Local psychedelic band The Halfways brings experimentation to Austin rock scene

Matt Robertson

Nothing says “Welcome to Austin” like the sound of muffled rock music permeating through thin apartment walls. In a small room located beneath the front desk of a Riverside complex, local band The Halfways practice for their next show.

The band is preparing for their weekly residency at the Spider House Cafe where they play on Wednesday nights through the end of July.

Known for their diverse sound, the band's experimental brand of rock and roll carried over from its past. Before teaming up with the current The Halfways lead singer, Daniel Fernandez spent a couple of years developing the band’s sound as a solo project.

“Before the full band, I made an album by myself called Exit. It was just a bedroom production,” Fernandez said. “I used coffee cans, salt shakers and just whatever.”

He eventually began playing with The Halfways guitarist and childhood friend, Alejandro Facusse. The band now plays as a five-piece that includes drummer Sean Lochridge, bassist Justin, and pianist Adam Lozoya who joined just a month ago after Fernandez saw him play the piano on South Congress.

“A year ago, I built this piano and I was playing outside Lucy in Disguise, and [Fernandez] and his girlfriend came up and he said that I should come play with his band,” Lozoya said. “We’ve been practicing for about a month — it all started on Congress.”

Lochridge, who joined in May, recently helped the band record their soon to be debut EP with only a week’s worth of practice.

“My band broke up and their drummer had just quit on them so [Fernandez] messaged me asking me to come record,” Lochridge said. “I replied and said why don’t I just join your band?”

The Halfways take a similarly relaxed approach to making music as they do adding new members. The band said that independently jamming between songs during their rehearsal can lead to group collaborations which eventually become full-fledged songs.

“It kind of just happens sometimes. It’s a happy accident,” Justin said.

Fernandez is responsible for writing most of The Halfways music and references science fiction, such as Star Wars, for some of his songs. He finds the storytelling aspect of songwriting to be a key focus of his process.

“Even music I’ve heard fleetingly I like to incorporate,” Fernandez said. “A lot of the songs we try to make a little cinematic. Every section of the song represents a different scene like the page in a storybook would.”

Like Fernandez, the band’s other members find inspiration in many avenues, rattling off a list of musical influences from White Denim to The Who. Fernandez describes their sound as “imageful psychedelia,” playing music that ranges from pop to psych rock.

“There’s tons of blues bands that play the blues better than us or metal bands that play metal better than us, but none of them can play everything we do,” Facusse said.

The band members said they find their niche in incorporating a range of influences rather than attempt to adhere to a specific genre. They joke about a future of performing as long-haired European disc-jockeys, but said with their diverse styles, it’s not entirely out of the question.

“Who knows what we’ll do next; there are so many genres,” Fernandez said. “Our music is all over the place, and that’s how we like it.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained a misspelling. It has since been updated.