, which was on its way to breaking up. Then I lost the job I had, and was evicted from the house I was living in. That put me back at Mom & Dad's, and me and Ryan back in our old room together. From there, I was showing Ryan all I knew in music and we started writing and ruining our lives together, which initially came quite naturally.
What was life like trying to start a band as young bucks in New Braunfels?
We were drinking a lot. We were lucky enough to be living on River Road together and started doing a Wednesday residency at River Road Ice House with some friends from around town... which gave us a platform to work on the live performance of the songs we had been writing and recording on our own during our first six months as a band.
How did you arrive at the band name Bird Dog?
One day, Ryan and I were out going from pawn shop to pawn shop looking for a drum set. I had randomly bought all the tape cassettes from a garage sale the previous weekend, and we were going through and listening to them as we were driving around. As we pulled up to Money Mart Pawn, or something... the song playing was The Everly Brothers' "Bird Dog." After we were parked, we waited in the car for the song to finish... we looked at each other and said, "That's it." We never found a drum set that day.
When you began playing publicly, did you feel like there was a place for you and your music, or were there more than the normal hurdles bands have when getting off the ground?
We started off doing open mics, writer's nights, and singing karaoke together. Once we got drums and more amps, people told us to turn down all the time. We worked mostly in the box of the two-piece set up, which limited our capabilities as we started... but we were just having a good time.
When was the first time that taking the project away from New Braunfels came to mind? Was there a specific trigger that set the conception off?
We were both seeking some adventure... and I had been stuck in New Braunfels for nearly five years due to probation. We just wanted to taste something else. So, we just set a date and did everything we could think of to make it happen.
When was the actual move?
September 19th, 2013, I believe. It was supposed to be the 18th, but we stayed a day longer to play another show with Daniel Thomas Phipps.
There are many scenes out there. What made you choose Nashville?
There are tons of scenes, and there was nothing specifically drawing us to Nashville... it was late when we drove into Nashville, and we were tired and already low on money. We honestly didn't think too much about it. All we knew was there was music there. We were thinking of going to Knoxville, but we just never made it.
There have been times where I've had a love/hate situation with my surroundings. What did New Braunfels mean to you when you left? What was the relationship you had with the town as a whole - the people, the scene... where you stood in it all?
As far as the scene, there was a place for us to do many things, but not much potential as we saw to do everything... and we're young and were growing bored of it. We love the town as a whole, but sometimes you just got to get away, for whatever reasons. For us, it was mostly just adventure. We greatly appreciated what New Braunfels had allowed us to do with music through the people... but every bird leaves the nest.
How does Nashville compare?
Nashville is full of a bunch of desperate people just like us trying to do the same thing. Less full of the loving and supportive kind from back home... those make it worth doing.
Most people from Texas probably have a stigma when it comes to Music Row. Describe Nashville from your perspective.
It's a musical red light district. There are tons of good, genuine people; as well as whores... it's mostly about the money, although it's been kind to us. (winks)
What's up with the van?
Ryan had a two door BMW in high school that we ended up selling to purchase the van. Her name is Daisy. We lived in her for three months when we arrived in Nashville.
Who was Bird Dog before they left New Braunfels, and who are they now?
We were just brothers as well as friends that wanted to make music and have a good time. We're the same now, but we realize that there is an opportunity to make some sort of a go at this.
What do you miss most about home?
The Maxey Pad: A place we rented out, where Craving's beautiful new parking lot is now.
What do you miss least?
NBPD and Score's Sports Bar.
What do you like most about Nashville?
What do you hate about Nashville?
What's your favorite thing about NB?
Daniel Thomas Phipps.
What lies ahead for Bird Dog?